Even as the building was under construction, Melvin Thompson sometimes sat outside the Carter G. Woodson library branch and stared at the illuminated black and white image of Vivian G. Harsh, Chicago’s first black librarian, reflected in the glass.
The library — which houses the Harsh collection, the largest repository of documents, original paperwork and literature related to the African-American experience in the Midwest — has been shrouded by dark metal scaffolding for nearly a decade to protect walkers from its falling debris.
But in recent months, that scaffolding has been removed, revealing a new terra cotta facade and portraits of Harsh and Woodson in the new windows.
“To see that portrait of Harsh, staring out at 95th and Halsted, it sends such a strong message,” Thompson said. “It’s a call to order. Don’t sit back, if your community needs something, do something about it.”