I’m sitting windowside at the recently renovated Tippecanoe branch of the Milwaukee Public Library. Before the renovation, this nice, sunny area didn’t exist – the north wall of the branch was covered in bricks with a few small-ish windows – now it’s a long wall with floor-to-ceiling windows, lined with tables for people to work at. The redoing of this library changed a lot, but also kept some things the same.
The library’s ceiling is still dominated by “The Spirit of Manitou”, a sculpture by WI artist and 1960s faculty chair of the Layton School of Art (forerunner to MIAD), Guido Brink. The sculpture was installed back in 1969, when the branch was opened! New to the branch is that it is lit primarily by energy-efficient LED lights. This effort to make the builiding a more environmentally-conscious, sustainable one is apparent in many of the building’s changes.
The footprint of the building is the same as in 1969, but now some of the interior space has been made into a convertible meeting-space – open to library visitors at times, closed off when library events are taking place (like their every-other-month Trivia Nights!). The parking lot behind the building is the same, too …except that there has now been added a rain garden, a rain swale in the center and that’s abutted by permeable pavers – all of this working to keep rainwater in the ground and minimize it going into the sewer. Some of these neat efforts to be sustainable were the library’s ideas, and were funded with grants from MMSD (Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewage District). The library manager told me that these efforts are definitely appreciated by the library’s visitors, as he mentioned “we >are< in the aldermanic district that’s called the Garden District, after all!” 🙂
So, I love libraries in general, but when you combine it with thoughtful, sustainable, environmentally-friendly building ideas, you’ve totally got a winner “in my book”! Let’s repeat: rain garden/rain swale/permeable pavers, plenty of bicycle parking, LED lights, and regularly-scheduled environmental education events – Tippecanoe has recognized that a library can be a great proponent of more than one mission! It can be about sharing information, community education and connections, and be environmentally conscious. Great work, Tippecanoe!
The library is popular with its visitors for its movie collection and for its job-search resources. It has a good selection of fiction and nonfiction, but is unique in the MPL system, in that its also contains a fair amount of Spanish and Arabic books.
Also, it was neat to see that the ZipMKE project is currently on display at this library branch – stop down and check out photos of Milwaukee – every zip code from the people of Milwaukee!