ALA Annual Visit: Nature and Outdoor Fun

Chicago is a beautiful place in the summertime. After a long, cold (although in this year’s case not so snowy) winter the city comes alive. The cultural, cuisine, and sports attractions are all wonderful ways to pass a summer day, but it would be a shame to visit this city without also taking advantage of what nature has to offer.

Of course, the largest natural feature of the Chicagoland area is the Lake Michigan shoreline. On a warm day hitting the beach is a great option. North Avenue Beach, right on Lake Shore Drive, is a popular destination. With amenities like jetski, bike, and kayak rentals, volleyball courts, lockers, as well as concessions, there is something for everyone. The beach’s most iconic feature is the beach house, a blue and white building, built to look like an ocean liner.

North Avenue Beach

Also on Lake Shore Drive, but a little closer to downtown is Oak Street Beach. With great views of the city skyline and all the amenities of concession and rental, it does tend to be a little more crowded on hot days and there is only street parking. Farther south is Montrose Beach, another wonderful place to while away a summer day. A unique feature of this beach is a bird sanctuary. Over 300 species have been sighted there with early morning being the best time for bird watching. But, anytime of day the meadow and dunes is a peaceful contrast to the manicured park and busy city that surrounds.

For those who wish for a less sandy outdoor experience the Lincoln Park Conservatory is not to be missed. There are multiple display rooms within a Victorian style glass conservatory as well as beautiful surrounding gardens. Part of this large complex, that is attached to the Lincoln Park Zoo, is a hidden lily pond. Called the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, there is a stone walkway with prairie-style architectural structures, a pavilion, council ring, lots of shady trees, it’s a sanctuary in the midst of a bustling city.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Chicago River is a natural feature nestled right in the middle of a cityscape that also offers opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Take a boat architecture tour led by Chicago Architecture Foundation docents. For those who desire more adventure, book a tour (the Ghosts and Gangsters of Hustlertown is one example) with Wateriders, or simply rent a kayak and paddle at your own pace.

However you choose to spend your time in Chicago, remember that even in the midst of the crowd and concrete of the city there are still opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and find some refuge in the more natural world.

Bridget Farrell is a middle school librarian in a northern suburb of Chicago.

ALA Annual Visit: Chinatown Chicago

Tomorrow is the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year! It’s the Year of the Rooster and, to celebrate, as well as to get us thinking about Annual in Chicago, I thought it would be fun to make conference attendees aware of Chicago Chinatown. As I accidentally discovered this neighborhood myself last time Annual was held in Chicago, I know from experience it’s an easy walk from where the conference is held. And, look, I even went ahead and Googled it for you! It’s just over a mile away (okay, okay, 1.2-1.5 depending on who you ask). 

Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil monkey statues

Besides the obvious – there is a TON of good food in Chinatown, there are also a surprising amount of cool shops to find any number of trinkets you are looking for. For example, I still have (and proudly display) the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkey sculpture I bought last time I was there.

You should definitely stop by the Chiu Quon Bakery for a Bao filled with custard. Or any of the other baked buns they have available. They all looked fantastic. Incidentally it appears I’m not alone in this opinion, as Chiu Quon is listed among the best restaurants in Chinatown according to Thrillist. Check out their article here: https://www.thrillist.com/eat/chicago/chinatown/best-restaurants-chinese-food-chicago-chinatown.

I like Chinatown as a recommended visit for Annual because it’s a nice, easy walk and can be as short or long a visit as you like. I went through as much of it as I wanted to in about two hours, including the walk. Of course, there’s also efficient and affordable public transportation should the weather not be kind, or should you already be exhausted from other conference efforts. You can certainly get some good food and cool, unique souvenirs to take back home. 

So, when you need a break from convention craziness, head to Chinatown!

Be sure to check out chicagochinatown.org for all of the latest information and events that might be planned while you’re in town!

2017 year of the rooster

Joel Shoemaker was on the 2017 Stonewall Book Awards Committee for Youth and serves on the 2018 Stonewall Book Awards Committee for Adults. He is the Library Director for Oakwood Public Library District (Ill.) and has been a magician for more than twenty-five years.

A Sampling of Chicago YA Authors

by Heather Love Beverley

Looking to get revved up for ALA Annual in Chicago? How about spending some time immersed in some deliciously good YA novels, all by extremely talented Chicago authors? Here’s a sampling of some of the literary YA wonders of the Chicago-land area:

Lisa Jenn Bigelow: First-time YA author Bigelow’s novel Starting From Here is captivating readers with its poignant, charming and compelling coming-of-age storyline, and has been named a 2013 Rainbow List Top Ten book.

