By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 10, 2015 at 2:02 PM

In October, we got a peek at the progress on the renovations at the Tippecanoe branch of Milwaukee Public Library, 3912 S. Howell Ave. Today, we got one last look before the library reopens Saturday, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m.

The library closed on Jan. 30 and a temporary branch opened in a storefront across Howell Avenue while renovations and improvements were made to the building, which was constructed in 1968-69.

The renovations are coming in at budget – $4.5 million – according to MPL spokesperson Brooke VandeBerg.

The 16,900-square foot branch refresh, designed by Engberg Anderson Architects, includes a "Secret Garden" to the east in honor of City Librarian Paula Kiely, for whom Tippecanoe was her childhood library.

The garden was the result of community input meetings and was added at the request of Garden District neighbors, but was outside the scope of City funding, according to VandeBerg. So, MPL launched a search for private donors, and MPL Foundation board member Barbara Stein contributed the necessary funds.

The late addition of the garden to the project pushed the final completion – the library was initially slated to reopen this summer – back by a few months.

But it's worth the wait. The buffed up place includes new window bays along Howard Avenue, a glass-walled meeting room, a rain garden, a gorgeous wooden cathedral ceiling, updated technology and other features.

A $75,000 grant from the MMSD and the Fund for Lake Michigan helped underwrite sustainability features like rain gardens, bioswales and permeable parking lot pavement.

Guido Brink's colorful hanging sculpture, "The Spirit of the Manitou," has been reinstalled, though a bit further back in the room than where it used to hang, which allows visitors to get a wider view of it when they enter.

Though the layout might make it appear that there are more volumes here than at the East Library, it's an optical illusion. Both libraries have similarly sized collections and, in fact, East's is a little larger.

Milwaukee Public Library has replaced two branches with new libraries in mixed-use buildings (Villard Square and East) and is in the process of doing the same for two more (Forest Home and Mill Road). It also installed an express library at Westlawn Gardens at 64th Street and Silver Spring Drive last year.

"The new facilities will help the city continue to improve library service and save ongoing operating costs, while anchoring catalytic community development projects for each of the neighborhoods and business districts in which the projects are located," reads an MPL statement.

"Mayor Tom Barrett, the Common Council and the Library Board of Trustees have dedicated $22.5 million to the redevelopment project. By 2020, the branch system will be completely redeveloped including renovations and upgrades. The branch library system is developed with a shared vision to create community collaboration and lifelong learning through the built environment."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.