At the head of the libraries of the city stands the public library (established 1872; opened 1874), supported by taxation, which on the 1st of June 1910 had 402,848 volumes, and in the year 1910 circulated 1,805,012 volumes. In 1889 John Crerar (1827-1889), a wealthy manufacturer of railroad supplies, left to the city for the endowment of a non-circulating library funds which in 1907 were estimated to amount to $3,400,000. The library was incorporated in 1894 and was opened in 1897; in February 1908 it had 216,000 volumes and 60,000 pamphlets. It occupies a floor in the Marshall Field Building on Wabash Avenue.
Another reference library was established (opened in 1887) with a bequest (1868) of Walter L. Newberry. It has a rich endowment, and in February 1908 had 191,644 volumes and 43,644 pamphlets. By a plan of co-operation each of these three libraries devotes itself primarily to special fields: the John Crerar is best for the natural, physical and social sciences; the Newberry is particularly strong in history, music, medicine, rare books and fine editions; the public library covers the whole range of general literature.
The library of the University of Chicago contained in 1908 some 450,000 titles.
Among other collections are those of the Chicago Historical Society (1856; about 150,000 titles in 1908), the Athenaeum (1871); the Law Institute and Library (1857), which in 1908 had about 46,500 volumes; the Art Institute, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Academy of Sciences (1857) and the libraries of various schools.
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