MILWAUKEE, WI - It’s out with the old and in with the new for the Milwaukee Public Library.
The library system is replacing its Forest Home Branch with its new Mitchell Street Branch, and not only is the space bigger, but it’s also equipped with more technology.
“It is beautiful, it is extremely special," said Paula Kiely.
Kiely, the library director, is referring to a 23,000-square-foot space that was once used to house a department store. The new neighborhood library has been built inside the historic former Hills building and features many original details including molding, ornate columns, and refurbished metal railings.
“Like a parent who doesn’t have a favorite child, but really does, every new library we open is my favorite," Kiely said.
"The Mitchell Street Branch is now my new favorite branch library," Kiely also said.
The Milwaukee Public Library Foundation raised over $300,000 for the new facility. The city and a condominium developer helped foot the rest of the bill, that’s why there are 60 condos available for rent directly above the library.
“It’s a way to leverage city funding with developer financed funding," Kiely said.
The library was also designed with providing a technology-rich space to the public in mind. The lower level of the library even includes a makerspace for teens to learn coding, video editing, creating art projects, and much more.
“We want them to know that the library is theirs," said Petra Duecker.
"It's a place for them, and also [we want them to] really feel empowered and enriched by the materials and resources that we have here, and then we really want them to come back," Duecker also said.
Historic preservation tax credits and new market tax credits were also used to help fund the library. The grand opening of the facility is Saturday, Oct. 7 at 10 a.m.