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updated: 1/28/2011 12:08 PM

Local libraries make learning fun

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  • Harold Washington Library.

      Harold Washington Library.

  • Harold Washington Library

      Harold Washington Library

  • Harold Washington Library bookshelves.

      Harold Washington Library bookshelves.

  • Winter garden at the Harold Washington Library.

      Winter garden at the Harold Washington Library.

  • @SP Caption:Mount Prospect Public Library puppet stage and puppets.

      @SP Caption:Mount Prospect Public Library puppet stage and puppets.

  • @SP Caption:Mount Prospect Library has computers for kids to use right next to a station that their parents can use, with kid-friendly seating and accessories nearby.

      @SP Caption:Mount Prospect Library has computers for kids to use right next to a station that their parents can use, with kid-friendly seating and accessories nearby.

  • @SP Caption:Clifford, the big red dog, checks out the fish tank at the Mount Prospect Public Library.

      @SP Caption:Clifford, the big red dog, checks out the fish tank at the Mount Prospect Public Library.

  • @SP Caption:The first piece in the drama center at the Mount Prospect Public Library. More will come later.

      @SP Caption:The first piece in the drama center at the Mount Prospect Public Library. More will come later.

  • @SP Caption:A space exhibit at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin brought Galileo's studio, which allowed children to peer through telescopes.

      @SP Caption:A space exhibit at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin brought Galileo's studio, which allowed children to peer through telescopes.

  • @SP Caption:Life-sized dinosaur skeletons -- inlcuding Jobaria, a 33-foot-tall sauropod -- visited Gail Borden Public Library in 2005.

      @SP Caption:Life-sized dinosaur skeletons -- inlcuding Jobaria, a 33-foot-tall sauropod -- visited Gail Borden Public Library in 2005.

  • @SP Caption:The Gail Borden Public Library play area provides a structure for children to use their imagination.

      @SP Caption:The Gail Borden Public Library play area provides a structure for children to use their imagination.

  • @SP Caption:Gail Borden Public Library computers are stocked with age-appropriate software.

      @SP Caption:Gail Borden Public Library computers are stocked with age-appropriate software.

 
By Samantha Nelson

@SP Body Copy:While local libraries offers plenty of great resources and programming, it can be worth making a bit of a trip to see what other districts have to offer. These three libraries are among those that are worth the trip.

Gail Borden Public Library 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin, (847) 742-2411; gailborden.info

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Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 1-5:30 p.m. Sunday

About a million visitors come to the Gail Borden Public Library annually. The Elgin library was one of five libraries nationwide to receive the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for libraries. The two-story building opened in 2003 and offers views of the Fox River. High school students have their own space, with a new teen center that opened in January and includes a gaming station, performance stage, craft tables and a mix of PCs and Macs. An interactive play area for kids features a climbing structure with a slide, a freshwater aquarium and plenty of puppets, games and computers with age-appropriate software.

"The concept is that reading doesn't happen in a silent vacuum," said Denise Raleigh, director of communications. "Parents can be reading and watching their children play and it encourages kids to think of books as part of their everyday activities."

Harold Washington Library Center 400 S. State St., Chicago, (312) 747-4300; chipublib.org

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

The 756,640-square-foot Harold Washington Library Center is the world's largest public library building.

"It's been the main public library here in the South Loop for the last 20 years," said spokesman Leland Elder. "It's a state of the art building with state of the art technology."

The Thomas Hughes Children's Library has more than 18,000 square feet and contains 120,000 volumes, Chicago's largest collection of children's books. The space includes a computer center, a puppet stage and a dollhouse packed with 70 clues that reference nursery rhymes, children's stories and poems. A wide selection of children's videos is available in The Popular Library. The library also houses regularly changing public art exhibits.

Mount Prospect Public Library

10 S. Emerson St., Mount Prospect, (847) 253-5675; mppl.org

Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

One of the Mount Prospect Public Library's biggest strengths is its public art collection. The pieces include a mobile made from 44 kites that move based on the library's ambient temperature, several 2- to 3-foot pieces of Japanese pottery, stained glass and a mural that was painted on-site.

"We have 12 pieces that have been specifically designed for spaces in the library and they appeal to different senses," said Carolynn Muci, marketing and public relations director.

A second story was added to the library in 2004, and the entire first floor is now a children's area so parents don't have to worry about their kids disturbing adult patrons. The space includes a puppet theater, kid-sized shelves stocked with picture books and a collection of puppets, toys, puzzles and games that can be checked out by anyone with an Illinois library card. A dramatic play area is expected to open this spring and will include a house made from recycled books and a model kitchen where kids can practice reading labels and recipes as they pretend to make meals. The family place also includes kid-friendly computers side by side with computers parents can use. The computer area shares space with resources on toilet training, bullying, craft projects and more.

"I think it's one of the best collections in the Northwest suburbs of parent/teacher materials," Muci said. "We have a lot of preschool teachers come in to work on their curriculum."

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