The official Newberry blog exploring the library’s collection and the kernels of mind-blowing knowledge that our users and staff pull from it.
Another year of connecting library visitors, staff, and collections is almost in the books. As we turn the page on 2019, we reflect on a year’s worth of historical inquiry and discovery in our reading rooms, exhibition galleries, and program spaces.
By the Numbers
- 5,353 people used our collection in 2019
- Our users came from 48 states plus the District of Columbia. The two missing states? North Dakota and Wyoming.
- What about international users? Users visited the Newberry from 38 different countries and territories.
- Users made 15,569 requests to view collection items in our reading rooms.
- 86,613 people visited our exhibition galleries
- 9,725 people attended 62 public programs
The Five Most Requested Items of the Year
- Irish pedigrees; or, the origin and stem of the Irish nation, by John O’Hart
- Popol Vuh
- Abraham Lincoln, an American migration; family English not German, by Marion Dexter Learned
- The Lady Alice Oldfeild her Kallicia and Philædus (1650s). Unpublished manuscript of an early prose romance by George Hitchcock.
- Shakespeare First Folio (1623)
The Five Most Requested Archival Collections of the Year
- Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company Records. 2,341 linear feet of correspondence, reports, maps, blueprints, photographs, and other materials documenting the history of the CB&Q.
- Illinois Central Railroad Company Archives. 1,020 linear feet of materials documenting the activities of the Illinois Central Railroad Company and its subsidiary lines.
- Pullman Company Records. 2,132 linear feet of records from the railroad sleeping car operator and manufacturer. Included in this archive are copious employee records.
- Ben Hecht Papers. 92 linear feet of works, correspondence, and artifacts (including an Academy Award) from journalist, novelist, and screenwriter Ben Hecht.
- Ann Barzel Dance Research Collection. 340 linear feet of materials collected by dance critic Ann Barzel, documenting the history of dance in Chicago and across the globe.
Longest Public Program of the Year: Moby Dick Read-a-Thon
On January 21 and 22, 163 people embarked on a voyage of cetaceous proportions: to collectively read Moby Dick cover to cover. The Moby Dick Read-a-Thon, which lasted 25.5 hours, was held in conjunction with our winter exhibition, Melville: Finding America at Sea.
Largest Used Book Sale of the Year: The 2019 Newberry Book Fair
Most Regional Exhibition of the Year: What Is the Midwest?
In 2019, the Newberry led a public reckoning with the legacy of the most violent week in Chicago history. Partnering with 13 other cultural organizations in the city, the library coordinated a series of community conversations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Chicago race riots.
- 11 free public programs in 8 locations across Chicago
- 64 speakers/performers/discussion leaders
- 2,700 attendees