Dwight Foster Public Library 2009 Annual Report

Library staff spent 2009 providing community-driven library services and planning for the library expansion and renovation project. The highlights are outlined below.

Expansion and Renovation Project

The final library design, 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 staff and library board and building committee members spent a great deal of time finalizing the architectural plan in 2009. Through a series of workshops, the architects developed the design with feedback and insight in a process that was driven by the program needs of the library and which included a cost model that was adjusted as decisions were made. The construction documents were finalized near the end of 2009 and the project was released for bids on January 12, 2010.

The work of capital campaign, entitled Foster Growth, took place throughout 2009 on a timetable parallel to the project. During a very difficult economic climate, the capital campaign committee worked diligently to secure the early donations knowing that having key major gifts committed was vital to moving forward with the public fundraising phase of the capital campaign. That portion of the campaign met its goals and a public kickoff event was held on July 23rd.

By the end of 2009, the campaign had raised $1.5 million in gifts and pledges. This allowed the library's project to qualify for a matching gift from the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation. Because the full cost of the project is not yet finalized and additional gap financing costs are anticipated, the fundraising will continue until all project goals are met.

In 2009, the decision was made to relocate the library during the construction period allowing for a faster and safer project as well as to provide for as little disruption to library services as possible. A number of possible temporary facilities were examined in 2009 and the recommendation to use the Nasco-owned former DigiStar building was made. The city council approved the arrangement and the library is making plans to relocate its entire operation to 790 Rockwell Avenue in March of 2010.

The Fort Atkinson Community Theater and the Girl Scouts vacated the library building in early 2009 as requested. The additional space freed up an area where the Friends of the Library could expand its book sale area in a concerted effort to downsize in preparation for the move. A final book sale was held on January 16, 2010.

In 2009, a great deal of effort was made to analyze the collection in terms of the physical space needed both for the temporary facility and the expanded and renovated library. The library's videocassette collection was determined to have reached its end of life and the decision was made not to move it to the temporary facility.


The library officially continued with its social networking presence with its Foster Growth building blog as well as unveiling a new blog entitled: Sharing our views. On the new blog, library staff (and guest contributors) post reviews of books, music, movies, web sites and more. Additionally, the library's web site was redesigned. The new website is database driven and provides many more opportunities for interactive features. Near the end of 2009, the library began using Twitter to publicize library-related announcements.

In an effort to maximize resources, a trial client/server computer infrastructure was put into place in late 2009. The product purchased, named Ncomputing, will afford the library the ability to stretch its hardware dollars in the future because it allows multiple people to simultaneously share a single computer's processor. Finally, the library received a donation of funds with which to purchase a Kindle (electronic reading device). Staff members are familiarizing themselves with it and the library will soon make it available to citizens.

Programs and Services

The library continued its tradition of offering a wide variety of programs in 2009. The summer reading program, "Be Creative @ Your Library", was a big hit with the 817 children who joined and the 1,194 kids and adults who participated in all the activities. The tenth annual adult summer reading program involved a record 255 adults. Of those, 136 reported reading at least 5 books during the summer while 78 readers reported reading at least 10 books throughout the program. The library added a Young Adult summer reading program in 2005. 43 teens signed up to participate in 2009, 21 teens reported reading 5 books and 16 of them read 10 or more.

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, baby and toddler time programs, special Saturday youth parties, mother and daughter book discussion groups and monthly Junior Friends training sessions. In 2009 the library offered a special winter book discussion for adults on the theme "Wisconsin: Calling It Home." The library received funding from the Wisconsin Humanities Council for this book discussion program. The library successfully coordinated a school/library kindergarten round-up to sign-up kids for library cards.

The library provided job hunting assistance by offering a series of classes for job-seekers as well as individual assistance by appointment. A laptop was donated by the Friends of the Library so that those people who were looking for jobs, applying for schools, or taking tests might have access to the library's wireless Internet for an extended period of time.

In 2009 library staff and Friends of the Library members delivered books and other library materials to 2 individuals on a regular basis through the library's home delivery service. The monthly brown bag lunch programs hosted by the Friends of the library have seen continually decreasing attendance. As a result, the Friends voted in December to end this program.

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. In 2009, the Friends of the Library published a cookbook. Benefits from the sale of that cookbook are being donated to the library's capital campaign. The Friends of the library worked very hard on booksales throughout the year to assist with the aggressive need to discard items not needed at the temporary location. The youth arm of the Friends organization, the Junior Friends, trained 18 new volunteers, 35 Junior Friends worked a total of 281 volunteer hours for the youth department, including stuffing 500 "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 Junior Woman's Club, Relay for Life, Fort Atkinson Community Coalition, Opportunities, Inc., Fort Atkinson Kennel Club, Fort Atkinson School District, Children's Share and Care Fair Committee and Head Start throughout 2009. In addition, the library staff entered the United Way chili cook-off. These partnerships provided mutual benefit and allowed for important services to be provided to the citizens of our community.

Lorine Niedecker

The Friends of Lorine Niedecker received a grant in 2009 to digitize the Niedecker archive materials that belong to both the library and the Hoard Museum. This project was completed in December. In April, the Friends received a grant from the Fort Community Foundation and a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board to paint lines from one of Lorine's poems on the wall at the corner of Sherman Avenue and Main Street. The poetry wall was completed in July. In October, the Friends hosted the first Lorine Niedecker Wisconsin Poetry Festival. Approximately 135 individuals from around the country attended the festival which featured workshops, poetry readings and tours of Niedecker landmarks. In early December, the Friends were notified that they would be a recipient of a $5000 grant from the Poetry Foundation in 2010.

Collection and Library Usage

The library's rich collection of materials numbers over 86,000 items including almost every available format. Approximately 208,000 items were checked out in 2009. This is an increase of more than 5 percent from 2008 and almost 12 percent from 2007. Managing service for that level of increased demand is an operational challenge. The employees and volunteers who diligently do the work of our library deserve recognition and thanks for their dedication and service.

The library is a rich resource for our community. The past year demonstrated the invaluable support of the people who donated their dollars as well as their time and expertise. Many people contributed in many ways and the library is deeply indebted to all those who assisted in some manner to allow the library to continue with its goal of fostering growth in Fort Atkinson.

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