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We grew (in more ways than one)!

January 24, 2012

Dwight Foster Public Library annual circulation: 2000-2011

As we reflect on 2011 here at the Dwight Foster Public Library, we can know one thing for sure:  we grew!  We grew both physically and in terms of usage.   Our successful Foster Growth capital campaign allowed us to renovate and expand our library, adding 12,000 square feet to our existing 21,000.  That growth allowed us to grow in terms of service to our community.  More people than ever not only visited our library to see all that had changed, but they also checked out more items than any other year in the previous ten…by a considerable sum.

A library’s circulation numbers don’t tell the whole story because, by definition, a circulation is simply a count of a physical item that has left the building.   It doesn’t measure how many people read a newspaper, came to use a computer, asked a question, made a photocopy or used a meeting room.   It doesn’t even count e-book circulations.  (That’s a topic for another day.)   However, a library circulation, limited measure that it is, is still a very good way to compare a library to itself over time.   I think the chart above shows a remarkable pattern of steadiness and vitality, particularly in light of our world’s increasingly rapid move from the physical to the digital world.

If you want to ponder another measure, here is a chart depicting the number of library visits based on our people counter (purchased in 2010 and located at the front entry).

Dwight Foster Public Library visits - 2011 compared to 2010

All in all, it was a year of enormous change and significant growth for our library.  If you’d like to read more, you can find the full 2011 annual report here.

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The joy of receiving a handwritten thank you!

January 11, 2012

Handwritten note (with name removed & permission for sharing)

Every once in awhile something simple can touch your heart.  This “thank you” letter received in the mail at our library right around Christmas sure did that for me.

It reminded me why I entered this profession all those years ago and have never lost the burning desire to provide the best possible library services to all who enter.   Plain and simple: libraries rock.  (You can read more about the importance of public libraries here…and there…and everywhere.)

But more than that, it underscored for me my burgeoning belief that  in this world of instant communication, nothing has more power than a handwritten letter delivered by the United States Postal Service.    As our world shifts and reshapes itself, I’d like to think that the future generations won’t forget that.

The final “take away” for me in this letter is that no matter how grand the building or how excellent the search engine, it’s still the staff that counts the most.

Kudos to our staff for their tireless commitment to the goal of helping people use this library.   Our project was several years of disruption and displacement.  Through it all, the staff made it their responsibility to deliver excellent library service…one person at a time.

As you can see, it’s appreciated.

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Sandhill cranes added to Batterman Children’s Library entry

January 6, 2012

Jorn Mork's cranes (photo courtesy of Cindy Vergenz)

These cranes, created by Jorn Mork,  are part of the youth department entry art in the Dwight Foster Public Library Batterman Children’s Library that was recently commissioned as a part of our expansion and renovation project.  Stop by and see the detail; they are so beautiful! Look for this inscription:  Sandhill cranes flying, dancing, lifetime mates.  (You can’t see it on the photo.  You’ll have to come look in person.)

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And here it is…our children’s library entryway art by Jorn Mork and Bill Bale

December 28, 2011

(Click on the first photo and it’ll take you to the gallery view where you can see larger views of the photographs.)

We are very grateful to artist Jorn Mork and craftsman Bill Bale for creating and installing such a magnificent work of art for our Batterman Children’s Library entrance.   Come in and see for yourself; the detail is amazing!   And while it’s almost complete, there are still a couple more pieces coming before it’s 100% complete.  I’d like to publicly thank the members of the public art committee:  Ann Engelman (chair), Shelly Fosdal, Karen Gomez, Mary Kay Grunow, and Rachel Nelan.  (Photos courtesy of Ann Engelman)

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Coming soon…an entryway to magic

December 12, 2011

When I was a child, I always felt libraries were magical.  From a working class family, I depended on my public library for my reading and research.   We could not afford many books; but we could afford library cards.  So every week, when I opened the library’s door and inhaled that smell, I felt like I was entering a magical place, a place of refuge and opportunity.   At one point I remember actually looking around for the magic carpet.

A Kindle isn’t a place.  Therefore it doesn’t kindle in me the same sense of inspiration and awe.   Don’t get me wrong,  I think electronic access is important and helpful.  I own an e-reader.  Just try to get my smart phone away from me.  But, at the end of the day, it’s still about the place.

It’s that magical, mystical, beautiful place called the public library.  Where everybody knows your name.  (Well, okay, that might be true in some libraries but not all.  I’m getting carried away.)  This coming weekend, artists Jorn Mork and Bill Bale will be installing our beautiful new youth department entry art for our Batterman Children’s Library.    It is our hope that this piece will inspire in our children and our future children a love for books and learning.  A sense of place.  A memory worth cherishing.

Stay tuned for photos very soon.

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Building and Architectural Items Available for Salvage

October 27, 2011

The city of Fort Atkinson is offering for sale (by sealed bid) salvage items from the parsonage property adjacent to the library at 106 W. Milwaukee Avenue.  The library purchased this property recently and will be razing it in the not-too-distant future to provide more green space for now and other opportunities for library use down the road.

The house has incredible wood doors and trim, beautiful pine and maple flooring, architectural heating grates and other items that may be of interest to people who are interested in preserving and reusing them for their own projects.  The wood used years ago is nothing short of spectacular and definitely worth recycling.

You can see the ad with all the details here.  We have scheduled 2 days for inspection if you would like to see the items in person:  Wednesday, November 2 and Saturday, November 5th.  Both days the house will be open from 1 to 2 p.m.  Appointments for other days and times are also welcome.

Bids are due at 2 p.m. on Monday, November 14th at the Municipal Building.  Please help spread the word to anyone you think might be interested in this unique opportunity for salvaging a variety of building items!

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Magical entry to children’s library

October 25, 2011

As a part of our library project, we had envisioned a very distinct entrance to our Batterman Children’s Library.  We wanted it to be crystal clear where the circulation area ended and the children’s space began.  Our goal was to draw people in and convey, with art, exactly where young people would find a space created just for them.  (After all, many of them can’t read just yet so a sign isn’t necessarily the most effective tool.)Our art committee recently solicited proposals from artists and had seven extremely high quality submissions.    In the end, the committee selected local artist Jorn Mork who submitted a proposal that called for her collaboration with craftsman, Bill Bale, of Sandhill Designs.

The piece calls for some animals made from wood cutouts as well as wood panels with layered oil painting.   Working together, Jorn and Bill are creating that magical entryway we had envisioned.

Here are a couple of photos to give you a glimpse of what’s coming…very soon.

Artist Jorn Mork shows progress on her library panels for children’s entry

Ann Engelman with Bill Bale’s wood cutouts for Jorn Mork’s children’s entry

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