Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Is National Poetry Month!

"Let me surrender with a rhyme
My long and lovely lease of time;
Let me be grateful for the gift
To couple words in lyric lift;
Let me song-build with humble hod,
My last brick dedicate to God. "

--From Rhyme Builder, by Robert Service.

I love the poetry of Robert Service. His story poems are, by poetry standards, pretty macho stuff and sometimes downright politically incorrect. He wrote about war, binge drinking, climbing mountains, hunting, arguments settled with pistols. His poems were lilting, simple and to-the-point, often melodramatic. I spent several weeks of my sixth grade school year lying on my grandmother's floor and reading poems about World War One in Service's Rhymes of a Red Cross Man.

Poetry is that way, though. A sort can be found for all types of people. There is romantic poetry for the lover, funny poetry for the mirthful, sad poetry for emo kids. There are even some poets who specialized in horror writing. Poetry, they say, evokes emotion easier that prose, and I believe it. Anyone who can read "Gunga Din" all the way to the end without choking up just a LITTLE is tougher than I am.

I just recently learned to run circulation reports, meaning that I can see what checks out and what doesn't. It's sad to say, but poetry seems simply to not be very popular anymore. There aren't Robert Frosts or Carl Sandburgs visiting talk shows or doing appearances on BookTV, and poetry has a bit of a bad reputation as being the pursuit of cultural elitists... But poetry isn't completely passe' yet; America still has a poet laureate and newspapers still run poetry contests occasionally. But the light is a bit dimmer than it once was.

So, this month, consider reading or writing some poetry. The Chippewa Falls Public Library has a fine collection of poetry, new and old, and the MORE system has, well...more!

Here are some quick links:

American Poetry, Many Types


Within those two links, one can follow other links all over the face of the subject. Also, be sure to tell a student or teacher about the Library of Congress' Poetry 180 Project. It's an effort to get English students to read a poem per day throughout the school year.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How Much is The Library Worth?

If you use the library, you're getting your money's worth. If you're curious about just how much it's worth, you can find out.

Chippewa Falls Public Library Value Calculator

If you go to the above link, all you have to do is enter how many times in the past week, month or year you did each library-related activity, and you'll see about how much it's really worth to you. The results are based on the approximate market value of each item (book, movie rental, children's theater ticket, etc.)

Take a look. You may be surprised.

AARP: One Month Progress

John Spaeth, area coordinator for AARP's tax assistance program, just popped into my office a second ago and told me in his enthusiastic way that between February 2 and March 6, they processed 204 returns and got the people of this area about $141,000 worth of tax returns.

The AARP volunteers get training to help people find the deductions, exemptions, etc. they may not know about and do their best to help people get them. Mr. Spaeth emphasized that not everyone will get a return--some people DO have to pay--but if a return is due, they try their best to find it.

By the way, the help is free, though they do accept donations from the grateful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

FAQ: Governor's Budget Bill & Libraries

The library staff and I have been getting quite a few questions about what the new budget bill will mean for the Chippewa Falls Public Library. I have been trying to wait a while so that no one could accuse me of being unduly alarmist, but when I was asked this past Saturday by a local gentleman if the budget meant the library's membership in MORE was going to be cut, I told him I doubted it but that everything, frankly, was on the table if things got tight enough.

His advice was to make sure the public was warned and informed so that they weren't caught off guard by any changes.

So, I'll try to answer a few of those Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) here:

If Passed, What Does the New Budget Have in Store For Wisconsin’s Public Libraries?

Not much is known just yet. The budget bill recommends the elimination of maintenance of effort funding requirements for belonging to a library system and a 10% cut to the budget of the Department of Public Instruction, the state agency that oversees public libraries and Badgerlink. The budget bill calls for a 10% cut to Badgerlink as well.

What does “Maintenance of Effort” mean?

Maintenance of effort has been a legal requirement for libraries that belong to a library system. The Chippewa Falls Public Library, for instance, belongs to the Indianhead Federated Library System, which administers MORE. The requirement states that a municipality must fund a library at a level that is at least the average of the past three years.

Theoretically, this keeps libraries from being unduly targeted for cuts during sudden power shifts in local government or economic downturns and ensures that libraries in a consortium all contribute a fair share without relying too much on other communities.

So far, Act 150 requirements have been left intact. Act 150 requires that counties pay municipalities for the library service rendered to those living in areas without libraries at about 70% of the actual value of the transactions. In other words, Act 150 requires that Chippewa County reimburse the City of Chippewa Falls (or Bloomer or Cadott) 70% of what it costs the city to provide library service to someone living somewhere like Jim Falls or Eagle Point.

What Could Cuts Mean For The Chippewa Falls Public Library?

The City of Chippewa Falls values its library and knows library service needs to be maintained. However, if the new budget entails large cuts to municipal aid, then the entire city government will need to spend that much less. Changes to services could be possible, depending on the changes in the budget.

No matter what, we will do our very best to avoid any inconvenient changes to or interruptions in service.

