“The Austin-Irving Branch of the Chicago Public Library” by S.M. O’Connor

The Austin-Irving Branch of the Chicago Public Library is located on Irving Park Road, between North Meade and North Moody Avenues in the Dunning (Community Area #17) on the North Side of Chicago.  It is one block east of Saint Pascal Catholic Church a few blocks east of the Chicago Park District’s Merrimac Park at 6343 West Irving Park Road and Mount Olive Cemetery & Mausoleum at 3800 North Narragansett Avenue.  Also, it is two blocks west of the Patio Theater movie house.

This 15,500-square-foot, two-story branch library is a $6,500,000 purpose-built library building that opened on Saturday, December 8, 2001.  It is the second iteration of the Austin-Irving Branch Library.  The first iteration was a smaller facility, a 1,254-square-foot storefront library located at 6110 West Irving Park Road. In April of 1970, the Austin-Irving Branch Library became the sixty-fifth branch of the Chicago Public Library (C.P.L.). Previously, the C.P.L. serviced the area with a mobile unit.

It was the forty-first library newly built or renovated since Richard M. Daley (Daley the Younger), Mayor of Chicago (1989-2011) was elected in 1989.  “Chicago is the nation’s leader when it comes to building and renovating libraries,” Mayor Daley stated at the dedication ceremony.  “This new branch library will be a wonderful addition to the community, a place where people of all ages can gather knowledge in all its forms – from books, magazines, and videotapes or by using a computer and surfing the Internet.”

“Parents have to remember that they share the responsibility of educating their children,” Mr. Daley stated.  “They have to make their children have library cards, and then pull them away from the television set and bring them to this wonderful new library.”

“With 78 locations across the City, the Chicago Public Library is one of the best free resources Chicagoans have to access information of all types,” stated Mary Dempsey, Chicago Public Library Commissioner (1994-2012).  “Many people worked hard to ensure the Austin-Irving Branch would open today and it is a rich resource that will serve this neighborhood for generations.”

The Public Building Commission of Chicago oversaw the design and construction of this branch library for the C.P.L.  The Architect of Record was Antunovich & Associates.  The general contractor was The Lombard Company.

When the building opened, it had approximately 50,000 books for juveniles, young adults, and adults; books-on-tape; and newspapers and other periodicals.  The whole building is accessible in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990).

The Austin-Irving Branch Library has two featured collections: Polish Language Materials and Spanish Language Materials.  It features artworks acquired with funding through the Percent for Art Ordinance administered by the City of Chicago Public Art Program: tile murals by Jason Messinger and paintings by Gail Simpson Wolf.

The Large Meeting Room can accommodate 100 people, and has twelve tables, 100 chairs, a lectern, a screen, and a sink.  By contrast, the Small Meeting Room can accommodate twelve people.  Groups that book these meetings rooms are responsible for setup and takedown.  One can apply to book the room up to three months before the event, but not less than seven days before the event.  The branch manager must approve the event.  An applicant will be notified whether or not his or her application has been approved within three days.

The Austin-Irving Branch Library is closed on Sundays.  It is open from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The address is 6100 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, Illinois 60634.  The phone number there is (312) 744-6222.

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