About Us

“The public library is where place and possibility meet.”
— Chicago native and author Stuart Dybek

Since first opening our doors in 1873, we've served all Chicagoans with free and open places to gather, learn, connect, read and be transformed.

  • Our 81 locations provide the innovative library services, technologies and tools Chicagoans need to reach their goals and to establish our city as a competitive force in the global marketplace.
  • Our libraries are that special third place—beyond home and work—where people come to improve their lives, nourish their intellect or savor entertainment.
  • Our rich collections, state-of-the-art technology, and cultural and public partnerships make us a thriving, engaged leader in Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.

Although Chicago Public Library has changed dramatically since our beginnings in an abandoned water tower after the Great Chicago Fire, our mission has remained constant:

We welcome and support all people in their enjoyment of reading and pursuit of lifelong learning. Working together, we strive to provide equal access to information, ideas and knowledge through books, programs and other resources. We believe in the freedom to read, to learn, to discover.

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