Dwight Foster Public Library
2007 Annual Report
Library staff spent 2007 installing and learning a new automation system as well as providing community-driven library services and planning for future library expansion. The highlights are outlined below.
The library continues to be very crowded. Staff discarded 1,398 items in 2007 to make room for newly purchased items. All collections are at their maximum capacity and the library staff continues to be challenged to fit the needed services into the current space. The library did receive a generous donation of metal shelving from Spacesaver Corporation in 2007 which was installed in the library basement in December and will allow for additional storage of materials. A full analysis of the library's space conditions was made in 2002 by space needs consultant, George Lawson. His report is available for review upon request.
To further explore our library space options, the library conducted a space needs feasibility study in 2002 and then formulated a formal building program in 2005. Those documents are available for review upon request.
In 2007, the library board explored, in depth, the possibility of moving to another location. Two studies were initiated and completed. The first study examined the appropriateness of an alternate building for the library's program needs. The second study examined all costs, comparing various options. After the work was completed, the library board of trustees made the decision to stay at the current site. Those studies are available for review upon request.
On Thursday, January 11, 2007, the library opened (after several days of being closed) with a new automation system in place. The new consortium named "SHARE" was several years in the planning stages. SHARE is a large entity, comprised of all the public libraries (and two school libraries) in five counties. The project was large in scope and the resulting database contains over 2 million items. Libraries share costs, patrons, and materials. Patrons receive online access to a deep and rich collection and are able to use their library card in any library within the 5 county area without having to re-register.
Items are shared among the partnering libraries via a daily van delivery service received from the library system. This capability generally significantly increased the speed with which we were able to fill requests for our patrons and gave us direct access to many items which we do not own in Fort Atkinson. It was a practical way to expand our library resources without adding physical space.
In 2007, the staff and the patrons familiarized themselves with the new automation system. A project of this magnitude often has hitches; this one was no exception. Many hours of staff time were spent training, learning, teaching, and then incorporating changes into workflow throughout the first half of 2007. Adjustments to circulation policies, loan periods, and procedures needed to be made to accommodate the greater good, which is often necessary in a consortium environment. Additionally, the staff found the software lacking in power, speed and flexibility compared to the old system. As the learning curve flattened, internal expectations were adjusted and the overall advantages of sharing costs, and having such ready access to our neighboring libraries was enough to consider the project worthwhile. It should be noted, however, that the library staff has already begun working toward better next generation software, including advocating for implementation of "open source."
In addition to its traditional Internet access for the public, the library has also been offering wireless Internet access. This service has been extremely well received and is used daily by the public.
Programs and Services
The library continued its tradition of offering a wide variety of programs in 2007. The summer reading program, "Get a Clue @ Your Library", was a big hit with the 804 children who participated and the 2,946 kids and adults who participated in all the activities. The eighth annual adult summer reading program involved 109 adults. Seventy-four people reported reading at least 5 books during the summer while forty-eight readers reported reading at least 10 books throughout the program. The library added a Young Adult summer reading program in 2005. Twenty-seven teens signed up to participate in 2007, 10 teens reported reading more than 10 books.
The monthly brown bag lunch programs also proved popular. Other programs included: monthly Read to Therapy Dogs, parochial school visits and Head Start story times, weekly public and daycare story times, book babies program, special Saturday youth parties, adult and youth book discussion groups including Jefferson County Reads and a monthly Spanish/English story time. In 2007 the library offered another phase of the Wisconsin Humanities Council's "A More Perfect Union" program which focused on the establishment of justice. In addition we hosted a community poetry reading and an Earth Day Environmental Fair. The library hosted several authors this year including poet Tom Montag, editor Harriet Brown and children's authors, Hannah Heidi Levy and Bill Jamerson. The library also held several programs for grandparents and increased the juvenile Spanish collection with grant funding in 2007. The library very successfully coordinated a school/library kindergarten round-up to sign-up kids for library cards. Two programs were offered that were specifically geared to students in middle school: a geocaching treasure hunt and a murder mystery dance party.
