Regular readers know that the huge majority of books reviewed here at CCLaP, something like 90 percent of them*, I acquire by checking them out of the Chicago Public Library (CPL) system, just like anyone else; and that makes me very dependent on the CPL, a heavy trafficker of not only their physical branches but their online database. And I'm very happy to announce, in fact, that after years of having one of the clunkiest, least intuitive websites you'd ever encountered, just this week they unveiled a brand-new Web 2.0-ey overhaul of the entire thing, all earth-colors and European-roadsign-typefaces and everything else the creative class loves in their persistent online presences. Not only that, though, but they've overhauled the database itself as to be more intuitive -- smarter search criteria, results that now say things like "Harold Washington, 7th Floor" instead of "HWLCL&L."
Now add the new MyCPL portal, where you can check your account and place reserves; then add the addictive lists of new material the CPL has recently acquired; then add the new events calendar, the recommended-reading lists, the nice little design details like variable font size and a Polish-language version (and I'm not kidding, by the way -- for those who don't know, Chicago has more Polish people than most cities in Poland). Add it all together and you have one massively impressive overhaul indeed, something whose creators I think deserve a lot of attention and accolades. This is what I love seeing in our public institutions; this is what I love seeing taxpayer money being spent on. And it's definitely going to make my job as a heavy patron and daily arts reviewer a lot easier, I'll tell you that.
*And by the way, the other 10 percent or so of books I review here come almost exclusively from basement presses and self-publishers; to this day I still haven't been offered a single review copy from a single major publishing company, a fact I'm actually a little perversely proud of. If you're a basement press or self-publisher, by the way, I'd love to hear from you; just drop me a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com to obtain CCLaP's physical mailing address.