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The library is more than just books. Every month, the Milwaukee Public Library joins Lake Effect to share resources, book recommendations and cool stuff you might not know about.

Exploring some of the year-round resources offered by the Milwaukee Public Library

Josh Ashing
Stock Adobe

Many of us start the New Year with resolutions from the overly idealistic to more simple goals. As we close out on the first month of 2024 there’s still plenty of time to work toward any new goals you may have and the library may be able to help.

Whether it’s to save money, learn new skills, or make changes for your health, the Milwaukee Public Library has plenty of resources you can access year-round. MPL reference assistant, Josh Ashing details some of the resources that the library offers.

"We have three of them at three of our different branches: Mitchell St., Good Hope and Washington Park [libraries]. They have such a variety of different things that you can do. There's scanners, there's headphones, there's virtual reality headsets, there's a community kitchen at Mitchell St, there's 3D printers, there's a green screen, and Mitchell St. even has a recording studio. They're open for the public," Ashing says.

There are daily Open Maker Time Monday through Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to library closing. Makerspace Facilitators and Teen Interns will be there to help you engage with the space and all it has to offer. Book an appointment to use Makerspace equipment outside of Open Maker Time. Also go to any scheduled event in the Makerspaces — all are welcome!

"You can type in something like, 'Hey, I want five science fiction romance books that are similar to this in the library.' And we'll work on it. We'll get your requests and start putting a few things together for you and you'll pick it up like a regular library hold. It's a nice little service and it kind of gets you out of your comfort zone of like what you normally read," Ashing says.

"With your library card, you can sign into the website, take online classes on virtually any subject you can think of. There's just so many different topics that GAIL and Udemy offer and they're all for free. It's just I always think of it as free education. It's just like free class. They're every six weeks and they give you a certificate. It's nice for your resume," Ashing says.

Josh Ashing
A library Chromebook and hotspot that's available for checkout.

"The backpack comes with a compass, binoculars, bird guides, tree guides and then there's things that can help you explore Wisconsin like trails and bike trails too. I think even comes with like trekking poles. It's a nice little backpack and it gets you ready for going outside," Ashing says. The library is now also offering bike locks that can be used to secure a visitor's bike for the duration of their visit.

"I called this 'library Netflix.' It's just free movies that you can check out. Usually you can get six to eight movies a month. Kanopy is a wonderful thing if you want to cancel subscriptions. I know subscriptions are starting to get a little expensive. Kanopy is a good option," Ashing says. "I also recommend Freegal. Freegal is a music service that we have - you can just download and stream music that we offer."

Additional Resources:

  • Bee Mine Valentine Community Meal — Tuesday, Feb. 13 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Mitchell Street Branch.

Love is in the air! Be our Valentine and enjoy a homemade dinner at Mitchell Street Branch. Test your game skills in MPL’s Trivia Challenge and Bee Mine Friendly Feud while Chef Sharrie’s lovely creations waft from the Cargill Community Kitchen. All supplies will be provided. All ages welcome!Registration is required, walk-ins are welcome if space permits.

  • Discovery Lunches at Zablocki Library

Inspiration starts here! Discovery Lunches are one-hour programs that let you explore and connect with fellow learners on your journey to discovery at the Milwaukee Public Library. A light lunch is provided.
Wednesday, Feb 28 from 12:30-1:30pm — Third Man on the Monument: The story of a Civil War hero born in Milwaukee, Howard Bass Cushing, who posthumously inspired Edgar Rice Burroughs and George Lucas. Presented by James Heinz, local historian.

Tuesdays from 12-1 pm (beginning Feb. 6) — Snack Hack 2.0 at the Mitchell Street Library
Let's eat! Snack Hack explores the world of food through cooking demonstrations that focus on nutritional elements, food groups, cooking principles, and the history of food. Snack Hack also reveals the culinary world through library resources. Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy eating snacks created each week. All supplies will be provided.

  • Gentle Chair Yoga

Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30 am at Capitol Library
Thursday, February 22, 10:30-11:30 am at Tippecanoe Library
Friday, February 23, 10:30-11:30 am at Zablocki Library

This introduction to yoga will focus on low-impact standing and chair-assisted poses. Please wear comfortable clothing and tennis shoes. Chairs will be provided. This class is accessible for all ability levels; no props needed, including mats. Upon arrival, participants will be asked to sign a physical activity waiver.

  • Yoga for Beginners

Wednesdays, 2-3 pm — Bay View Library Yoga for Beginners is an introductory class that utilizes a slow and gentle approach suitable for newcomers and those experienced in Yoga alike. Class instruction will focus on breathing techniques and relaxing poses that stretch the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the legs, shoulders, hips, back and neck. Pose options will be provided to accommodate all body types and skill levels. It is recommended that participants possess enough mobility to sit, lie, kneel and stand on their Yoga mat. Participants should bring their own Yoga mat, Blocks and straps will be provided. Upon arrival, participants will be asked to sign a physical activity waiver.

Register for both yoga programs here.

  • Tech-splanation

Do you have a question about your smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device? You bring it in, the library will help explain how to use it! Need help accessing library resources? Bring your device and questions to a librarian, we can help! Dates and locations of Tech-splanation are listed on the calendar of events.


Work one-on-one with Milwaukee Public Library Business Librarians as they guide you through the library’s business resources. Librarians can help you get started on your business plan, identify your customers and competitors, give tips on creating marketing materials, and more! Sign up for a 45-minute session by calling the Business & Technology Desk at 414-286-3051. Appointments available in-person or virtually.

MPL is Milwaukee’s Third Place! The library is an anchor of Milwaukee's dynamic neighborhoods: creating awareness, fostering community dialog, and serving as the place residents can go to find connections, resources, information, recreation, and technology. Milwaukee Public Library community rooms and conference rooms are available for use by the public when not being used by the library.

  •  Children & Families: Story Times

 Milwaukee Public Library offers a wide variety of story times throughout the week for children and families. See the calendar listing for story times scheduled at MPL locations this month.

  • After School Homework Help: Mondays-Thursdays, 3-5 pm at Atkinson, Center Street, Tippecanoe, and Villard Square Libraries

Drop in for an hour of homework help followed by an hour of fun hands-on activities featuring STEAM opportunities, IT exploration, and literacy skill development. 3:00-4:00-Homework Help; 4:00-5:00-Hands-on activities. Children under 8 years old must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

  • English as a second language (ESL) resources:

English Conversation Hour | Tuesdays | 4-5 pm
English Reading Hour | Second Monday of the month | 4-5 pm
English Listening Hour | Third Thursday of the month | 4-5 pm
ESL/ELL Tutoring for Kids and Teens | Saturdays | 12:30-2:30 pm

Sit down with an experienced tutor for help with English. Work on reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Central Library has tutors to help! The tutoring is free and first come first served. No appointment needed. Please call Ready Reference at 414 286-3011 for current times and days.


Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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