Jefferson County Plan for Library Services 2008-2012


Wisconsin's Legislature, through its debate and eventual adoption of what became Chapter 43 of Wisconsin Statutes, established a governmental policy toward public libraries. Because Chapter 43 outlines certain responsibilities for counties, it is important to summarize what that policy is:

The importance of free access for all Wisconsin's residents to knowledge, information, and diversity of ideas;

The critical role played by public, school, special, and academic libraries in providing that access;

The major educational, cultural, and economic asset that is represented in the collective knowledge and information resources at the libraries in Wisconsin;

The importance of public libraries to the democratic process; and

That the most effective use of Wisconsin's library resources can occur only through interlibrary cooperation among all types of libraries and with the effective use of technology.

County Profile

Jefferson County is located in Wisconsin's southeastern quarter, with an area of 557 square miles. The towns of Aztalan, Cold Spring, Concord, Farmington, Hebron, Ixonia, Jefferson, Koshkonong, Lake Mills, Milford, Oakland, Palmyra, Sullivan, Sumner, Waterloo and Watertown; the cities of Fort Atkinson, Jefferson, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Watertown, and Whitewater; and the villages of Cambridge, Johnson Creek, Palmyra and Sullivan form the county's political subdivisions.

Watertown, Whitewater, and Cambridge municipal boundaries cross county lines. Watertown is partially in Dodge County. Whitewater is partially in Walworth County; and Cambridge is partially in Dane County.

Approximately 38% of Jefferson County's residents live in rural areas. For this plan's purposes, rural residents are defined as residents who live in municipalities (such as townships and villages) in the county which do not maintain a public library. In Jefferson County those areas are: the towns of Aztalan, Cold Spring, Concord, Farmington, Hebron, Ixonia, Jefferson, Koshkonong, Lake Mills, Milford, Oakland, Palmyra, Sullivan, Sumner, Waterloo and Watertown and the villages of Lac La Belle and Sullivan.

County Library Service Profile

There are nine county public libraries whose purpose is to provide library service to the residents of Jefferson County. A resident may visit any public library in the county to seek information, material, and services. The Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson serves as the resource library for Jefferson County. The nine Jefferson County libraries are as follows: Cambridge Community Library, Dwight Foster Public Library (Fort Atkinson), Jefferson Public Library, Johnson Creek Public Library, L.D. Fargo Public Library (Lake Mills), Powers Memorial Library (Palmyra), Karl Junginger Memorial Library (Waterloo), Watertown Public Library, and Irvin L. Young Memorial Library (Whitewater).

Jefferson County maintains a library service under the authority of Wisconsin Statutes 43.57 and 43.58. The governing body of the Jefferson County Library Service is the Jefferson County Library Board. It was established by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors in 1979. It consists of seven members appointed by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors. The composition, powers, and duties of the Library Board are prescribed in Wisconsin Statutes. The Jefferson County Library Board meets approximately 2-4 times a year to plan, evaluate services, prepare the county budget request, decide on the distribution of county funds, and act on matters in regard to the library system.

Jefferson County, through the Jefferson County Library Board, contracts with the nine county public libraries to provide access to library services to the county residents not living in a municipality which supports a public library (hereafter referred to as rural residents). As a result of that contractual process, rural residents have equal access to services of any of the nine public libraries in the same manner as the residents of those cities and villages.

In 1980, the Jefferson County Library Service joined the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System (hereafter referred to as MWFLS). Jefferson County currently holds five seats on the MWFLS Board. Allocation of county seats on the MWFLS Board is made based on population in accordance with Wisconsin Statute 43.19 (b).

The Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System consists of three counties: Jefferson, Dodge, and Washington counties. Public library systems are organized according to Wisconsin Statutes 43.13 through 43.24. The Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System is funded by state aid monies. Library system services include: management of the shared automation system and consortium, interlibrary loan, van delivery, continuing education, grants for specific purposes, special needs services, technology assistance and cooperative agreements with other library systems. County libraries receive significant benefits by virtue of their library system membership.

