Archive for the ‘Library Capital Campaign’ Category


Last call for the wall

September 12, 2010

There are obvious signs this building project is marching toward completion.   For one thing, the terra cotta has been reinstalled.  For another, the windows are in.   We are now talking furniture and landscaping and bike racks.

And having detailed discussions about the design and layout of the donor wall.

I know there may be people who are thinking they want to donate to the library’s Foster Growth capital campaign but will do so…later.   I can relate;  that procrastination thing happens to me a lot.  Therefore I wanted to be sure to let folks know that we are in the beginning stage of creating our donor wall.  We have set a November 15th deadline for having a name listed on the wall.  Mind you we will never not accept a donation.  (And donations are still needed and appreciated no matter when they happen.)   But there will be a time when it will be too late for a name to be incorporated into the library’s beautiful donor recognition piece.  All gifts of $500 or more will be named on our capital campaign donor wall.  

It’s easy to donate.  Simply click here (select the library fund) and pay by credit card!   Or mail us a check.  Or stop by and fill out a pledge card.   We’re flexible.  (But our deadline’s not.)


Let me be perfectly clear…

October 29, 2009

In September, I sent an email to library staff members with the following subject line:  Thank you but…no more donations.

It wasn’t more than a few minutes and someone said to me, “Wow, the fundraising is over?”

What?  “Where in the world did you get that idea?”

“From your email,” was the reply.  “I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but your subject line indicated we don’t need any more donations.”

Oh my!  That’s not what I meant to say at all!

Here we are in the middle of a capital campaign, trying to raise a large amount of money for our library expansion and renovation project and I was sending an email with the headline announcing we didn’t want any more donations.  What in the world was I thinking?

Well, I wasn’t thinking of course.

We DO want donations.  We need donations.  We can’t do this project without donations.

This was a glaring example of the need to write a better headline.  (It’s also an example of the need to read beyond the headlines if there ever was one.)  Staff needed to read the entire email.   In the body of the email  I was alerting them to the fact that we need to officially stop taking gifts of books and magazines.  People have always been very generous and regularly bring us bags and boxes full of books, DVDs, videos, music CDs, and magazines.   Occasionally we put items in our library’s collection; usually our Friends of the Library takes the items and sells them in our book sales.  Either way the library benefits.   We’ve always greatly appreciated the donations.

However, we are now in the position of cleaning house in preparation for our building project.  We cannot pay to move and store used books so we must make sure they are all out of the facility before Spring.  We will be having increasingly aggressively priced  book sales leading up to our move.  But we do need to call a moratorium on accepting additional materials at this time so we can cope with what we have.  At this time we need to say thank you, but no thank you, to donations of physical items.  So let me be clear.  The moratorium is on the donations of materials.  We don’t have a similar problem with monetary donations.  The Fort Atkinson Community Foundation has plenty of storage capacity for donations to our library fund!  (Did you ever notice how little space money actually requires?)

Anyway, that’s what I meant to say.

I guess it’s good that I had such a wildly inappropriate subject line for my staff email.  It taught me to pay more attention when writing future communications.  Notice the headline of this post has been more carefully crafted; it’s nice and vague.

In life, often times we aren’t lucky enough to get a do-over.   The pink pearl eraser simply doesn’t fix it.  In that case, what you can do is analyze just where you went wrong.   That way you can make a different mistake next time!


A “salt of the earth” business proves it

October 4, 2009

Vince Kent of Abendroth Water Conditioning is the chair of the business division for our Foster Growth capital campaign.  He’s a “salt of the earth”  kind of guy (in more ways than one) and we were delighted when he agreed to step up to the plate and join our campaign.  He’s been instrumental in asking businesses throughout our community to support our fundraising effort.   He’s got great ideas, including one he’s using in his own business.  He’s donating a portion of all the water softener salt sales of his business throughout our building project.     We are so very grateful for his generosity with his time and expertise as well as his financial commitment to our library.

If you’d like to help our library, please consider buying your salt from Abendroth Water Conditioning.    If you’re a business, don’t hesitate to contact Vince to discuss innovative ways you too can help.  We’d sure appreciate your support.  All donations of $500 or more receive a place on our donor wall…which will provide long-lasting recognition for your business, your family, or yourself.

We have some great Foster Growth T-shirts and hoodies for sale at the library and the farmer’s market.  But maybe we should think about adding a few of these to our line!  (Not exactly the right type of salt, but definitely the right idea!)