Franny Billingsley: Billengsley has written a masterpiece of rich imagery and sensual language with her beguiling historical novel, Chime.

Fern Schumer Chapman: Chapman’s novel Is It Night or Day? is a heartwrenchingly beautiful account of a young Jewish girl’s journey from WWII Germany to America. This novel is a fictionalized account of Chapman’s mother’s own journey, which is also chronicled in her memoir Motherland.

Simone Elkeles: Elkeles’s novels range from intense and steamy- the Perfect Chemistry series, Leaving Paradise series, and her newest Wild Cards series- to comical and sweet- the How to Ruin series. All are delightful and engaging. Continue reading

YALSA YouMedia Tour Planned for Annual 2013

by Portia Latalladi

Near the State Street entrance of the Harold Washington Library Center, you’ll find a special space where high school teens can express themselves in unique ways, utilizing the latest technology and gadgets. This successful hub of inspiration and innovation has garnered national attention and serves as a model to the wave of teen tech spaces that have begun to emerge everywhere. This space is the Chicago Public Library’s groundbreaking’ YouMedia’ center, and a visit there should be an item on everyone’s 2013 ALA Annual “bucket list.”

The dedicated staff and mentors of’ YouMedia lead teens in a range of workshops, from digital music production and digital video production to graphic design and podcasting, to’ give them the skills and resources to produce fabulous works of self-expression and creativity.

On Sunday, June 30th from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., a member of YouMedia’s staff will conduct an overview and tour of the space; registration will be limited to the first twenty-five people who register.

 

 

 

Live Music in Chicago

by Colleen Seisser

Chicago is famous for it’s rich history of Blues music. ‘ However, like many urban areas today, there is some fantastic music being made in Chicago. ‘ On the right night, walking into any local bar or restaurant can be a treat for your ears. ‘ I got in touch with a local Chicago musician, Tim Seisser, and asked him for some recommendations for great venues for live music in Chicago. ‘ Tim has been playing bass all over the Chicagoland area for about ten years, so he knows a thing or two about the Chicago music scene. Here are some of his picks and why:

1. Reggie’s Music Joint

Reggie’s is located in the South Loop and has two venues (Reggie’s Rock Club: the bigger stage and Reggie’s Music joint: the restaurant/bar with live music), while also housing Record Breakers, a huge record store onsite. ‘ Parking is ample around Reggies, and it is easy access via public transportation. ‘ You never know what you are going to hear at Reggie’s–Rock, Punk, Rockabilly, Blues, Jazz–it is an establishment that is made for a music fan.

Tim says: Reggies is a great south loop location with amazing food, consistent good music, and a large variety of good beer on tap. ‘ Cover is usually pretty cheap.
Continue reading

Sights, Sounds, Smells of Chicago

I have been remiss about blogging from ALA due to spending most of the day yesterday either in an unairconditioned cab or a meeting room. However, business is being done. Yesterday, the USBBY Board (www.usbby.org) met to conduct business. If you have time today, plan to attend the USBBY sponsored session from 3:30-5:30 (co sponsor is YALSA) with the author of HEARTSINGER and her translator and editor.

Today began with a Neil Gaiman spotting. I think that bodes well for the day.

Most of the talk this morning was about the Board meeting Monday when the topic of BBYA will come to the floor for discussion. YALSA members should plan to come and listen and provide feedback.

The ABCs of Library Literacy: K-12 School Library Visit at Annual

If you are going to be around on Monday afternoon, June 13, the ALA Committee on Literacy is sponsoring an off-site visit to the real and working school library at the Claremont Academy on Chicago’s Southside from 2:30 to 4:30 PM. This is a fabulous opportunity for YALSA members and other youth serving librarians to see what’s happening in Chicago.

Through a federal Improving Literacy through School Libraries grant, Claremont Academy and 11 other Chicago Public Schools are taking an A-B-Cs approach to addressing primary students’ literacy needs. During the visit, participants will:

  • Learn more about the federal grant program from the U.S. Department of Education and Chicago Public School representatives.
  • Learn more about Claremont and the community from school administrators, library media specialists, parents, and students.
  • Observe Claremont’s library activities.
  • Talk with school media specialists and literacy teachers about changes, challenges, and progress.
  • Share your experiences with everyone!

Claremont Academy is located at 2300 West 64th Street, Chicago, IL 60636. Transportation is available from McCormick Place departing at 1:30 pm and returning at 5:30 pm. Space is limited and MUST be reserved in advance.’  Please contact Dale Lipschultz, OLOS Literacy Officer dlipschultz At ala DOT org with questions or to reserve space.

Event Flyer for ABCs of Library Literacy