In 2007 library staff and Friends of the Library members delivered books and other library materials to 7 individuals on a regular basis through the library's home delivery service.
The Friends of the Library, a group of individuals, local businesses and organizations, exists to provide financial and volunteer support to the Library. This organization makes it possible to provide programs and services that the library would not ordinarily be able to provide. The youth arm of the Friends organization, the Junior Friends, trained fourteen new volunteers, twenty-three Junior Friends worked a total of 299.25 volunteer hours for the youth department, including stuffing 400 "library bags for newborns" to be distributed at the Fort Atkinson Memorial Hospital.
The library also partnered with a number of community organizations including the Jefferson County Literacy Council, the Fort Atkinson Science Fair, the Hoard Historical Museum, Rotary Club of Fort Atkinson, Fort Optimists Club, Fort Junior Woman's Club, Relay for Life, Fort Atkinson Community Coalition, Opportunities, Inc., Fort Atkinson School District, Children's Share and Care Fair Committee and Head Start throughout 2007. In addition, the library put together a float for the annual Holiday Parade. Staff and Friends marched in the parade and distributed 2008 pocket calendars and library book bags to those in attendance. These partnerships provided mutual benefit and allowed for important services to be provided to the citizens of our community.
In 2007, the library completed a project to digitize significant local history. This project, funded with federal grant money from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) enabled the library to digitize an early plat map, 3 early city directories, the Daily Union history compilation titled "Happy 150th Birthday, Fort Atkinson", the architectural history from the Jefferson County Planning Dept. "How Will We Know It's Us Without Our Past", Vol. 2 of "Jefferson County, Wisconsin and It's People: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement", and the Jane Shaw Knox biography of Lorine Niedecker. In addition to these texts, a collection of approximately 100 photographs from the Hoard Museum of the history of Main Street were digitized. These materials are all now available on the Web site of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. The library and museum received CD copies of the digitized materials.
The library fund in the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation received a number of donations on behalf of the library in 2007
A memorial bequest in the amount of $15,000 was received by the library's trust fund from the estate of Walter Pfefferle; other gifts from generous citizens and organizations were also received in 2007. A full listing of donations is available upon request.
The Friends of Lorine Niedecker, Inc. published issues five and six of their newsletter, The Solitary Plover. This newsletter now has a distribution list of approximately 200 addresses. Ann Engelman contacted the current owners of the former Niedecker property this spring and obtained their consent to oversee repair and restoration work on the property. The cabin was scraped and painted, windows were repaired and new screens built, trees and brush were cleared, a new roof was put on and the beloved pump was painted. In September work on the cottage near the river was started. It was painted, the screened porch repaired and re-roofed, the deck scrubbed and stained, and interior repairs were made. In October the University of California Press offered The Collected Works by Jenny Penberthy for the sale price of $10. A quick fundraising effort allowed the FOLN to purchase 70 copies of this book for distribution to schools in Wisconsin. Other FOLN activities include: poetry reading lead by Tom Montag at Café Carpe in April, assisted research request from Mary Pinard, Babson College, Jane Shaw Knox biography digitized and posted to Web, Niedecker Exhibit traveled to Door County, Niedecker archive items entered into database, printed 4,000 book marks for distribution to book stores and appropriate venues.
Collection and Use
The library's rich collection of materials numbers over 83,700 items including almost every available format. Almost 186,000 items were checked out in 2007. This is a decrease from 2006. The fact that the library lengthened its loan periods in late 2006 seems a probable explanation for the dip in circulation as well as the fact that the library was closed a few days for the automation project.
A complete report on library usage statistics is available for review upon request.
The library's number of registered patrons was 22,745 at the end of the year. The Dwight Foster Public Library registered 1,185 new library patrons in 2006.
The library is a vast resource for our community. Each and every day, the staff works hard to ensure that we stay focused on our library's vision. Adopted in our most recent strategic plan, here is that vision that carries us forward:
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.
As we make a difference for our community, day by day, person by person, we remember the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes..."One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."