As in most cities, Milwaukee has a wealth of sources for uncovering its history. In addition to the collections at Milwaukee Public Library and the Milwaukee County Historical Society, there are two fine universities with libraries and other sources, too.
One of the most pleasurable in which to work is the Legislative Reference Bureau, tucked away in the basement of City Hall, next to the mouth of the tunnel that runs under Market Street and connects to the Zeidler Municipal Building.
It's an unassuming space – or, it would be if there wasn't a floor-to-ceiling glass wall displaying Milwaukee books, like the world's best local-interest bookshop.
There are just a couple worktables in the main entrance, where the librarian on duty sits. That's because though folks come in to do research, a lot of work is transacted over the phone, via email or behind the scenes for municipal departments.
To quote the bureau's own brochure, "LRB research analysts attend all Common Council and Common Council standing committee meeting to assist the Council and other city departments in formulating city ordinances and policy. In addition to drafting city ordinances and resolutions, research analysts also research and write report for the Common Council dealing with governmental concerns."
The LRB also conducts surveys on municipal issues, provides budget analysis for the Council and, yes, allows the public to make use of its knowledge and its stacks of materials chronicling the history of our fair city, from census reports to newspaper clippings to city directories, books, city code histories, database services and more.
I stopped in today to say thanks to the bureau for displaying my book in its window, to make a donation of a Milwaukee book it didn't yet have in its collection and to spend a few minutes paging through a couple volumes of Milwaukee School Board proceedings to get a sense of what can be found at LRB.
While I was there, a woman at another table was working her way through a cart load of Milwaukee City Directories, searching for I don't know what. The librarian at the desk – Library Manager Eileen Lipinski, who was among the friendliest and most cheerful I've ever encountered – took a call from someone seeking clarification on city ordinances regarding Segways on city thoroughfares.
If you have a question you'd like – or you need – answered, you can call the LRB at (414) 286-8818 or email askLRB@milwaukee.gov. It's your LRB, check it out sometime.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published July 28, 2015
Some details of the plan for the new development in the trio of National Ace Hardware buildings on 4th and McKinley have emerged, right as plans for a new arena and entertainment district across the street have taken steps forward.
Published July 25, 2015
One of the Milwaukee area's most interesting parks is a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth making tracks to Lizard Mound County Park in Farmington, just north of West Bend in Washington County. A wooded path twists and turns through 28 Native American effigy mounds, including the one shaped like a huge lizard which gives the park its name.
Published July 24, 2015
Green Lake is a place of superlatives. Here are eight of the many reasons to fall in love with Green Lake, which is an easy 90-minute drive from Milwaukee.
Published July 24, 2015
What a long strange trip it was. While theaters like the Downer and Oriental have venerable histories as long-running cinema houses, consider, if you will, the the more varied history of the now-dilapidated State Theater, 2616 W. State St. Originally a movie theater, the State has served a number of purposes - rock venue, prudish dance hall and strip club - in its nearly 100-year history.
Published July 22, 2015
There were about 500 people on hand to watch U2 at The Palms on April 15, 1981. The show was part of the Irish band's first U.S. tour. Here's a look back...
Published July 21, 2015
Come with me to see the progress on the restoration of The Pabst Mansion's third floor and also peek into the basement and attic, and experience the view from the roof of this Milwaukee landmark.
Published July 17, 2015
Milwaukee neighborhoods were once awash in movie theaters, as hard as that may be to imagine these days when you can count the number of non-googleplex cinemas in the city limits on one hand. While many are lost, a few remain. At 3804 W. Vliet St. is a former longtime carpet store that's been closed the past few years. But, originally, the building was home to The Lyric Theater, which operated from 1917 to 1952.
Published July 14, 2015
In 2012, I toured the surviving Alexander Eschweiler-designed Agricultural College buildings on the County Grounds, when their roofs gaped open to the stars - and the elements - and weeds encircled their exteriors. Despite talk of tearing them down, and an ongoing battle to save them from demolition, four of the buildings survive, even as six new apartment buildings are rising around them.
Published July 14, 2015
The WMA managed to get an alternative teacher-licensing track included in the omnibus that allows graduates from a program accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education, (MACTE) to apply for a Wisconsin state teaching license to teach in a public or charter Montessori school.
Published July 13, 2015
Last week, Milwaukee lost a talented, dedicated, hard-working historian. But when former Italian Community Center president Mario Carini died on July 7, at the age of 78, Milwaukee's Italian community lost a force of nature.