Archive for May, 2008



May 16, 2008

Originally uploaded by davidking


Here is the parking garage at the Kansas City Public Library. In this case the designers were thinking outside of the box…but definitely inside the book! I don’t think the library board members and I will be taking a field trip here because you can actually get the idea pretty well from the photo; but it would sure be fun to have a conversation about which books would be selected, wouldn’t it? (If you click on the photo, it enlarges and you can see the titles better!)


Book Sculpture

May 16, 2008

Book Sculpture

Originally uploaded by gwENvision

Kansas City Public Library really has some really nifty artistic representations of books. I’m not thinking I’ll move there (it’s way too much fun here), but wouldn’t it be a treat to see this? I wonder if they let you touch it?!


Library board selects architect

May 16, 2008

At the library board meeting on Monday, May 5, 2008, the Dwight Foster Public Library Board of Trustees selected Uihlein Wilson Architects as the architect for the library expansion project.  Three architectural firms were interviewed on April 15, 2008.  The three firms were Engberg Anderson, Inc., Burnidge Cassell Associates, and Uihlein Wilson Architects.  Each firm made an outstanding presentation but Uihlein Wilson was selected based on a variety of factors, including their very detailed responses to questions from the library board.

The library board will take the next step in the process when it approaches the city council at an upcoming meeting for approval to move forward.

Stay tuned for more information…


From the beginning…

May 16, 2008

The library in 1916

Here is a view of the Dwight Foster Public Library (Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin) in 1916.  This photo is taken from East Milwaukee Avenue (approximately where the public parking lot is now).  Notice the front pillars which were moved to Merchants Avenue when the library expanded in 1983.  Preservation of our history has been important during each of our expansions.



Change change and more change

May 16, 2008

Change is inevitable.  As Patty Loveless sings, “Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same.”  Once you become okay with that notion, it’s easier to accept that you must adapt in whatever ways are important to you.

I recently watched a video on the Internet that was thought provoking in terms of the pace of change in the future.  I think it illustrates that we will be well served to be aware of change because it’s happening…whether we want it to or not.  The only thing we really don’t know is how fast the changes will become a part of our lives.

The video can be seen here: Shift Happens.

As we prepare to plan a library for our future, we are well aware that many of our past groundrules have changed.  We will be focused on making this library flexible and adaptable for the future, as well as mindful of the history and beauty that we want to preserve and carry forward into our community’s future.


Why expand the library?

May 16, 2008

We are moving into a very exciting time in the Dwight Foster Public Library’s history. As many of you know, we have been considering an expansion project seriously for approximately 8 years. We’ve done a great deal of work already…including studying the feasibility of expanding this building as well as studying another possible location. The library board of trustees recently made the official decision to stay in the current library building and expand on this site. We will be moving forward with hiring an architect in the next few months. The architect will assist us in designing our expanded facility. So stay tuned for the plans and designs.

Sometimes people ask me why the library needs to expand. That’s a good question so I have done my best to outline some of the reasons an expansion is not only important but vital to our community’s library.

  • The library expanded last in 1983. That building project was sized to take the library twenty years into the future. Those twenty years have passed and the library became full right on schedule.
  • In 1983 the library did not own any computers, videos, DVDs, or compact discs. All of these are now essential library resources and, over the years, have been squeezed into our building which was never designed to house these items, which in turn takes away space for traditional library resources.
  • The library’s materials collection is at capacity for the building size. The shelves are full. In other words, every time we add an item, one has to be discarded.   
  • For a community of our size, the state’s guidelines show that our collection (based on our community service area population) should be approximately 91,777 to be considered excellent. Our collection is at its maximum size at approximately 84,000 and will never get much bigger than this, even though our service population continues to grow.
  • The floor loading limit has been reached in the 1983 expansion portion of the building. Engineers have advised us not to put any more load on the floor.
  • Seating is limited in quantity and variety. We have about half as many seats as we should according to the state guidelines for our community service population.
  • Public computing resources are limited by space and infrastructure.
  • Power and data distribution infrastructure is badly in need of updating.
  • Some aisles and areas do not meet the accessibility requirement in the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Library meeting spaces and their capacities are inadequate to meet the demand by civic organizations, community groups, and the library itself.  Additionally, there is no after-hours availability.
  • Crowded work spaces limit the staff’s ability to work efficiently despite their best efforts. There is not an ADA-accessible pathway anywhere within the general staff workroom.
  • The number of restroom fixtures is entirely inadequate for a building with the occupancy the library regularly experiences.
  • There are no publicly accessible quiet study areas in the library.
  • Collections have been split when they shouldn’t be or moved to completely different locations making them very difficult to find for a majority of patrons.
  • There is only a very small space allocated for young adults in our library, yet a substantial young adult collection exits and the demand for young adult space has been demonstrated.
  • There is almost no space in the library for public information displays.
  • There is very little space in the library for displays related to library programs.
  • Materials are shelved out of reach of many patrons on very high shelves.
  • The grade of the building on the lot makes physical access to the library very difficult for people with mobility challenges and senior citizens.

 Stay tuned as we open this exciting new chapter…


25 years of change

May 16, 2008

Some have asked, “Wasn’t it just recently that the library expanded?”

As a matter of fact it was 25 years ago. I actually remember it clearly. I’m sure others remember it well too. Whether it was watching the front entrance move from one end of the building to the other or seeing the false ceilings come down, it left quite an impression on many of us who were here 25 years ago. (Of course, having to work amid the mess of construction does tend to implant the image in your brain!)

In some ways 1983 does seem like yesterday. (Unless you weren’t born yet, in which case you’ll just have to take a leap of faith on this one.)

But in the world of libraries, the changes that have transpired in the last 25 years have been monumental.

  • In 1983 we didn’t own a video. Videos had just been invented and the war between Beta max and VHS was still on the horizon.   
  • In 1983 we owned just a few books on tape but the earliest versions were the ultimate abridgment of a book, consisting of only one tape, no matter the length of the book. The production was also poor quality by today’s standards. Now we own more than 3,400 audio books in both the tape and the CD format. It is one of our most heavily used collections.
  • In 1983 we didn’t own a single computer. Microsoft Windows was invented two years later, in 1985. Now we own 36 computers, each one taking up its very own space and putting a load on the floor that was never designed for the weight it now carries.
  • In 1983 we owned 50,876 items. Today we own 81,000 items. The library has had a “no growth” practice for adding items since about the year 2000. That’s library lingo for having no more room to add new materials unless something else is moved off the shelf.
  • In 1983 our circulation was 103,911. Last year our circulation was almost 186,000. This translates to an increase of 79% in items being checked out by the community. Remember, the items leaving the building are eventually returned. So actually, to analyze true collection usage, that number needs to be doubled.
  • In 1983 the library reported 35,047 visits by people. Last year we had 181,112 visits. The number of library visits is now more reflective of usage than any other single number. The way people use libraries has changed greatly since the advent of the Internet. These days many people come in to use library resources without ever checking out anything. A 417% increase in the number of people who enter our building is a clear indication of how our community values and utilizes our library.

It would be safe to say the world has changed since 1983. When the architects were planning the building, they sized it to last twenty years. Those twenty years have come and gone and never could they have envisioned the kinds of changes we’ve seen in those years.

We have done our best to adapt to the changes in those years but have come to the place where we realize that we have not only reached our building capacity, but we have also stretched it beyond its original intentions.

While the pace of change has been rapid over these last 25 years (and has felt relentless at times), it has prepared us well for the changes yet to come. More about that in future entries.

(Note this article is adapted and updated from a column that originally appeared in the Daily Jefferson County Union newspaper)

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