By Jenna Green
As this year’s conference asks us to consider commonplaces, it seems serendipitous that the Milwaukee Public Library’s Central Branch, an essential Milwaukee commonplace, is just three blocks from the convention center. An architectural, historical, and cultural jewel, Central Library is a place for learning, reading, exploring, connection, and contemplation.
Opened to the public in 1898, the French and Italian Renaissance architectural-style building features a stunning rotunda and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library nonprofit organization offers free docent tours highlighting the building’s architectural and historical significance. Tours begin at 11:00 a.m. each Saturday morning in the rotunda. Private tours at other times and sign language interpretation are available by appointment by calling (414) 286-TOUR.
In addition to the extensive paper and digital collections, Central Library also boasts a 33,000 square foot Green Roof, Betty Brinn Children’s Room featuring a Hans Christian Andersen stained glass window, community events and the Richard E. and Lucille Krug rare books room. Learn more about the extensive rare books collection here.
Book lovers (i.e. CCCC attendees!) will want to visit The Bookseller, located on the first floor of Central Library. Find recent bestsellers, newly published and unique nonfiction and fiction alike for a fraction of the price of any other book store in town. Most children’s books are 25 cents, paperbacks 50 cents, and hardcovers one dollar. Operated by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library and staffed almost entirely by volunteers, The Bookseller generates revenue to support the library and its literacy initiatives in Milwaukee.
The Bookseller is also home to R Café, a woman of color-owned business offering coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, and sweet treats. Watch for special displays and offerings for CCCC attendees.
Looking for other opportunities to learn about Milwaukee’s literary scene? Consider a visit to these neighborhood independent bookstores:
Boswell Book Company
A treasure among Milwaukee bibliophiles, Boswell offers a charming, intimate environment to browse, read, and shop on Milwaukee’s East Side. Owner Daniel Goldin and his knowledgeable staff will help you find your next favorite book. Boswell is also known for hosting many author events and supporting local writers.
For poetry lovers, a visit to Woodland Pattern is a must. It’s a staple Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood with a longstanding history and commitment to community engagement. The nonprofit bookstore is a haven for poets, small presses, and local authors, while offering events, readings, workshops and art exhibitions.
Half a mile from the Wisconsin Center, this abundant and quirky used book shop is perfect for finding a unique souvenir.
Voyageur Book Shop
Located in the heart of Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood, Voyageur is a used bookstore with an emphasis on rare books.
Jenna Green is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Marquette University. Her teaching and research focuses on digital and multimodal composing, literacy studies, and multilingual writers.