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Chicago Public Library Named Nation's Best Urban Public Library System In New Study

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A new study from a German university has ranked the world's top urban public library systems, rendering some surprising results.

Coming out on top among U.S. library systems in the study from the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf's information science department was the Chicago Public Library system, which also ranked third in the world.

The next best U.S. public library systems in the ranking were San Francisco, which ranked fourth, and New York City, which ranked ninth. Ranking first and second internationally and outpacing Chicago were Vancouver and Montreal respectively.

The library systems in the 31 cities the study qualified as "informational world cities" were ranked based on a range of factors including their digital resources, their kid-friendliness and physical factors including the attractiveness and architectural significance of their spaces.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel lauded Chicago's ranking as "underscor[ing]the fact that Chicago is recognized internationally as a world-class City" in a statement.

Last year, the Chicago library received acclaim for its new "maker lab" at the Harold Washington Library downtown, which provided the city's first free, public access to technology including 3-D printers, laser cutters and a milling machine.

Rounding out the top 10 libraries worldwide were Shanghai (fifth), Toronto (sixth), Singapore (seventh), Vienna (eighth) and Shenzhen (tenth). Ranking last was the public library system in Dubai.

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