Archive for the ‘Library Building Blogs’ Category


The more things change, the more they stay the same

April 17, 2010
I’ve always loved that saying.  Maybe I love it because it’s helped me feel less afraid of the future.  Change can be very scary.   Holding onto memories of the past helps you remember why you are trying that new thing or provides comfort in case of anxiety.   As we worked through the process of designing our library, we had many discussions about how to keep the most beautiful spaces.  We dug through old photo albums to see how things looked years ago, before any of us were born.  When we talked about the area between the 1916 and 1931 structures we realized we had an opportunity to recreate something similar to what there before.  We decided to put doors back in place providing the best opportunity to keep the reading areas in the 1916 library as quiet as possible, creating an area for quiet contemplation.   We’ve planned double doors at all three doorways.  When I was at the library this week, I saw they’d removed my office as well as the entire circulation desk that spanned both rooms.  You can now see exactly where the three sets of double doors will go.   I see this as a  nod to history, a way to highlight a stunning architecture feature, and a practical solution to reducing noise.  Take a look at the photo and imagine how beautiful it will be!

Obviously, there's a reason I'm a librarian and not an architect!


Groundbreaking images

April 8, 2010

Some images from our groundbreaking, courtesy of librarian Paul Nelson. Thank you to Paul Nelson who covered our event in his blog and Ryan Whisner of the Daily Jefferson County Union for the great coverage of our special day.

Remarks from Helen Rose, library board president

It's been a real team effort

The sandbox before the building begins

An empty youth department looks surreal!


Home sweet temporary home

March 15, 2010

Temporary library at the corner of Janesville and Rockwell Avenues

We are now officially closed while we move our library from 102 East Milwaukee Avenue to our temporary library site at the corner of Janesville and Rockwell Avenues in Fort Atkinson.  This will allow our renovation and expansion project to be on a more efficient schedule, saving many dollars in construction as well as providing for far less disruption to library users.  You can read more about it in the Daily Jefferson County Union.  Regional Editor Ryan Whisner wrote a detailed and informative story.   

We appreciate your patience while we do the work to move about 90,000 items, our furniture, equipment, computer network, telephone system, IT infrastructure and every piece of shelving we own.  Our shelving has to be emptied, broken down, moved, reinstalled, and then reloaded with books, magazines, DVDs, and audiobooks.  Moving an entire library is no small task.  The library staff has worked diligently to prepare for our move and will continue to work hard during the transition.   Staffers have donated many hours of volunteer time and worked side-by-side with the best crew of volunteers you can imagine.   Thank you seems inadequate but I’ll say it anyway.   Thank you each and every one of you! 

Several companies deserve special recognition for their generous in-kind donations at the temporary location. 

Mark Haubenschild, of Spacesaver Corporation, arranged for our mobile storage system to be broken down at the library and reinstalled at our temporary site.  We would not be able to fit our collections in our temporary site if it weren’t for our Spacesaver shelving.  (It absolutely works as advertised.  It allows you to maximize your storage capacity.  With such a finite footprint, every foot is critical.)    We are indebted to Mark and Ron Jordan for arranging for John Cuder to do our Spacesaver installation.  John is an expert and very good-natured to boot.  I know about the good-natured part because…well…let’s just say I tested it while deciding on exact location of the rails.  Local merchants Goyer Ace Hardware, Sherwin Williams, and JM Carpets donated paint and carpeting that helped transform the facility.  We’re very grateful for their support of our community’s library! 

While our library is closed, you may return your materials in our new bookdrop at the temporary library site.  The book drop is located in the parking lot behind the building.  You must enter the parking lot on Janesville Avenue.  You may exit at either Janesville Avenue or behind the building at Rockwell Avenue.  We’re converting the back driveway to an “exit only” to accommodate the traffic flow for the bookdrop.  Making the traffic one way behind the building allows for drive-up access to the bookdrop from a vehicle’s driver’s side.  

The front door to the library is under the blue awning.  It’s not quite the same as entering between our library pillars but it is a very identifiable entryway!  The handicapped accessible entry is located at the back of the building.  

I will report on the move during the week.  Check back for more information.


The bids are in…

February 12, 2010

The bids were opened Tuesday.   They were excellent bids, not much difference from top to bottom.   I’m delighted that the bids met our budget expectations. I know a great deal of time and effort was invested by many people to prepare the bids.  Reviewing the plans and bid documents, analyzing the addenda, scrutinizing the project manual, it’s all a great deal of work within a limited time frame.  I’m grateful to everyone who made the effort to bid our project.   Unfortunately, we can only hire one contractor.  But in the hiring of  one contractor we will be building a library…and that will benefit thousands of people for many years.

The renovated and expanded library will be gorgeous and practical, a unique combination of past and future.  Many people have contributed to the planning process and for that I’m grateful.  I believe the best results are a product of many people’s ideas.   That so many would volunteer to help is testimony to the how important…and needed…this library is to our community.

I can’t remember a time when this library wasn’t important to me.

When I was a 13 year old girl and struggling to find a place in the world and reconcile my own sense of self, I needed the Dwight Foster Public Library.   When I was was considering dropping out of college, I needed the Dwight Foster Public Library.  When I was expecting my children, when I thought I had cancer, when I built a porch, when I went through divorce, when I bought my oven…I needed the Dwight Foster Public Library.

Every day I see how much the library is used and appreciated by folks just like me…whether a person is struggling or joyous…or somewhere in between.   That’s all the inspiration I need.  It engenders a great sense of responsibility in me as we stand at the beginning of the chapter that will allow us to grow and improve and ensure that the Dwight Foster Public Library is able to be that very special place it has always been for all who come after.

Twenty years from now, I’m sure there will be a 13 year old girl trying to figure out her place in the world who will seek answers in our library.  Shoot, we don’t have to wait that long; tomorrow we’ll have one walk through the door.


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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