When you really think about it, libraries are a pretty amazing concept. You walk in with a simple question, and minutes later, you walk out with a stack of potential answers… without spending a penny.
According to the American Library Association, there are at least 9,000 public libraries in the US, and Wisconsin is home to more than 380, meaning most people have one, if not more, within ten minutes of them.
October is National Book Month–the perfect time to celebrate the state’s best libraries! We compiled a list of four Wisconsin libraries, known for their books, their backstories, and their beauty.
MORE: 8 Books By Wisconsin Authors to Add to Your Reading List
Bayfield Public Library
One of the oldest libraries in the state, the Bayfield Carnegie Library has more than 150 years of experience providing information, knowledge, and wisdom to locals. The library owns more than 20,000 items available for checkout, but what makes its collection unique is that its selection is tailored to its community, with a focus on sailing, kayaking, boat building, lighthouses, and Bayfield history.
Milwaukee Public Library
With its stunning architecture, historical artifacts, artwork, and second-to-none children’s department, the downtown Milwaukee Public Library is the state’s busiest library for a reason. Spanning a full block, its interior was designed in French and Italian renaissance styles, and the monumental building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, Milwaukee’s library system serves 50,000 people, and manages 12 neighborhood libraries, in addition to book depositories at several local grocery stores.
Neenah Public Library
One of the state’s 60 original “Carnegie libraries,” the Neenah Public Library has an amazing history. The building was funded thanks to a generous donation from Andrew Carnegie (often referred to as the ‘Patron Saint of Libraries’), who donated more than $56 million in the early 1900s to build 2,500 libraries throughout the English-speaking parts of the world. Stop by to enjoy the library’s sweeping views of the Fox River, or let the library come to you through its Bibliocycle program [pictured below]!
Wabeno Public Library
Tucked into a nook in the Northwoods, the Wabeno Public Library is the state’s only log cabin library. It’s fitting because the little town of 1,000 people was built around three lumber companies. City leaders bought the cabin in 1923 and converted it into a library. It’s now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While Wabeno’s library is much smaller than the others on this list, card holders can access its expansive digital library, where they have access to thousands of books, magazine, audiobooks, and professional courses online.
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