Back to School: Which Chicago Neighborhoods Have the Best Libraries?

If you’re wondering where to make the most of Chicago’s back-to-school services, then explore some of the best library branches with this handy guide and you’ll be ready to hit the books and make the grade when exams roll around. 

Homework Help is available in Chicago Public Library (CPL) branches citywide with the Teacher in the Library program, making it the most comprehensive program of its kind in the country, according to the CPL. Trained homework helpers and certified teachers are at the ready for this free, drop-in program. The aim is to help kids focus on their studies and assist with a wide variety of subjects from elementary school to college prep. There are bilingual helpers at certain branches, but online help in English and Spanish is always available from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. via Brainfuse – students can access Brainfuse on a CPL computer or log in on a home computer using a CPL card.

Teacher in Library photo courtesy of Jordan Balderas

Photo c/o Chicago Public Library, Jordan Balderas

Not in school? These libraries still offer plenty of resources for Chicago residents of all ages, no matter if they’re currently enrolled or just looking for great ways to expand their knowledge.

Albany Park Branch - 3401 W Foster Ave
Highlights at this recently built branch of the Chicago Public Library include meeting rooms, study rooms and homework help. This branch is close to public transportation so there’s almost no excuse for you not to go and check out everything in their collection if you live in the Albany Park or North Park neighborhoods. Find apartments for rent in Albany Park

Mayfair Branch - 4400 W Lawrence Ave
This branch serves Chicago’s northwest neighborhoods of Jefferson Park, Independence Park and Mayfair. Computers and scanners are available so you can make digital copies of everything in your bookbag; although that means you can’t use the classic, “the dog ate my homework” excuse! See apartments for rent in Mayfair

Logan Square Branch - 3030 W Fullerton Ave
If you travel to the library on this neighborhood’s preferred mode of transport, then fear not: bike parking is available at the branch in Logan Square. To further demonstrate its commitment to green thinking and sustainability, this library’s also a LEED Silver certified building. Aside from the available computers and meeting rooms, this branch also offers a great chance to see work from local artists on display. Take a look at apartments in Logan Square

West Town Branch - 1624 W Chicago Ave
This branch is situated a couple of blocks east of Eckhart Park on West Chicago Ave and it serves the neighborhoods of West Town, Noble Square and Ukrainian Village. Help yourself to the complimentary WiFi while you crack open a book after enjoying some after-school treats from one of the excellent restaurants or cafes in the vicinity. See the apartments for rent in Ukrainian Village right now

Harold Washington Library Center - 400 S State Ave
No conversation about Chicago’s library system is complete without mentioning the big kahuna on South State Street. This monolithic hall of knowledge in Chicago’s Loop is famous for the gigantic owl sculptures adorning its roof. But did you know that the library offers music practice rooms, meeting rooms, study rooms, WiFi and, for the budding inventors out there, a patent and trademark resource center? It’s true. You can even book areas of the library for private events. Explore apartments for rent in the South Loop

Sulzer Regional - 4455 N Lincoln Ave

Lincoln Square’s library branch is one of the largest in Chicago. It’s called a regional library because it often hosts guest speakers from all over the country. But it’s still a great place to book study rooms and get help with homework assignments if you need to hunker down and study. Check out the apartments in Lincoln Square

Newberry Library - 60 W Walton St
If you’re looking for a local nexus of historical knowledge, the Newberry Library is it. This independent research library on Chicago’s Near North Side offers reader’s cards for free and you can sign up much the same as you would for a Chicago Public Library card. Just show proof of residence, get a card and start brushing up on the Newberry’s historical records. You can also attend speaking events that feature visiting scholars and experts from around the globe. Take a look at apartments for rent in the Near North Side