Archive for July, 2009


Giving is as easy as ABC…or is it BGZ?

July 28, 2009

Being a librarian, I’m naturally an ABC kinda gal.  I like alphabetic order.  I like order in general.   Much of life follows a certain order.   A capital campagin certainly does.  First you do your homework.  Then you talk with potential major donors.  Then you turn things over to the community and hope the citizens will respond by giving.

We turned the page on our capital campaign last week, kicking off the public phase of our Foster Growth campaign.  We had great media coverage at the event.  Thank you to James Debilzen of the Daily Jefferson County Union (click on the link to read about it) and Michael Clish of WFAW.   We appreciate the story by Barry Adams in the Wisconsin State Journal too.

So now it’s your turn.  We sincerely (and gratefully) hope you will consider helping Foster Growth in Fort Atkinson.  We’ve been working on ways to make giving as easy as ABC.   Our brochure has a super easy tear-off panel.  Just fill out the form on the back and either attach a check or pledge an amount for future giving.  (We accept pledges over a three year period.)   The brochure (please note: this link takes you to the PDF of the brochure but it does take quite awhile to download) is available on the web site and, of course, inside the library.  Soon we’ll be taking the brochures out into the community and mailing them as well.

You may also donate using your credit card.  Simply go to our library’s web site and click on the Building Project tab.  Click the donate button and you will be taken to the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation’s web site to make your donation to the library fund.

If you’d like to learn more about our project, the plans and the renderings are now on our website.  You can click on the thumbnail images to see each of them enlarged.  If you would like to see the plans in a really large print format, they are available to view in the library.  Come in and see!  Please remember, though, that the plans are not yet finalized so they are still subject to change.

Giving really is as easy as ABC…or, if you look at the image below, you could say it fits neatly under BGZ.    Gee, the alphabet is a versatile and wonderful thing!


Revising the revisions

July 18, 2009

Our architectural design workshops are taking place this summer.  During the workshops, the staff from Uihlein Wilson Architects spends two days asking questions and listening to responses.  Then we review and revise.  And then, of course,  review and revise the revisions. (I think it should be noted that all the people on Uihlein Wilson’s team are really good listeners.)

We’ve had great input from many people.  Thank you to everyone for that.  Folks come and go depending on their interest and expertise.   It has been so rewarding to participate in the process of redesigning a library.  Changes are recommended and then displayed on the screen for all to examine.   It’s helpful to see how the suggestion will look in proper context.  More questions are asked and answered.  Another image is displayed.  The architectural team is very patient and always willing to provide an image, discuss an engineering issue, and, of course, remind us to consider the cost/benefit of every decision.  It’s certainly no easy feat to be able to think so specifically and so globally, all at the same time.

And then the workshop is over.  That’s when we shift back into  homework mode.  (The architects have homework and so do we.  Sometimes questions can’t be answered immediately and more research is assigned.)

Thus the evolving design.  We’ve got more work to do but we are moving toward the end of the design process.  This fall the entire plan is slated to be finalized and approved by various officials.

Architect Mark Paschke, of Uihlein Wilson Architects, kindly provided the rendering below.  This view from the south shows how the new part of the building is being incorporated into the old.

It’s important to note that we are still in design mode and, therefore, this is subject to change.  (I believe any good attorney would advise me to offer that caveat.)   With that said, this is where we are today…

Rendering from the south provided by Uihlein Wilson Architects

Rendering from the south provided by Uihlein Wilson Architects


Planning the library of the future….crystal ball not required

July 17, 2009

When I was a children’s librarian, sometimes around Halloween I dressed as a fortune teller (calling myself Esmerelda) and used a crystal ball to help me “reveal” fortunes to children.

What a fun event for me.  I think the kids enjoyed it too because the surprise on their faces indicated pure delight as the blank fortune-cookie-sized paper magically transformed with words of good fortune…right before their very eyes.  (I can’t tell you how I did it.  You never know when I’ll be asked to resurrect Esmerelda.)

Over the years, I’ve wished that one could actually use a crystal ball to help plan the future.  It would be much easier to just know exactly what new technologies we can expect over the next 20 years.  We’ve had a great deal of change in our world over the last two decades and the pace of innovation doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  Our library facility needs to expertly respond to changes both tomorrow…and for a good long while.  It’s important to take responsibility for proper planning.

I’ve come to realize that planning never really stops.  If you think about it, our planning for this expansion and renovation began as a part of our building project in 1983.  At that time, the architect designed unfinished spaces and called for utilization of them within 20 years.   Perhaps the architects had a crystal ball when they predicted that because they were remarkably accurate in estimating when we would run out of space.

But many things have changed since then.  Materials certainly are getting smaller.  Miniaturization, digitization, and electronic access are not only the trend, they are the future.

So why do we need to expand?

A well written blog post by Jamie LaRue entitled Imagine the post Kindle public library discusses the reasons very succinctly and accurately.  LaRue’s view is that libraries will always need space for children’s collections, technology, meeting rooms,  servers, displays, and librarians…key people in making sense of it all.

I’d also emphasize that libraries have always been about access to content.  The library is able to provide for the many what many would not be able to provide for themselves.   The format is almost beside the point.  It’s about equitable access to content.  Libraries don’t just bridge the digital divide.  They fill it.

Sometimes access involves physical space, sometimes it doesn’t.  But computers take space just as books do.   Tables take space.  Kindles take space.  And so do people.

Our library building and renovation project is built upon a foundation of self-examination.   We have studied carefully our service needs and our building.  We have done that in the context of our community.   I’m pretty sure I know how to use spreadsheet software better than my crystal ball at this point.

We have looked forward as well, factoring in the changes we anticipate and building in flexibility to accommodate the (as yet) unknown.  Our plan allows for growth in certain collection areas but not all of them.  We are not planning for growth,  for example, in the non-fiction or reference book collections.  We have looked at a whole range of needs including meeting room and seating space, better work-flow, easier way finding, greatly improved accessibility, incorporation of technology for both public and staff, and general (and very critical) infrastructure upgrades.   We plan to capture those unfinished spaces and make them functional.

The actual design is being refined and finalized throughout the summer.    I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the plan is progressing.    Based on a solid understanding of our environment, fundamental commitment to the delivery of excellent library services, and the knowledge that operational flexibility is key…we are planning for our future.   As we’ve been working, we’ve taken stock of what we have and all realize how lucky we are.  We’ve got an unbelievable foundation with historic architectural details that are worthy of  preserving and rediscovering.   It is going to be both a beautiful and functional building!

No one really knows where our world will be in even five years.  But I think it’s safe to say that this library will be right here, providing content to our community and fostering personal growth for our citizens in the best way we know how.

We don’t need a crystal ball to see that.

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