The Jefferson County Library Board administers the county service through an annual contract with the Dwight Foster Public Library. This contract provides for payment for the services of The Dwight Foster Public Library's director to act as the Administrator of the Jefferson County Library Board and for the services of its Reference Librarian to provide reference services to county libraries. The amount required for resource library costs has been reduced from a high of $13,481 in 1998 to $2,394 in 2001. This dramatic decrease in costs is primarily due to the integration of technology into the interlibrary loan process. The contract for 2008 was set at the rate of $2,872.

Planning Process

A county planning process was undertaken in 1978 prior to the formation of the county library service. That plan was in effect until 1994 when the county library plan was rewritten. A new library plan was written in 2000 and adopted for the 2001-2006 time period. This library plan was revised in 2007 and will set forth the goals and objectives for 2008-2012.

The Jefferson County Library Board made the decision to be involved in the planning process as a committee of the whole. All librarians and local trustees were encouraged to be involved in the process as well. A draft plan was prepared by the Jefferson County Library Services Administrator. The plan was reviewed and adopted at the October 2, 2007 Jefferson County Library Services board meeting after a public hearing was conducted to which representatives of each legal public library in the county were invited. The plan was provided to the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors for their approval and, once approved, it was provided to the Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning (DLTCL) in the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) at the state of Wisconsin.

Current Library Services

Jefferson County rural residents benefit from the following library services:

  • Skilled staff
  • DVDs and videocassettes
  • Internet access, including wireless access
  • Interlibrary loan information
  • Reference materials
  • Music compact discs and audiocassettes
  • Magazines and Newspapers
  • Fax service
  • Community information
  • Summer reading program
  • Local history resources
  • Local author archives
  • Exam proctoring
  • Die Cutting Service
  • Independent study areas
  • Literacy Services
  • Job search information
  • Books
  • Recorded books
  • Downloadable digital media
  • Access to electronic information
  • Large print books
  • Computer software
  • Photocopiers for public use
  • Computers for public use
  • Children's story hours
  • Programs for all ages
  • Meeting rooms
  • Tax forms
  • Laminating service
  • Internet use training
  • Book discussion groups
  • Audiovisual equipment
  • Remote access to library catalogs

From January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2006, a total of 248,915 books, magazines, videos, compact discs and other library materials were checked out of county libraries by rural residents. In 2006, therefore, rural circulation represented nearly 22% of the total circulation in the county as 1,142,400 total items were circulated in 2006.

With the advent of technology and its adoption in library services, library use has changed considerably in the past several years. Circulation, historically the best measure of library use, may no longer be adequate to measure the full complement of services a library now offers. In the past, to do a report, a student typically looked up a topic in the "Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature," found citations for magazines articles, found the magazines, and checked them out. Today, a person can use the Internet (particularly with the help of content rich site such as BadgerLink) to search a topic, find a magazine article in full text, and print off the information. In this scenario, the person received the information, and in all likelihood used library services to do so, but never checked out an item.

Libraries have dramatically expanded their access to information beyond their own walls. Offering Internet access is crucial to a modern day library. All county libraries offer Internet access for the public. Many of them do so via high speed data lines with paid subscriptions to information providers. This offers county patrons "value added" Internet access and thereby makes quality information available to all regardless of age, wealth, social status, gender, political or religious belief. Libraries will be ever more important as a bridge to gap the growing information divide. Even as technology continues to bring changes to our society, the fundamental core beliefs of the importance of education as a public good in a democratic society remain steadfast. The library continues to be the institution that best fulfills the role as "university of the people."

Providing public access to an array of technologies, including the Internet, shared catalogs, and computers as tools for living in a modern day world, is an important service goal for county libraries. Implementing technologies to improve library efficiency and effectiveness is equally important as all county libraries strive to make the best use of tax dollars while providing the best possible library service.

Automation Consortium

In January of 2007 the Jefferson County libraries who are members of Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System merged into an automation consortium called SHARE. This system includes all the public libraries in five counties: Jefferson, Dodge, Washington, Walworth, and Racine counties. Merging libraries onto a shared automation system made economic sense. The cost of library automation is no longer affordable to a small stand-alone library. Sharing the costs among a group of libraries allows each library to participate as well as to provide for a more level playing field for each member. Beyond the economic advantage is the benefit that most citizens appreciate--- vastly increased and equitable access. Every time a person does a search on the shared catalog, the system provides a list of holdings across the entire group of libraries. It is vitally important to the success of the system that the member libraries work together to coordinate the system and to provide uniformity whenever possible. This allows the automation system to be an effective and powerful tool for the local library staffs as well as the citizens who use the libraries. This project was jointly funded with dollars from Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library system, Jefferson County, and each local library.

