Milwaukee Libraries: Washington Park

This sunny day was a great day to visit the outstanding Washington Park branch of Milwaukee Public Library. Its large, airy space was filled with sunlight and people reading, working on computers, getting help with scanning and printing, and other activities. The Washington Park branch is a relatively new library, having opened in 2003, and was the first in MPL’s work towards renovating/rebuilding its branches. The Washington Park Library replaced the Finney Library that had served MKE for 50 years. Being that its location is at a convergence of many neighborhoods – like Washington Park, Sherman Park, Metcalfe Park, Walnut Hill, Washington Heights, Uptown, and St. Joseph’s – this branch was built to be “extra-large” to handle the number of people it would serve. It IS the largest of the MPL branch libraries, at 20,000 square-feet it’s twice the size of the Finney. Also making this branch nice is that it’s set on a east-west axis, with large windows on the southern face, bringing in lots of light!

It’s obvious why this library serves as a great hub for the community; on the second floor, it has a large meeting room that can hold up to 80 people (and anyone can reserve it), and on the first floor has a smaller meeting room, too. There is a story-reading corner for the younger kids, and adjacent to that is a craft area! Heck, I even saw a small puppet theatre kids could play with, that was in the shape of a 7-foot tall, wooden robot!

In the library’s entrance hangs a large glass art-piece called MEGAPHOR. It was created by WI artist, Steve Feren,  and was funded by a grant from the MKE Arts Board.

The statue that sits near the library is of Baron Frederick von Steuben, a German hero of the American Revolutionary War; it was commissioned in 1921 by the Steuben Society. The library sits on the north edge of Washington Park, one of Milwaukee’s three city parks designed by Charles Olmsted, the landscape architect responsible for the world-famous Central Park in New York City.  (the other two parks are Riverside Park and Lake Park…)

If you haven’t been to this branch of MPL, you should definitely visit – it’s exceptional!


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