“The Old Independence Branch of the Chicago Public Library” by S.M. O’Connor

The Independence Branch of the Chicago Public Library was a storefront branch library at 3548 West Irving Park Road (between Central Park Avenue to the west and Drake Avenue to the east) that formerly served residents of Irving Park (Community Area #16) on the North Side of Chicago.  [Irving Park has eight neighborhoods: Old Irving Park, The Villa, Independence Park, West Walker, California Park, Kilbourn Park, Merchant Park, and Little Cassubia.]  This iteration opened on Saturday, July 15, 1995.  However, it is closed because the commercial block of which it is a part was damaged by fire on Friday, October 30, 2015.  The Chicago Public Library is building a new Independence Branch Library at 4022 North Elston Avenue in partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority (C.H.A.), and it should open by the end of 2018.  In the meantime, Irving Park residents are supposed to visit the Albany Park Branch Library, the Mayfair Branch Library, and the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library.

The way several suburban public libraries were founded by women’s clubs, the Irving Park Woman’s Club created a literary society in 1888 that laid the foundation (socially) for the Independence Branch Library.  In 1901, that literary society began to have members donate books and magazines for the establishment of a circulating library.

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