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MIlwaukee Public Library's new branch on Good Hope Road opened on Wednesday.

First Look: Milwaukee Public Library's new Good Hope branch

After years of planning and construction, the Milwaukee Public Library's Good Hope Library opened today at 11 a.m., with limited services.

Not only is it the long-awaited debut of this new library, which is part of a mixed-use development at 7717 W. Good Hope Rd., but it also marks the first reopening of any MPL branch library.

Ground was broken on the library – the fourth new library to be completed in the past nine years (along with Villard Square, East Library, Mitchell Street and a renovated Tippecanoe) – in September 2018.

The $6.35 million library – developed in partnership with Maures Development and Royal Capital Group – is a replacement for the Mill Road branch, 6431 N. 76th St.. which opened in 1970.

While Engberg Anderson designed the $19 million building, which also includes 65 units of affordable apartments, Zimmerman Architectural Studios designed the vibrant library space.

The third largest branch library in the system, with its 18,400 square feet – behind Mitchell Street's 23,000 square feet and Washington Park's 20,000 square feet – the library has a bright lounge with lots of windows and a fireplace that also opens into an adjacent community room.

There's a separate, glassed-in teen area, as well as a makerspace focused on manufacturing – which represents businesses in the neighborhood – that is also behind a glass wall.

Further back is a welcoming children's area with a circular nook and a wall that not only separates the space from the adult stacks but offers reading nooks and some hands-on activities.

In the far corner is a trio of reservable study rooms. These, like the teen space and the makers space have colorful tinted windows that add visual spice to a clean, welcoming interior.

According to MPL's Sam McGovern-Rowen, at community meetings, Mill Road patrons requested a focus on desktop computers more than laptops and so that's been done, though at the moment – to ensure social distancing – only some of the computers are installed for use.

There are some computers available for public use right now as well as WiFi, reference services and pick-up of items on hold. The public is not currently allowed to browse the library stacks due to the shutdown.

But there are rows and rows of books here, of course, as well as DVDs, magazines, newspapers, CDs and other items.

Much of the seating is currently removed, too, for social distancing but will be returned to the library floor when the branch is fully opened.

"It is exciting to finally be able to open the doors of our newest jewel, the Good Hope branch," said library director Paula Kiely, who will retire in late August, and be replaced by her current deputy, Joan Johnson. "We have been anxious to return library service to patrons in this community, and in such a technologically advanced, bright and beautiful space.

"Even with restrictions imposed in the current COVID environment, Good Hope will absolutely be an anchor institution in this dynamic neighborhood."

Added Mayor Tom Barrett at the opening, "This is not your grandma's library, this is a place where we can put our democracy into action, put racial justice into action.

"This is a place where we can create opportunities for all people – of all races, of all incomes, of all genders. This is our moral obligation as a city. I'm proud of all the team members who worked together to have this vision and make this a reality. The Good Hope branch library has been a long time coming, but it will be an enduring amenity for this neighborhood and our city."

Here are some images from inside the library:

Main desk

Lounge

Community room

Teen space

Children's area

Study rooms

Maker space

Stacks

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