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Mass book borrowing at Galewood–Mont Clare Library | The scene

An act of civil obedience in the name of more books.

Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

April 1, 5:41pm The idea could’ve seemed, to a librarian, like a cruel April Fool’s joke: Northwest Side residents assembling to check out the entire Galewood–Mont Clare Library collection in a single day. Neal Wankoff, a member of the Galewood Residents Organization, called it an act of “civil obedience.” Emily Runyan (pictured) and her daughter, Edith, were among those queued up in the tiny library, lugging tall stacks of books—up to 30 could be borrowed at a time—as a couple of beleaguered librarians busily scanned bar codes like grocery clerks. Among Edith’s picks were illustrated biographies of Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie. Mom grabbed The Campaign, the Will Ferrell–Zach Galifianakis vehicle. The mass-borrowing stunt kicked off a monthlong effort to prop up circulation at the library and draw city officials’ attention to the community’s desire for a more robust local literacy institution. Currently, Galewood–Mont Clare closes at 6pm most weekdays and has no weekend hours; it doesn’t have a public computer or Wi-Fi access; and as opposed to most neighborhood branches, which boast collections of around 20,000, according to one librarian, Galewood–Mont Clare has only 3,000 books. In 2010, it was relocated from a sizable storefront to its current cramped room in the 1923 Rutherford Sayre Park field house. “It’s like a 25-foot-by-25-foot room,” said 36th Ward Ald. Nicholas Sposato. “That’s unacceptable for this community.”

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