Funding Issues

Since 1979, Jefferson County has taxed its rural residents so that those residents would have access to all municipal library services available within Jefferson County.

Municipalities within Jefferson County which already tax themselves to provide support for their municipal library may exempt themselves from the county library tax providing they meet the requirements specified in S.43.64 (2). All municipalities in Jefferson County have historically done so.

As a result, the county tax is assessed on rural residents only and is a non-countywide tax. This has allowed the county library levy to be excluded from any county tax levy restrictions that the county must follow.

In 1992 Jefferson County first met its goal of reimbursing county libraries 100% of the average cost to provide library services to its rural residents. Since that time, its commitment to "fair share" funding (paying for library services at a rate equitable with municipal residents) has made a significant difference in the quality of libraries throughout Jefferson County. Beginning in 2008, the annual county library budget request is determined by a formula that calculates local cost per circulation. A county-wide average cost per circulation is then calculated and that rate is used to pay each county library based on the prior year's circulations to rural residents of Jefferson County. Each library is guaranteed, by state law, a reimbursement rate of at least 70% of their costs. Most libraries receive a rate much higher than that. The goal is that Jefferson County will tax at a rate of 100% of the aggregate costs per circulation so that the "fair share" partnership between the county and the municipalities is maintained.

As of the year 2001, counties within the state of Wisconsin were required to reimburse the public libraries within their boundaries in accordance with Wisconsin Statutes s. 43.12 (1) and s43.12 (2). S.43.12(1) says: "By March 1 of each year, a county that does not maintain a consolidated public library for the county under s.43.57 and that contains residents who are not residents of a municipality that maintains a public library under s43.52 or 43.53 shall pay each public library in the county an amount that is equal to at least 70% of the amount computed by multiplying the number of loans reported under sub.(2) by the amount that results from dividing the total operations expenditures of the library during the calendar year for which the number of loans reported, not including capital expenditures or expenditures of federal funds, by the total number of loans of material made by the public library during the calendar year for which the loans are reported." Appendix A provides a worksheet for a step-by-step calculation for determining minimum county library reimbursements.

And s43.12(2) says: "By July 1 of each year, each public library lying in whole or in part in a county shall provide a statement to the county clerk of that county that reports the number of loans of materials made by that library during the prior calendar year to residents of the county who are not residents of a municipality that maintains a public library under s.43.52 or 43.53 and the total number of loans of material made by that library during the previous calendar year."

Furthermore, Wisconsin Statute 43.15 (2) (b) requires that to be a member of a library system in Wisconsin, "The county shall maintain its support for library services at a level not lower than the average of the previous 3 years."

Cash payments or reimbursements to libraries for rural usage are determined by a formula (current formula methodology included in appendix B) annually reviewed by the Jefferson County Library Board.

From 1995 through 2007, Jefferson County maintained an annual contractual agreement with the Oconomowoc Public Library which reimbursed that library for use by rural residents of Jefferson County in recognition of county residents' wish to use that library. This request for funding was added on to the top of the total budget request each year. It provided important access for those Jefferson County residents who lived in the far eastern portion of the county, many of whom reside in the Oconomowoc school district.

In 2006 state law changed requiring counties to pay adjacent county libraries and, as a result, beginning in 2008 a separate contract with Oconomowoc became unnecessary. That change, which was signed into law on May 19, 2006, is known as Act 420. A key provision of the law extended to all adjacent counties the requirement that counties reimburse public libraries for the cost of serving county residents who live in areas of the county without public library service. Beginning in 2008, libraries in adjacent counties, both within and across system borders (but excluding Milwaukee County), may be reimbursed for library use by residents of each of those counties who do not maintain a public library.

