For those who don't know, the Chicago Public Library is the largest public library system in the United States, and perhaps even the world; or at least, it's a known fact that our city's Harold Washington branch in the Loop is the largest public library on the planet, as confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records. But the CPL has unfortunately been having just as many budget problems as every other library system these days; so to boost awareness, they recently opened a "mini-branch" down in the main Chicago Visitor Center in the historic Water Tower building, right at Chicago Avenue in the heart of the tourist-friendly Magnificent Mile. I just got a chance to visit it myself for the first time, and as you can see in the above photos, it's actually pretty cool -- it's simply one room in the multi-room facility, stocked with maybe 200 or 300 of the biggest bestsellers the CPL carries, along with all the equipment needed to let local citizens check them out right there and then. Why, you can even have your reserved books delivered there, and pick them up after work! As you can see, this is but one of several facilities inside the Chicago Visitor Center, including a nice cafe and a wonderful little lounge area for weary tourists; it was the first time I had ever been in the Water Tower (there's usually not much of a reason to visit if you're a local), and I have to admit that I was impressed, especially when compared to some of the Visitor Centers I've had to deal with over in Europe in the past. Anyway, I highly recommend checking it out, especially you locals who have day jobs down in the area; it really is this nice little addition to the entire CPL system.