Bucktown-Wicker Park Branch
1701 N. Milwaukee Avenue
So I recently went to Chicago for the American Library Association annual conference, and the conference in general was really fun! I helped run the Zine Pavilion, got to interview some comic creators, ran a library themed session of Call of Cthulhu, and did other fun stuff.
While I was in Chicago I also went and checked out some of their public libraries. They made me sad. I've heard from a couple of people that the current mayor of Chicago doesn't care about libraries, and is of the opinion that as long as the lights are on and there's someone to check out books then that's all they need. Geeze.
The fact that the library system is really understaffed was obvious at every branch I went to, and things I heard from people that work there made me even sadder. One thing that really bothered me was how poorly kept the shelves were. They need to hire some shelvers ASAP. Below are some photos from the Bucktown-Wicker Park branch, but it was no better or worse than any other in terms of messiness of the shelves.
Books are just piled on top of other books, while rows fall over.
Those are just pages that have fallen out of a comic and are just lying there.
Books are spine in on shelves, or in the completely wrong section.
Meanwhile (and I didn't get a photo of this) there are masses of carts filled with books waiting to be put back on the shelves. Someone told me that all of the returns and hold requests are done through the central branch, so that books are sent there, and then sent back to other branches. But that they have so few people working that there is a six week backlog. ie. if you request a book today that is on the shelves, it will take them at least six weeks to send it to the branch you want to pick it up from, and then maybe another week or two in travel time. So inefficient I can't even joke about it.