Dwight Foster Public Library
2008 Annual Report

Library staff spent 2008 providing community-driven library services, adjusting to the changes brought by the new automation system, and planning for future library expansion. The highlights are outlined below.

Space Needs

The library continues to be very crowded. Staff discarded 1,519 items in 2008 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. Due to lack of space, the Fort Atkinson Community Theater and the Girl Scouts were both asked to vacate their storage areas in the library in 2008. Both groups are in the process of moving.

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 2008, the library board, staff, and community members, with the assistance of library planner George Lawson and Uihlein Wilson Architects, revisited the building program and made necessary reductions in the size and scope of the building project. The work was done in July and the final report was presented in August.

The final plan, a culmination of years of work, represents a careful expansion and renovation concept. It balances the unique and significant facility, workflow and storage needs while recognizing the mission to provide the best possible library service our community can build and sustain. The library board and staff, well aware of the difficult financial times, worked hard to scale the project realistically.

The work of capital campaign, entitled Foster Growth, began in the Fall. The library made a presentation to the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation requesting a lead donation. A gift of $1.5 million dollars was approved by the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation's board of directors.

Technological Advances

In 2008, the staff and the patrons continued to familiarize themselves with the automation system called SHARE (a five county automation consortium sponsored by the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System and the Lakeshores Library System). Various upgrades were completed and efforts were made to improve the existing online catalog (http://www.sharelibraries.info).

The automation system has had a profound effect on all areas of library service, providing our community with speedy access to a catalog that exceeds 2 million items as well as a variety of automated services.

As a result of the SHARE system, the library experienced significant increase in transit traffic (movement of materials from one library to another). Dwight Foster Public Library sent and received a total of over 47,000 items for holds placed in SHARE in 2008. An additional 47,000 items were transited to accommodate patron returns system wide, resulting in a total of over 94,000 transited items in 2008. These items are not included in circulation numbers. They do, however, represent significant work for staff who must prepare and receive the items via the van delivery system.

The implementation of the automation system has necessitated change in a variety of areas, including an adjustment of staff tasks and schedules, a reconfiguration of staff workspaces, and the ability to make different collection development decisions.

The library officially entered the library 2.0 movement as it debuted a blog in 2008. Entitled Foster Growth, it details issues related to the library's building project. The library was honored to have the blog post "Why Expand the Library?" picked up and posted on the Ontario (Canada) Library Board Association's website.

Programs and Services

The library continued its tradition of offering a wide variety of programs in 2008. The summer reading program, "Catch the Reading Bug", was a big hit with the 769 children who joined and the 1,494 kids and adults who participated in all the activities. The ninth annual adult summer reading program involved 84 adults. 53 people reported reading at least 5 books during the summer while 30 readers reported reading at least 10 books throughout the program. The library added a Young Adult summer reading program in 2005. Thirty teens signed up to participate in 2008, 12 teens reported reading more than 10 books.

The monthly brown bag lunch programs also proved popular. Other programs included: monthly Read to Therapy Dogs, regular parochial school visits, 4-K and Head Start story times, weekly public and daycare story times, book babies program, special Saturday youth parties, adult and youth book discussion groups and a monthly Spanish/English story time. In 2008 the library offered another phase of the Wisconsin Humanities Council's "A More Perfect Union" program which focused on domestic tranquility. The library hosted several authors this year including renowned children's author, Barbara Joosse. The library very successfully coordinated a school/library kindergarten round-up to sign-up kids for library cards. Programs offered that were specifically geared to teens included a duct tape craft project, Friday morning book chats in the summer and a Wizard Band rock concert.

In 2008 library staff and Friends of the Library members delivered books and other library materials to 6 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 24 new volunteers, 34 Junior Friends worked a total of 463 volunteer hours for the youth department, including stuffing 250 "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 Police Department (Project REACH), the Fort Atkinson Science Fair, the Hoard Historical Museum, Rotary Club of Fort Atkinson, 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 2008. In addition, the library put together a float for the annual city holiday parade. Staff and volunteers marched in the parade and distributed library book bags and magnets to those in attendance. These partnerships provided mutual benefit and allowed for important services to be provided to the citizens of our community.


The library fund in the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation received a number of donations on behalf of the library in 2008, most earmarked for the building project. A second payment (in the amount of $7,786.85) was received by the library in 2008 finalizing the bequest from Walter Pfefferle. A full listing of donations is available upon request.

Lorine Niedecker

The Friends of Lorine Niedecker, Inc. published issues seven and eight of their newsletter, The Solitary Plover. This newsletter now has a distribution list of approximately 200 addresses. On June 1, the FOLN hosted a successful fundraiser featuring Chicago pianist Jeff Wagner performing several pieces mentioned by Lorine in her writing and the premier production of Milwaukean Rae Brown's play "Renowned." Severe flooding during June/July of 2009 threatened the Niedecker property and resulted in the complete gutting of the cottage. The cabin came through the flood quite well. Due to the historical status of the property, it was not condemned by Jefferson County. Throughout the year the group assisted nine researchers by providing access to the collection and photocopying materials. In summer, the FOLN added four new board members. One of these members coordinated a mailing fundraiser. The board has begun planning for a 2009 Wisconsin Poetry Festival. The library also applied for and was awarded a federal LSTA grant which will fund the digitization of the Niedecker archive at both the library and museum. This digitization project will happen in 2009.

Collection and Use

The library's rich collection of materials numbers over 88,400 items including almost every available format. Over 197,000 items were checked out in 2008. This is an increase of over 6 percent from 2007. The library has certainly witnessed a significant increase in usage similar to many libraries across the United States. The fact that people turn to libraries more during difficult economic times seems clear.

Additionally, the library patron counter reported an increase of 6.5 percent from 2008 with over 192,000 visits made to the library. That translates to 636 visits each day the library was open and reflects an increase of 450% since the 1983 expansion. A complete report on library usage statistics is available for review upon request.

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.

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