SOUTH LOOP — The most valuable thing in a Chicagoan's wallet might be their library card.
A study of world library systems conducted by the Information Science Department of the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany named Chicago's public library system the best in the United States.
Chicago Public Library was ranked third in the world in the same study, trailing Vancouver and Montreal's library systems. Chicago was closely followed by the San Francisco Library, which came in at No. 4. The New York City library system was the only other U.S. city to make the top 10.
The study examined Chicago's Harold Washington Library Center, which recently unveiled a high-tech 3D printer lab, and the two regional outposts and 70 neighborhood branches that encompass the citywide library system.
The study ranked 31 major urban library systems based on available services, including building aesthetics, availability of physical and digital resources and social media interactivity.
Chicago scored points for its vast stores of e-books and journals, and got a nod for multimedia presentation capabilities and designated kid-friendly areas.
"This report adds to the volume of research recognizing the leading global role that Chicago Public Library has taken in leveraging technology to enhance library services," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, calling the city's neighborhood library branches "economic and social anchors in our communities."