The importance of early donations

September 14, 2009

In a capital campaign, the early stage of fundraising is extremely important.   That’s when you ask potential donors to commit to your project.  If you are successful securing initial gifts and pledges, you can move forward with your project.  If you are not, you obviously need to stop and reassess.

We were very fortunate to receive important commitments over the last year, especially given the tumultuous economic climate.  Having that support allowed us to move into the public phase  of our capital campaign this summer.    I’d like to take a moment to thank the people, companies, and organizations who said “yes” early on.  Those who shared our vision and agreed to help may not know just how important they were.  But they were; they were key to our ability to progress with our plans.

I think the remarks from our city manager, John Wilmet, at our library’s kickoff event were excellent and should be shared to give proper credit to those who believed in our project.  We have been blessed with additional important donations since then.  We’ll list those in future blog posts.  But today I’ll share with you the listing of the first donations we received by way of John Wilmet’s remarks at the Foster Growth capital campaign kickoff:

I have the honor of announcing and presenting the major gifts that have been secured for the capital campaign.  This project is certainly an example of public/private partnership of which we can all be proud.  The city of Fort Atkinson values its library.   We understand that everyone plays a role in its ability to be the best possible library for our community.  After all, it is not up to someone else.  It is our responsibility.  When shared, the dream can become a reality.  We would like to sincerely thank those who responded to our request for donations in the early phase of this capital campaign.  Because you committed to our project early on, we were able to move forward with confidence during a time when the economic climate indicated it might be best not to.  There were many reasons to continue on in our planning not the least of which is that the library facility absolutely needs upgrading and expansion. Additionally, the building climate is competitive and library use is soaring.  We’ve planned the timing on our debt carefully and staying the course with our city’s capital improvement plan provides stability over the course of time which is always important to taxpayers and vital to our financial health.

The lead gift from the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation in the amount of $1.5 million dollars amounts to half of our fundraising goal of $3.0 million.  I think, on behalf of the citizens of Fort Atkinson, it is safe to say that your investment in our library will pay dividends well into the future.   As the city manager, I believe that the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation’s unwavering support of this (and many projects) does make all the difference in the world and really allows this community to thrive.  Thank you.

A gift of $350,000 has also been secured with the donor wishing to remain anonymous.  This gift, an incredible example of generosity, speaks to us all because it makes a difference for our citizens, one by year, year by year.  We are honored and appreciative to be the recipient of such philanthropy.  Deepest thanks for that.

Philip Jones, of Jones Dairy Farm, was unable to be with us today.  He asked that we read the following:

“Both the Jones Dairy Farm and the Jones family have a long tradition of supporting important community projects.  The library expansion and renovation project is probably the best example I can think of in terms of impact. All of our citizens benefit from a library that is healthy and vibrant.  The businesses benefit too because we see the improvement in the lives of our employees as a result of access to the world of information.  Local tourism benefits because it is yet another place for travelers to explore.  Our community benefits because there is a demonstrated return on investment as a result of a library in a community.  The facility, while not the only factor in providing excellent library services, is a key component.

It’s always been important to Jones Dairy Farm to be an active participant in helping our community, fostering growth at opportune times.  Libraries are more important now than ever.  We are proud to be an early donor to the library’s capital campaign.”

We thank Philip Jones, the entire Jones family, and Jones Dairy Farm for their generosity and consistent commitment to Fort Atkinson.  They have secured the naming rights to the adult collections.

A gift of $150,000 from the Fort Community Credit Union allowed the Credit Union to secure naming rights for the community meeting room.  We couldn’t be more grateful to the Credit Union for agreeing to fund the much needed expanded space for our citizens to gather and meet.  With after-hours accessibility, we know this will be enormously beneficial to our citizens.  This generous gift was especially appreciated because it was given in the early stages of our campaign and allowed us to continue planning our design with confidence that we were able to meet our early financial obligations.  The Fort Community Credit Union has demonstrated the spirit behind the word “community” in their name.  Thank you.

