Read/Write Library raises funds for new programs
The Read/Write Library (formerly the Chicago Underground Library) is one of Chicago's most invaluable literary organizations. Located in a former gallery at 914 North California Avenue, it's an ever-growing, browsable archive of indie and small press media—newspapers, zines, books, broadsides and more—all from and/or about Chicago. Its mission is to map "the evolution of Chicago's communities and movements," while also encouraging the production of new media via workshops and events.
Read/Write's annual Stacks! fund-raiser—a soul dance party featuring DJs from Windy City Soul Club, The Rabbit Factory and Fear City Sound System—happens tonight at Late Bar (10pm, $10 donation). I check in with founder Nell Taylor about what's happening at the library and what those donations are going toward.
What programs do you have coming up at Read/Write?
We have a ton going on right now. This summer is crazy busy, with many different programs happening, so it's good timing for us to have this benefit. The organization recently acquired Gabriel Levinson's old Book Bike—he gave it to us on permanent loan—and we've since changed the name to the BiblioTreka. We've been starting kind of local, taking it over to Comfort Station in Logan Square every Thursday and Sunday. Comfort Station's music series is on Thursdays, and their lecture series is on Sundays, so we've been curating a selection of material to go along with whatever the subjects are each week, which is the same thing we do with non-Bibliotreka pop-up libraries that we curate. We're also planning on taking the BiblioTreka on the road and doing more pop-up libraries around the city. Another project we have coming up involves working with youth and recording public histories.
Where do you source most of your publications?
We inherited the Publishers Gallery [formerly housed at the Chicago Cultural Center]. Most of what we get comes through donations. We do want to eventually be able to establish a fund to purchase some of this stuff—a small acquisition budget—while still accepting donations of people's private, personal or historical collections. But right now we're focusing on infrastructural development—working on our programs and toward having a full-time employee.
What are some of the more interesting publications you've acquired recently?
We have a lot of really cool stuff. I'm a big fan of our community newspaper collection. Anything that can offer a parallel history to that which is commonly understood about the city is, I think, incredibly useful and interesting to look at. I love a lot of our poetry and fiction and art books that are really space-specific—things about neighborhoods, or publications from organizations that aren't around anymore that give you a window into what the experiences of that community were like.
Stacks! happens tonight, June 28, at Late Bar. Dress like a mod librarian, and you might win a prize.