She walked the three blocks of tree lined streets leading to her favorite place in the whole entire world, the place where she had discovered her love of reading. She was so happy, thinking about how she would bring home a new book today. The summer reading program was underway and she had already exceeded her goal, but this was also when the librarians laid out the new books and she was hoping to be among the first to check one out.

It was July, 1963 and her 10th birthday was next week. As she walked up the back stairs and opened the large door she could feel the cool air of the building greet her. She drew in the familiar smell, not an odor of dampness or mildew, but the smell she associated with old books. The red brick library was erected around 1917 after the city was granted $15,000 from the Carnegie foundation and was a community fixture.

She walked down the enormous staircase which was as wide as the width of the entire building, facing its twin on the opposite side. She held the railing, but was tempted to go down the middle, like a princess descending at a ball, but she didn’t dare defy the Librarian’s posted order to hold onto the railing! As she reached the bottom on her left were two doors leading to a mysterious AUDITORIUM which she had never seen. As she turned to her right the Children’s Library greeted her. The large polished wooden counter was taller than she was and provided a barrier between the children and the ever present librarians. They glanced up at her and then back down again as she was almost as much of a fixture as they were. Directly in front of her was the red brick fireplace with the summer reading program statistics, using a rocket theme this year, posted right above the mantle. She checked to see that her name was still comfortably in first place, and it was!

She eyed the long shiny reading tables flanked by the old wooden chairs who were waiting for her to sit and test a new read to see if it held her interest. As she moved to the books on display she saw a new one by a familiar author; Mimi’s House Party. Gently lifting the book she moved over to her favorite table, the one beneath the windows which were large and tall, although they were underground. She settled in, opened the book and stepped into a world of a young college girl, allowing herself to become engrossed in yet another new adventure.

Andrew Carnegie Library

South Milwaukee Public Library

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