I’m delighted to report a gift of $150,000 from PremierBank.  PremierBank has secured the naming rights to what we are calling our premier entrance.  As we’ve just finished another round of design work, I can tell you that we are putting significant thought and effort into the design of our entry and checkout area.  At the moment, the plan calls for the staircase to be placed adjacent to the existing historic bow window in the 1931 section of the building.  Allowing people to walk next to it, see it, and touch it is one way that we are attempting to rediscover the parts of the library that have been covered in over time.  It is one of the reasons this library will be considered even more of an architectural gem at the end of the project.  Thank you to PremierBank for demonstrating that you are interested in helping us be a premier library.  Your commitment to our project is applauded and appreciated.

The Highsmith Family secured the naming rights to the Young Adult Library.  The library has never before had an area dedicated to the young adults in our community.  A space for them is considered very important in a modern-day library and we are proud to be able to allocate space specifically for this age group.  As teens move into adulthood, it is important to respond to their unique needs in an effort to reach them and teach them.  The Highsmith family understands libraries and their responsibilities to their communities.   We are grateful that they have committed to provide such generous financial support which allows us to deliver on this responsibility for the first time in our history.

Finally, we have received the following major donations that I’d like to announce:

The Spacesaver Corporation has committed to making a substantial in-kind donation for shelving.  As the home of the Spacesaver Corporation we are so appreciative that they continue to support our community.  The gift of past mobile shelving as well as fixed shelving units, the generosity of the company has allowed our library to be enormously efficient.  Since efficiencies are important to this project, we couldn’t be more appreciative.  Your corporate citizenship is to be applauded.

Naming rights to two study rooms have been secured.  The Negus family is generously sponsoring one and the Rotary Club of Fort Atkinson the other.  Because one of the areas of need in our community is for small group study rooms we have considered these a high priority in our design.  Allowing tutoring and small group studying to take place in a room that is sized for the group is not only an efficient use of space, it is much more desirable for the people.  Thank you to the Negus family and the Rotary Club for your gifts to help the education of our citizens, helping them to help each other.

We do have a few more naming opportunities available.  I use the word “opportunity” because this is, indeed, an opportunity.  The chance to make a gift to our community through our improved library will not come along again…at least probably not in my lifetime.  Please contact either Connie Meyer or me if you’d like to discuss securing a naming opportunity.

Those mentioned today are surely deserving of thanks from us all.  It is through their willingness to give to others that we are able to move forward in creating a library that will serve our community in the best possible way for many years to come.

I was informed yesterday that we’ve surpassed the $1 million dollars pledged of our $1.5 million campaign. While it might seem that we are home free and don’t need you, I can assure you that we do.  Five hundred thousand dollars is a great deal of money.  We have a lot of work to do to fundraise that many dollars.  Thank you for your help and support.


Cents and sensibility

September 10, 2009

Just the other day I read an article in Kiplinger’s entitled Fabulous freebies. The list of fabulous freebies includes “free movies and books from the public library. ” It’s number 15, among some other good ideas.  There have been many similar articles citing the library as an excellent choice if you are interested in saving money and still having incredible access to resources.  It just makes “cents.”

That reminded me that even though the timing on our capital campaign might not be the best in the world, the timing on our relevance to our community couldn’t be better.   The library board discussed that very thing as we were deciding whether or not we should head into the fundraising phase of our project just as the stock market plummeted last  Fall.  How could we ask people to be generous and philanthropic now?  But then again, how could we not when our usage is soaring and continues to demonstrate our importance to our citizens?  Also, wasn’t there opportunity in moving forward with a construction project at a time when prices had either stabilized or dropped on building materials?  And what about the fact that the project would employ people in a vast array of construction trades during a time where companies are looking for work as opposed to too busy to bid on the project?

Most things in life have both opportunities and threats, pros and cons, good and bad.   I’ve always believed the “double edged sword” is worth acknowledging and understanding.  Delving deeper generally allows you to find a place of balance…and likely your best solution.

Every day I see people using the library to research, study, examine, explore.  Whether they are looking up the review in Consumer Reports or studying alternative investments, people use resources to help them make good decisions and, ultimately, to make sense of their world.  We are honored to help in the process.

This actually reminds me of our library’s vision statement:

The Dwight Foster Public Library seeks to ignite the quest for knowledge and understanding and provide the necessary resources for life’s journey for each member of our community.  Our facility, programs, and collections must be the anchor of our community, as we strive to preserve the record of history, inspire discovery, and make accessible the vast body of information so that all can learn, share, grow, and contribute.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me longer than it should have to cite our library’s vision statement in this blog.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it every day.  It’s the driving force behind all we do and the reason we have moved forward with fostering growth in Fort Atkinson.

