Using the proper pronunciation of this Ohio town’s name, rather than the Italian one, these lyrics from Look At Miss Ohio make sense as regards Milan Public Library ;)
The red tile roof on this handsome brick Carnegie facility sets off the pretty rickrack trim on its facade and the row of high windows encircling the original 1912 building.
Conveniently located across from the bandstand and monument in the town square, cheery dandelions dot the lawn while shrubs and bushes border the parking lot and paving stones guide you to a bike stand and the drink and snack vending machines in the vestibule.
Doors on either end of the spacious lobby pass polished pine bulletin boards presenting eye catching announcements of upcoming amusements above arrays of tax forms. Ferns in ceramic pots and cushy seating by a glass coffee table provide a pleasant spot to chat. Portraits hang from the walls and photographs highlighting the beauty of the early 20th century architecture and the 1980 addition plaque in a well lit niche commemorate the structure’s several iterations prior to the 2013 children’s wing project.
A half flight ascends to the main level and a Circulation Desk with railings protecting little ones on the two small steps that bring them face to face with personnel. Thin crosshatching slats on the office wall and panes echo the embellishments outside. I met Barbara, the friendly technical services librarian, and she helpfully answered my many questions.
Tweens have a lot of choices. On “May the 4th Be With You”😉 watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Go to Free Comic Book Day or attend Pop Culture Club (all the programs have clever names – someone has a quick wit).
Here in Milan, the young adult corner has donated board games, tall stacks with portable stairs and barstools around a high table. Armchairs come equipped with handy writing surfaces and castors for easy repositioning. Recommended books march around the stages of a three tiered unit. Teens can check out games or take a Finance 101 course.
MPL is one of two locales of the combined Milan-Berlin Library District and their joint teen calendar shows a very full agenda. Adolescents can go to the Shake Your Tail Feathers Dance Party or Get Your Tech On with pizza and video games. Dungeons and Dragons, teen trivia tournaments, classes on mobile apps and crafts like Instagram coasters, pompom bookmarks or turning wine corks into mini-planters for Earth Day are just a few of the enticing options.
Moving on, spiffy zigzag cases hold newspapers and face out titles by the audio visual section where gleaming pyramids of DVDs and CDs live.
When Barbara escorted me behind the scenes she reassured me that the realistic sword was a Game of Thrones recap party prop and that they weren’t taking in users’ recycling – the collection of milk jugs would eventually be used to construct an igloo. An antique popcorn popper joins the typical jumble of half cataloged items…
…and program detritus that make possible such offerings as mini golf in the library, Mother’s Day Tea, an evening of string art for Valentine’s and a chili cook-off. Bring out your creative self with ikebana, Patio & Container Gardening and interesting craft sessions like Ukrainian egg decorating and make your own “box” car or Mason jar vases. Hear the history behind chocolate or compete in the Chocolate Olympics. Chance a blind date with a book, gobble up cheese tasting afternoon or play cards at regular Winter Wednesdays (with hot dogs or tacos – yum). They have author talks, book clubs, blood drives, food for fines and at the Chinese New Year celebration, everyone made kites and drums and feasted on delicious treats.
Children have frequent storytimes and someone dressed as Ella led the Frozen sing along. The Read 1,000 books aloud to your child before kindergarten challenge does seem a bit daunting but there are family fun nights and infant safety skill instruction too.
And there’s a great place with overstuffed sofas ideal for power naps after all that planning.
I was curious about the gramophone horns scattered everywhere, which seem to be used as MPL’s symbol. Barbara explained that Thomas Edison (TE) was from Milan and his birthplace is just a couple of blocks away.
It’s a prosperous little village, the Huron River and Milan Canal made 19th century citizens rich, so they are well supported by mil levy. Plus, Ohio is one of the only states (besides HI, whose library system encompasses the entire state anyway) to get library funding from their government (yay Ohio!!!) and residents have bequeathed them money in their wills. Though the service population (Edison School District) is just 3000, they have a team of twelve, who split their time between MPL and the branch in Berlin Heights.
READ is etched above the transom as you enter the realm of Children’s muted shades and gas globed streetlamps evoking the era of TE’s youth. Iron legged school desks from yesteryear have attached seats that swing out and buckets of crayons to keep tots occupied. Pipe fittings supporting oak planks add innovative exhibitions and a miniature hot air balloon, floating above the six PCs in the middle, sparks the imagination.
Recesses in a brick wall show off ornaments and figurines in the storytime enclosure. Multihued alphabet letter illustrations cover one wall and a colorful quilt with each square painted and signed by a different child encourages literacy. Elevated privacy openings let in natural light and proclaim Learn, Connect, Explore (their web page motto). There’s a projecting smart board, a jigsaw puzzle shaped cart and a sink with cabinets.
Above the youth periodicals, paper patterned in shiny gramophones interspersed with TE’s signatures and light bulbs serves as background for a fascinating assembly of rusty cogs and gears resembling a bicycle but containing a clock. Stylized bulbs in contrasting tones are carved into the smooth wood shelf ends and framed prints of TE’s articles and inventions adorn the walls.
Real brick pillars lead into the Edison Workshop or you can crawl through the archways to play with the toys and cars in this charming spot outfitted with a diminutive wooden range, larder and upholstered distressed leather couch seemingly from bygone days.
There’s a large children’s media selection, attractively arranged…
…and tiny furniture near Legos, oversize Rube Goldberg type play cubes and oak, toddler height, board book cases and bins.
The Edison memorabilia abounds, especially in the local history room downstairs, which Barbara is currently overseeing as they don’t have an archivist now. She pulled on gloves to show me this letter from TE to Miss Louise A. Hawley at the Milan Township Library dated December 12, 1913.
The huge basement also houses two community rooms that can be used when MPL is closed. The one for 33 people has a sleek conference table while the other meeting space holds 167 and an overhead screen setup. Storage for the Friends, a kitchenette, Tech Services, coat racks and an ornate brass and glass display case finish the floor.
There are classes on e-resources and social media and on the website you can browse new acquisitions, read the library newsletter or scan in QR codes to link to their Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts where you’ll find shots from events and promotions for future programs. And, since MPL is part of OH’s famous Clevnet, patrons can download all kinds of emedia and access an enormous variety of databases.
Back upstairs, I wish I could linger in this elevated reading pocket by the little Friends’ book sale then my attention is drawn to the sketch of TE and the quote “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” dominating the teal wall above five adult computers.
A nice assortment of magazines is available near a chess set between two armchairs. I admire the old fashioned fixtures dangling on chains shining soft beams on the adult fiction. A pervading air of relaxation floats through satiny wood furnishings and stacks. Traditional metal lamps and windows in the clerestory provide ample light. Signs by genre lead customers to poetry, religion, mysteries… The décor is cozy and classic – suggestions on shelf ends and a grandfather clock by the elevator.
It’s such a lovely haven for the fortunate folk of Milan!