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"Bricks without Straw": Economic Hardship and Innovation in the Chicago Public Library during the Great Depression

From: Libraries & the Cultural Record
Volume 46, Number 3, 2011
pp. 258-275 | 10.1353/lac.2011.0014



"Bricks without straw" is an expression that means to make do with insufficient resources. It is also an apt description of the challenges facing the Chicago Public Library during the early years of the Depression. The library was forced to limp along with a fraction of its normal funding. This article explores how the library coped with such difficult financial circumstances and how, in some ways, it ultimately emerged as an innovative, community-oriented institution.