Week 0, Day 6
Serendipity, as it turns out, can sweep you up in its wings more easily when you are traveling alone than when you have agreed upon plans with another. I had planned to see the Museum of Science and Industry today, but it was SUCH a nice day, that I headed in the other direction (literally) and am glad I did.
The museum is to the south of the city, my plan was to head north, into the city. I took the Orange Line, which is the train I take to work daily. Rather than the usual destination, “The Loop”, the schedule board said “Downtown, Kimball”. Since I was headed downtown to get a bike to use while I’m here, I hopped on.
I haven’t been riding the El long enough to remember the order of the stops, so I wasn’t sure where I was going, other than downtown. I soon found out. We got to the first stop in the loop, which is “Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren”, always stated clearly by the recorded voice. As the train squealed to a halt, a new, less distinct voice came over the speaker, “This train is now a Brown Line train to Kimball” and repeated it twice, just to make sure we all got it. Pedagogy has something to learn from the CTA. Knowing I wasn’t headed to Kimball, I evacuated myself from the train and down to the street.
Several times, as I passed this stop, I’ve noticed a building with the most unusual acroteria I’ve ever seen. Take a look at the photo and see if you don’t agree – those are OWLS! )
I decided that this must be the Harold Washington Library, so I found an entrance and went in. [Shameless plug here: I think I’m going to make the Harold Washington Library an honorary addition to my other (currently on hiatus) blog librariesofnewengland.com. Really, I only have one entry and the “About” page done – this is a long term project.] Curiously, it was built starting in 1991!
I wandered a bit, and soon found the “What’s happening at your library sign”. There was an open Makerspace on the calendar, so I headed up to the third floor to see. In the “CPL Innovation Lab” as they call it, there were several 3D printers hard at work, and a gaggle of laptops ready to program them. They offer design courses, 3D printing and a bunch of other equipment.
Before long, I met AJ and his fiancee, Bethany, who were in from Cleveland. AJ told me about a cool product the company he works for makes called Gravi-tech, which is a plastic that can have the density and many of the properties of lead (imagine hunters using a lead shot substitute that is not hazardous to the environment – it has many other uses, too). Bethany was the librarian at a small high school, that was about to put in a Makerspace.
Harold Washington Library, as you can see, is quite welcoming – this sign appears on all nine floors of the library. While I was there I saw several decorating ideas for Katie to consider in the new EHHS library. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll save myself some typing: 3D signs, a puzzle space, an atrium, and cannons.
I haven’t mentioned it, but Accenture gave us a lot of swag. Someday, I’ll take a picture of it to show you, but for now you’ll have to live with a picture I took with my new selfie-stick.
I must say, serendipity took over again in this part of my exploration. I was on the eighth floor of the library, which is where the escalators stopped going up. I was ready to explore some of the lower floors I hadn’t seen yet, so I entered the elevator to go down. The G button wouldn’t stay lit. The gentleman who got on with me suggested that since the elevator was headed up, that the doors would close and open again, and then the button would work when the elevator was in down mode. The doors closed, and the elevator went up! I had no idea there was an up! The ninth floor is where I found the atrium and special collections, so I learned how to make beer and who Harold Washington was ( a former mayor).
Back down on the ground floor, I found a large, well-lit room called the “Popular Library”. Having no idea what that meant, I entered to find all kinds of CDs, DVDs, romance novels, new books, “On hold” books to be picked up, and a bunch of other stuff. I wasn’t sure what united these disparate items, so (naturally) I asked a librarian. The Popular Library is where they keep parts of their collection so people can just stop in from the street and get something quickly, rather than searching in the upper floors for it.
I left the library and walked out toward Navy Pier. Along the way I met a new friend, Ellie. She has been in Chicago for about a year, and has done a lot of sightseeing in the city. We hit it off immediately and spent the afternoon together exploring along the lake shore and the south side of the city. Before I left her, around dinnertime, I promised that we would explore other parts of the city, too. I took a picture of her near Buckingham Fountain, which has turned out to be one of my favorite sights in the city.
Apparently, as the owner of the bike shop I bought her at told me, it’s bad luck to ride a bike with no name. I’d have named her anyway.