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 â€“ 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 â€“ Library Manager Eileen Lipinski, who was among the friendliest and most cheerful I've ever encountered â€“ took a call from someone seeking clarification on city ordinances regarding Segways on city thoroughfares.
If you have a question you'd like â€“ or you need â€“ 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 Feb. 12, 2016
T. Rex's bigger and badder cousin Giganotosaurus is here and so are some of his friends, until May 15. The new exhibit at Milwaukee Public Museum is full of interactives and more that your kids (and you) will love. Here are some of them.
Published Feb. 11, 2016
Thanks to Milwaukeean and photographer Adam Levin, who found a treasure trove of old Kodachrome half-frame slides of Milwaukee in an antiques store, we can offer up these gorgeous photos of the city as it appeared in the 1970s.
Published Feb. 6, 2016
Milwaukee is and has always been America's beer capital, so it makes perfect sense that the country's first African American brewery was born here thanks to Theodore Mack, Henry Crosby and their cohorts.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
The '50s might seem like light years away, but, really, you can get there in under an hour, by checking out some of these classic dining spots - including some drive-ins with car hops - in Kenosha.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
Despite the fact that it's cold outside, I wake up in the middle of the night a lot these days thinking about frozen custard. That's because I'm co-authoring a book about this delicacy at the moment and it's consuming me even more than I consume custard, which is saying something.
Published Feb. 1, 2016
Now that the Tippecanoe Library revamp is complete, attention is turning fully toward a mixed-use development that will replace the Mill Road branch. Here are some facts about the planned new library development at 7717 W. Good Hope Rd.
Published Jan. 29, 2016
Two turntables and a microphone has morphed into a laptop. But not all club DJs have given vinyl the toss. We caught up with Steven Watkins, who DJs at numerous venues around town, playing a variety of music to ask him about working as an "unplugged" turntablist.
Published Jan. 27, 2016
We're celebrating unplugged week here at OnMilwaukee - ironic, I know - but it's a perfect reminder that there is plenty to get out and do in this town if you'd just put the damn phone down for a minute (yes, guilty as charged). Here are six museums and shows worth checking out right now...
Published Jan. 26, 2016
Another remnant of old Milwaukee will soon disappear from the landscape as workers begin to deconstruct the four-story, 16-flat Vermont, 610 E. Mason St., to make way for Northwestern Mutual's 33-story, more than $100 million development that will occupy nearly the entire block.
Published Jan. 25, 2016
Each year on Jan. 25, Scotland and Scot-o-philes and poetry fans celebrate Burns Night to mark the birthday of the legendary voice of Caledonia, Robert Burns. Get in the spirit with some single malts from Islay.