How Much Money Does it Take to Run the Chippewa Falls Public Library?

The library budget for 2011 is just over $1 million. Of that, salaries and benefits make up about 74% of the expenditures. The rest is operational, including purchase of books, CDs, magazine subscriptions, databases, MORE membership, utility bills and building upkeep.

Who Oversees the Library?

The library's daily operation is overseen by me, the library director. As a department of the City of Chippewa Falls, the library has a Board of Trustees made up of seven people appointed by the Mayor. The board oversees and has final say over the usage of the budget and monitors the administrative competence of the director.

Because the library receives a sizable amount its budget from the County of Chippewa, we also have two board members from adjacent communities in the County nominated by the County Board Chairperson who report, as needed, to the County Board.

What Can I Do to Speak Up For My Library?

Communicate with government. Let your state legislators and local representatives at the county and city level know that you care about your library, use it and want it to be a funding priority, even in a lean year.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tax Season in Full Swing

Above you see volunteers from the American Association of Retired Persons helping people with state and federal taxes at the Chippewa Falls Public Library this morning.

These kind folks will be here on pre-scheduled days through April 14th.

Get your schedule HERE.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coming April 12th: The Honey Dewdrops

On Tuesday, April 12th from 6:30-8pm, The Honey Dewdrops, a married musical duo out of Charlottesville, Virginia, will be in the Northwoods to work their magic. They are going to perform right here at the Chippewa Falls Public Library, and we are lucky indeed to have them. Thank you Friends of the Chippewa Falls Public Library for footing the bill!

I know it will make me sound like a musical snob, but I give my testimony that, from the listening I've been doing, these two are the genuine article. It's a mix of clever guitar runs (the work of a Mr. Kagey Parrish), old-school feeling and harmonies led by an insistent and powerful female lead (Laura Wortman). Not to mention the "spell." The music SOUNDS like misty hollows and forested hills.

It's real mountain music, yet modern.

The best part is that there will be no admission charged AND those who show up will have the chance to purchase CDs.

It would be a shame to miss it, really. Spread the word. And if you don't want to take my word for it:

Monday, March 7, 2011

WQOW Visits Local Libraries

The governor's two-year budget could have a big impact on libraries - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Library Survey Results: One Month's Results

It was one month ago that we placed a survey on the homepage and on this blog asking users of the Chippewa Falls Public Library to tell us what they thought of the library.

Here's a quick breakdown of some of the results:


41% were over 55, with those 46-54 years old being the second largest group of respondents, at 19%.


66.7% were female, 33.3% male.


61.9% of respondents live in the City of Chippewa Falls, 34.9% in Chippewa County, outside the city.


Occasionally (less than three times per year)--11.1%

5-10 times per year--25.4%

Once or twice per month--23.8%


More than once per week--17.5%


On a scale from 1 to 5, with "1" being "Not At All" and "5" being "Very," the staff of the Chippewa Falls Public Library scored the following averages:








The public scored our various collections of materials on a scale from 1 to 5, with "1" being "Poor" and "5" being "Excellent." The breakdown:

Adult Fiction--4.07

Adult Non-Fiction--3.98

Young Adult/Teen--3.48



Audiobook/Book on CD--3.91


Layout (Ease of Finding Materials)--3.85




These results are good, I think. They could, of course, be better. But I think the fact that 93.7% of the people who come in say their experience is a positive one is something to be proud of. I thank those who have taken the survey and encourage anyone who hasn't to take it.

And remember: if there's anything about the library you need to make known, email me directly at Your suggestions and complaints are welcome--and awaited.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Community Partnering: Media

Be sure to tune in to 105.7 FM, WCFW to hear the public service announcement that they have worked into their rotation on our behalf. Special thanks to Ms. Pat Bushland of WCFW for her support.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March is Women's History Month!

Reference Librarian Joe Niese reminded me the other day that March is National Women's History Month, a time of year when we remember that for every Lewis and Clark there is a Sacajawea and that for every Joe Hill, there is a Mother Jones.

Below are some links that might help you get to know the history of the American woman a little bit better. Women's history section of the Library of Congress. Information-packed, media-filled and simply excellent. As far as the Internet goes, it's hard to find a better one-stop shop.

Women's History in Wisconsin--packed with information that spider-webs off in many directions. Original documents, full-text books, some of which I have looked at and recommend highly.

New York Public Library's Women's History Page
--Huge, interesting and complete with audio and video. Authoritative and well-organized.

MORE Search--Women's History

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

For Tweens and Teens: Visual Poetry Contest

Do you know a Chippewa County resident in the 6th-12th grades who's interested in photography? During the month of March here at the Chippewa Falls Public Library, we're holding the first annual Visual Poetry Contest. We're looking for original photographic work done during the last two years. Three winners get a free Papa Murphy's Pizza and a certificate, and there will be four honorable mentions, who will all receive ribbons. Tell a teen!


Entry & Release Form