Since September 2016, I’ve been on a mission to visit all the City of Milwaukee branches of the Milwaukee Public Library system. While there was never a plan to the visits, there was one thing that was sure – I was saving the Central Library for last, as it’s the most mammoth library of the system. Last week, I finally visited Central…and dang it, my heart loves visiting a library…
The Central Library was built back in 1898, and while it retains its classic exterior, it’s neither stodgy nor dusty. There are tours of the library offered every Saturday at 11a; there’s the Bookseller Used Bookstore and Coffeeshop. The roof is a “green rooftop“, and the lower levels hold Centennial Hall, which hosts a variety of performances and lectures on a regular basis.
The Children’s Area is as big as some entire libraries, and has a Hans Christian Andersen Window hanging in it; it also has a playhouse for kids – that’s a tall lighthouse!
The Rare Books Room has 14,000+ items in a climate-controlled space, and the library itself has over 3 MILLION items in its collections (books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs, eBooks, and more!). There are also a number of different research databases open to the public (for instance, there is the Roads Collection (railroads), ShipShape (11,000 physical documents about Great Lakes ships), and the WI Architecture Archive (12,500+ documents and drawings)). There’s even collections of posters, German Theater Scripts, and Historic MKE Photos!
If a person is visiting Milwaukee, they should put a visit to Central on their agenda. And, if a person lives in the metro-Milwaukee area, they should be visiting here on a regular basis.
Honest, there are few things as inspiring as a library. A library is about fulfilling our potential, if we have the desire and the discipline. With the collections at hand, and librarians to assist, there is little a person can’t learn. As I’ve seen in my library visits these past eight months – libraries give people access: to jobs, to information, to education. They help people to succeed; no matter their situation, the library is there to help.
Please, use your libraries, and if you can SUPPORT your libraries – they are one of the greatest things a city can offer its residents.