So libraries really are about cents…and sensibility.  (My apologies to Jane Austen; I just couldn’t resist.)


Things are cooking at our library

September 4, 2009

Things are cooking with the library expansion and renovation project in more ways than one!  We had another round of design workshops this week and made some really smart changes to the plan.  I’ll post the updated plans and renderings when I have them.

The fundraising is moving along on schedule thanks to the incredible generosity of people of the Fort Atkinson area and beyond.

Also, the long awaited, much heralded library cookbook, compiled by the staff, board members, and folks from the Friends of the Library, is hot off the press and now available for purchase.  It’s a compilation of the recipes from nine years of annual cookbook pamphlets as well as a few recipes from the cookbooks of the early 1980s and also includes some brand new recipes added as a bonus.   Tried and true recipes, this cookbook will be the one you turn to first!  It has an index in the back making it easy to find the perfect recipe for any occasion.  Priced at just $10 with the profit going to the library’s building fund, we hope that you’ll want to buy multiple copies and give them as gifts to all the cooks on your list.cookbook

The order form is available on our website for those of you who don’t live nearby.

You might want to know that our library system’s materials transit van delivery driver has actually told us that our library has difficult and problematic accessibility, the worst of all the libraries he visits…but that our delectable treats make up for it.  (Okay, he didn’t use the word delectable, but I’m sure it’s what he meant.)

Many of the recipes are in this very cookbook…tried and true.  Just ask the van guy.


Eat and grow (oh wait, I mean…help *us* grow)

August 14, 2009

Two great eating opportunities await area folks this weekend. The proceeds from each event will support our Foster Growth capital campaign.

On Saturday, August 15th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. a brat fry will take place at the Pick ‘n Save on Madison Avenue in Fort Atkinson.  Buy a brat and help support our fundraising efforts. 

On Sunday, August 16, 2009 from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. the Fort Atkinson Lions Club will be hosting their 47th annual corn and chicken feed.  We are very grateful to the Lion’s Club for making the decision to earmark the proceeds from this event to the library expansion and renovation project and encourage everyone to get to Jones Park to eat.  (Carryouts are also available.)  Why not buy a ticket for everyone?

Dont forget to buy a ticket for Fluffy!

Even Fluffy loves corn on the cob!


Measuring the growth

August 6, 2009
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!

How progress toward our $3 million fundraising goal is stacking up


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!


A special legacy of Hugh Highsmith

June 19, 2009

Hugh Highsmith passed away on June 7, 2009 at the age of 94.   Even though Mr. Highsmith lived a long and fruitful life, it is still hard to say goodbye.

Mr. Highsmith personally touched many by providing employment to hundreds of people at his library supply company in Fort Atkinson for over 50 years.  I have heard employees remark about Hugh’s obvious interest in them as people.  Quite simply, he cared about the well-being of his employees.

Mr. Highsmith, a truly philanthropic gentleman, contributed financially to projects of all kinds, including our own library and The Hoard Museum.  He did so at key times, for example, when the library project relied on a gift in the early stages of our expansion in 1983.  He contributed to the county by acquiring and donating the land for the Jefferson County Indian Mounds Park.   He was quiet, humble, and so giving.

He gave…so that others could enjoy and grow.

At his memorial service, I could tell by the comment from grandson, Cyrus, that he fostered growth in his family too.   When Cyrus Highsmith, an artist,  spoke of the voice he hears inside his head and how he came to identify that as Hugh’s, I couldn’t help but feel an incredible admiration.  To leave a gift like that for his grandson is a remarkable thing indeed.

Son Tod spoke about his connection with the land that was fostered from his early childhood exploration of the family’s beautiful property.   He recognized his father’s role in nurturing his lifelong love of the earth.

Son Duncan shared his sense of deep gratitude to be able to work with Hugh, side-by-side, for so many years until he’d learned enough to take over as CEO/President.

At the memorial service, it certainly clicked for me.  I understood that the similar refrain in all the stories was the way Hugh Highsmith fostered growth in everything and everyone he touched.  As I pondered that thought, I realized how fitting it was that he and his wife Fanny were selected as the honorary chairs of our “Foster Growth” capital campaign last year.

Foster growth.  Mr. Highsmith demonstrated they aren’t just words in a capital campaign slogan.  When you live it, you leave quite a legacy indeed.

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