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Chicago Public Library's 'Library Lounge' Nights Aim To Make Libraries Cool Again

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If the last time you saw your library card was senior year of high school, then there’s a good chance it’s still tucked away in your "East of Eden" paperback. Since it's likely expired, scoring a new library card may be on your to-do list, and the folks at the Chicago Public Library are now making it fun and easy for you to get one. With the launch of the monthly Library Lounge nights -- part of the library's recent “Not What You Think” campaign -- CPL wants to reintroduce the library to city residents -- especially young, professional urbanites -- in a place they are likely to already frequent: local bars.

At each happy hour you can expect to learn about all the offerings at CPL, beyond just books, ebooks and audiobooks. (Bet you didn’t know there was online access, passes to Chicago’s museums and free Wi-Fi.) You’ll also get yourself a library card on the spot (bring your driver’s license and a piece of mail if the address on your license isn’t current), a Chicago Public Library shirt (if you are one of the first 100 RSVPs) and a couple of drinks to sip while you mingle with other 20- and 30-somethings.

In addition to having the opportunity to sign up for a library card, Chicago residents can also learn about the valuable resources available to them at CPL. Hint: it’s much more than the microfilm we all sifted through for term papers in the ‘90s.

“We get to show off the fact that we have popular music; you know, our music is not all classical, our movies aren’t all black and white from 1945,” Ruth Lednicer, Chicago Public Library’s Director of Marketing, said. In addition, CPL offers classes on a slew of topics, ranging from writing a winning resume to tax workshops, and as Lednicer puts it, “Things that people are looking for in their everyday lives.”

Word is getting around, with the number of RSVPs growing for each new event. The last event, held at The Whistler, was in such a high demand that CPL had to close the list early.

“We had people lined up outside in 95 degree weather to get in, and one woman by the time she made it to the table where I was doing library cards, I asked, ‘How long had you waited?’ And she said, ‘About an hour. I wanted my library card.’ She came with an ID and she even had a piece of mail in case I needed to see that,” Lednicer said.

“I think the interest has been spurred by the fact that we’ve been able to tell people that we are approachable, and that we are kind of not what people originally thought; we are very relevant, we are hip."

The next Library Lounge event will be held at The Rail Bar & Grill at 4709 N. Damen Ave. on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Must be 21+ to attend.