“Welcome Center Opens, Bookstore Reopens at The Newberry Library” by S.M. O’Connor

The Newberry Library opened a new Welcome Center and re-opened the bookstore under a new name on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, which marked the final phase of first-floor renovations.  Other spaces will open or re-open in the days to come, culminating with the opening of an exhibit on Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893) on Friday, September 28, 2018. The Newberry Library is an independent research library with non-circulating collections focused on the humanities.

A new visitor should visit the Herget Welcome Center, where employees and volunteers will introduce one to The Newberry Library, sign one up to a reader’s card, and give one a quick orientation before one enters the exhibit galleries, event spaces, or reading rooms.  The Rosenberg Bookshop opened up with double the floor space of the old bookshop.  Renamed in honor of two generous donors, it continues to sell an eclectic mixture of gifts, cards, and toys produced by local artisans; exhibit catalogs, scholarly books, novels, children’s books, notecards, postcards, and buttons.  Proffered items range from merchandise with the Newberry logo to deaccessioned items from Newberry holdings.  There is a Button-O-Mattic on site that dispenses buttons featuring images from the Newberry collections.

The Newberry Library has had a bookshop in its lobby for decades.  From 1995 to 2013, the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Hyde Park managed the A.C. McClurg Bookstore in the lobby of The Newberry Library. [General Alexander C. McClurg was a book and magazine publisher, wholesale distributor of books and stationary, and retailer.  The retail operation was the oldest bookshop in the city, founded in 1844.  He joined the firm in 1859, left to fight in the Civil War, and returned to become a partner with former employer S.C. Griggs.  The publishing firm Griggs, Bross and Company evolved into S.C. Griggs and Company, and still later divided into two firms, one of which became the bookstore Jansen, McClurg, and Company.[1] His business, A.C. McClurg & Company, burnt down in 1899, but he re-organized it, selling stock to employees, before he died in 1901.   A.C. McClurg & Company published eleven Tarzan novels, starting with Tarzan of the Apes in 1914.  To focus on being a book wholesaler, A. C. McClurg sold its bookstore located at 218 South Wabash Street to Brentano’s.  Finally, the company was liquidated in 1962.  The Newberry Library owns the A.C. McClurg & Co. Records, 1873-1962.]  On November 1, 2013, The Newberry Library assumed direct responsibility for the lobby bookshop and later changed its name to the Newberry Bookstore.  This left the Seminary Co-op with two bookshops in Hyde Park.[2]

The Newberry Library’s Reading Rooms, Exhibit Galleries, and Bookstore are closed on Sundays.  The Reading Rooms and Bookstore are closed on Mondays.  The Rosenberg Bookshop is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays, and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturdays.  Note that it is closed for lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Hanson Gallery, the future home of the permanent exhibit From the Stacks, will open on Thursday, September 13, 2018.  The exhibit will feature a rotating selection of books, maps, manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts from the collections of The Newberry Library.  The group of items on display will change every three months.  The centerpiece of the exhibit is an eight-foot-high, forty-six-foot-long climate-controlled display case that will run the length of Hanson Gallery.

The Trienens Galleries will open next door to the Hanson Gallery on September 28th to house temporary thematic exhibits and exhibitions, starting with Pictures from an Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World’s Fair.  The exhibit will include ancillary programs, including Dr. Rebecca S. Graff giving a presentation on her archeological and archival research on the White City and Midway Plaisance, “The Vanishing City,” at The Newberry Library on Thursday, October 4, 2018 and Dr. Lisa Snyder from U.C.L.A. delivering a lecture and presentation in The Newberry Library’s Ruggles Hall, “Behind the Model: Reconstructing the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition”  on Saturday, December 8, 2018.

The landscaping, façade, and vestibule are also undergoing or have underwent renovations to increase visibility and accessibility.  A new “universal accessible” (handicap-accessible) entrance will open soon to the east of the front doors.

The Newberry Library occupies the block bounded by Oak Street to the north, Dearborn Street to the east, Walton Street to the south, and Clark Street to the west.  The main entrance is on Walton Street.  The Newberry Library faces Washington Square Park, also known as Bughouse Square. It is west of the north end of the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue, and northwest of the Cathedral District and Loyola University Chicago’s Eater Tower Campus.

The address is 60 West Walton Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610.  The Website is https://www.newberry.org.  The phone number is (312) 943-9090.


[1] Gwladys Spencer, The Chicago Public Library: Origins and Backgrounds. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (1943), p. 31

[2] In 2011, the Seminary Co-operative Bookstore, Inc. celebrated the 50th anniversary of its incorporation.  In October of 2012, its flagship store moved one block east to a larger, above-ground location at 5751 South Woodlawn Avenue on The University of Chicago campus.  This is The Seminary Co-Op, also known as the Woodlawn Avenue Store.  57th Street Books, at 57th Street and Kimbark, celebrated the 30th anniversary of its opening on Tuesday, October 22, 2013.  The address is 1301 East 57th Street.

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