Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Library Business: Win-Win

Traditionally, libraries get busy when the economy stumbles. People start looking for bargains when wallets start getting lighter, and the users of the Chippewa Falls Public Library know that we pack a lot of punch for a great price.

If you do the math, the average resident of Chippewa County pays about $15.00 per year for library service. With that $15.00, he or she gets:

>Internet access
>The newest fiction and non-fiction
>CDs and DVDs
>Civil service information
>Access to educational and enriching children's literature (and toys)
>New and back issues of popular magazines
>Access to the books held in just about any library collection in Wisconsin
>Public programs, such as Summer Reading Club and author visits

I challenge you to find dinner and a movie for one NIGHT for less than $15.00 anywhere these days.

Once again, if you do the math, a weekly user of the library can get hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of education and entertainment back on his $15.00-$20.00 tax investment. Economically, the State of Wisconsin gets about $4.00 back for every one dollar she spends on libraries, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Makes sense to me. I hope you'll think about it now and then...

Support your library, and then USE it. You can't beat the deal.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Community Advisory Board?

I've been learning so much the last two weeks about what people like about the library--the convenience, the speed with which holds arrive, the availability of technology--and making a mental note of what we've doing right so we keep doing it.

I've also been listening closely to what we may have been doing that people weren't crazy about--the slow computers, the noisy environment, the crowded floorplan--and trying to alleviate the problems as I can.

Maybe I need a "Community Advisory Board" to meet now and then and relay what people are saying about the library to us...a sort of semi-permanent focus group to help us get better. We want opinions from across the, women, young, old, girls, boys, blue collar, white collar and so on. We're trying to give this library to the community with both hands, and we'd love to know how we're doing.

If you think this is a good idea,
email me
and let me know. Maybe YOU can be the first volunteer organizer? Help!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Among Friends...

Last night was my first meeting with the Friends of the Chippewa Falls Public Library (see photo above). That's (from left) Carl Miller, Mary Ann King, Jan Joas, Carol Peterson and the big guy is me. We discussed where the group might go in the future and the level of involvement a director might and should have in the regular operations of the group. It's still all open for discussion.

In my experience and estimation, a Friends group has enormous potential to do enormous good, even when the library in question isn't enormous. In a town like Chippewa Falls, there is always the opportunity to tighten and strengthen the bonds which already exist, and a Friends of the Library group can offer not just fund-raising, but FUN-raising opportunities.

Friends groups in some communities have done dog parades, trivia contests, bazaars, motorcycle poker runs, costume contests, etc. The sky is the limit.

So I thank the Friends who are now members and encourage anyone reading this who is NOT a member of the Friends of the Chippewa Falls Public Library to consider joining.

Everyone can have a role to play in the future of the library, after all, and can have a good time doing it. The public library is, truly, ALL YOURS.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Author Visit: Joe Knight

On Wednesday, February 24th, the Chippewa Falls Public Library will have the honor of hosting an author reading by Wisconsin native Joe Knight.

Mr. Knight writes a column for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram and has a long history of engaging in outdoors pursuits; he has been a cross country ski instructor and a U.S. Forest Service worker. On the night he honors us with his presence, Mr. Knight will be discussing his book Frozen assest: reflections on winter in northern Wisconsin.

The event will take place on the second floor at the Chippewa Falls Public Library on 105 W. Central St. Call 715-723-1146.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Youtube!

Five years ago today, Youtube began "broadcasting." Though it took a while to go from an obscure corner of geekdom to household word, Youtube has become an invaluable tool for people seeking to share experiences and knowledge in a more visible manner.

The Chippewa Falls Public Library has plans to do some video outreach, too. Our plan is to find out more about what people feel they need to know--just yesterday I was told that less computer-savvy patrons may need help using the MORE catalog--and figure out a way to present that information in a way that our users can follow at their own pace. What better way than a Youtube video or two?

So remember, when you hear people complaining that Youtube is just a bunch of junk, keep in mind that there are some "diamonds in the dung heap," as Thomas Jefferson might say.

For instance, I personally spent years in the early 1990s looking for actual footage of Rocky Marciano knocking out Jersey Joe Walcott. It took several interlibrary loans being rejected to finally get ahold of the fight film. Now I can just do this:

Thank you, Youtube!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chippewa Falls History: Playing Catch-Up

Early this morning, I stood in the area of Chippewa Falls that long-time residents call "West Hill" and looked down toward the center of town. Snow covered many of the sidewalks and ice was glistening in the branches of the trees in the front yards all along the streets. The cold air seems to sit kind of heavy and muffle sound, so it's very quiet here in the early morning hours as the street lights are still flashing.

As I stood there in the frigid quiet, something in me could feel the history of the town very close at hand. Maybe it's the design of the city or the way historic buildings have been left in peace here (or maybe it's the big, old Victorian house I'm staying in), but I could feel the spirit of the history of this place, even if I have yet to delve too terribly deeply into its substance.

So, in honor of the history of Chippewa Falls and to help those who, like me, don't know enough about it to satisfy themselves, here are some links that might get us all started:

The Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce's History Page

The Chippewa County Genealogy Site, Debra McCann, Site Coordinator--Includes an interesting link to information about "Old Abe" the eagle who accompanied Wisconsin troops during the Civil War, becoming famous among both sides at the siege of Vicksburg.

A History of the Chippewa Falls Public Library

History of the Parks of Chippewa Falls

A History of Chippewa Falls, by the Rotary Club of Chippewa Falls

A History of Leinenkugel Brewery, With Handy Bibliography

The Tribe That Gave the Area Its Name

Wisconsin Historical Society Full-Text Book: History, Tradition and Adventure in the Chippewa Valley

Also, feel free to come by the Chippewa Falls Public Library and see what else we've got in the Wisconsin Studies section. In my office, there are several old, thick volumes that I've been trying to leaf through when I have some time, such as an illustrated history of the Chippewa Valley and several histories of the county, which appear to be very well-written and surprisingly thorough. Come by and see me if you want to take a look at some of these; they aren't in the regular collection because they seem a little old and maybe a bit fragile.