In addition to cash reimbursement to libraries, each year the Jefferson County Library Service budget includes a small amount of funding for Board activities such as meetings and mileage and the annual contract with the Dwight Foster Public Library to act as the county resource library.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Jefferson County Library Board is to make quality library services available to rural residents by securing equitable funding for established libraries.

Goals and Objectives:

I. Extend quality library services to all citizens without regard to geographical boundaries.

A. Ensure access for all Jefferson County residents to the full range of library services in the county libraries and in all adjacent county libraries
B. Monitor the development and growth of the state network and other network technologies, and seek adequate state funding to allow all Jefferson County public library patrons and citizens access to statewide resources through the network.
C. Remain current in knowledge and anticipate the emergence of new technologies and media, and acquire or access them for patron use.

II. Continue to seek equitable funding for library services in Jefferson County.

A. Continue to provide funding for central services such as the resource library contract and the council expenses.
B. Provide not less than "fair share" funding cash reimbursement to all public libraries in the county for access by rural county residents by utilizing a formula annually reviewed by the Jefferson County Library Council.
C. Provide a compensatory amount for any library that would not receive its statutorily required 70% of cost (s.43.12) through the county formula so that each library in Jefferson County is guaranteed a reimbursement from the county that is at least 70% of its total operational costs.
D. By July 1st each year provide the county clerk with documentation of circulation to Jefferson County rural residents and total circulation at all county public libraries as required by s.43.12 (2).
E. Ensure that county funds for library services are disbursed by March 1 of each year s.43.12 (1).

III. Investigate methods for best measuring library use

A. Continue to explore measurement beyond circulation statistics.
B. Support and encourage the Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning (DLTCL) to explore ways to best measure library use for funding purposes.
C. Encourage all county libraries to track patron use of technology including all measures required by the Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning (DLTCL).

Review of the Plan

Before the end of 2012, efforts to review and revise this plan will be made for the following year.

Appendix A


Beginning in 2008, counties are required by Wisconsin Statues to pay each municipal and joint public library within the county as well as all adjacent counties at least 70 percent of the cost of library services provided to residents of the county who do no maintain a public library. (The only exceptions to this requirement are consolidated county libraries and counties with a population over 500,000.) Below is the form used to calculate the minimum cost per circulation per state law.

  1. total operating expenditures (Annual Report, page 4, Section VI, line 6) _______________
  2. federal expenditures (Annual Report, page 4, Section VI, line 9) ______________________
  3. total operating expenditures, less federal expenditures (#1 above minus #2 above) _______
  4. total circulation (Annual Report, page 2, Section III, line 1C Total) ___________________
  5. divide #3 above by #4 above to calculate expenditures per circulation__________________
  6. number of loans to residents of the county who are not residents of a library municipality (Annual Report, page 6, Section XI, line 2.b for internal county nonresident circulation and lines 3 or 9 for adjacent counties)___________
  7. multiply #5 above by #6 above_______________
  8. multiply #7 above by .7 (or 70 percent) _________________

The statutory formula represents the minimum payment that must be made to each library in the county and all adjacent counties. Counties are free to use other formulas to determine cost of service and to distribute county reimbursements, as long as the payment to each library in the county meets or exceed the statutory minimum formula amount calculated above. An individual library board may elect to have county funding for "shared services" such as a centralized processing service, credited toward the 70% level rather than receive the funding directly.

Appendix B

The Jefferson County Library Service Methodology for Reimbursing Jefferson County Libraries for Serving Rural Jefferson County Residents (Utilized Beginning with 2008 Budget Request)


U=Use Factor. The total checkouts recorded to card holders whose patron record indicates that the patron resides in an area taxed by the county for library service. These cardholders are considered "rural" patrons who do not live in a municipality, village, etc. that has a library and are residents of Jefferson County.

C=Cost Factor. A per unit cost based on a countywide average. This is determined in the following manner:

The cost per circulation rate is calculated for each library in Jefferson County. Individual rates are then multiplied by the actual rural circulations from the previous year and a total amount is determined for the budget request. The goal is for Jefferson County to fund 100% of the county's share of the costs to provide library service to its rural residents.

From that budget request subtotal several things are subtracted: library council and county resource library expenses as well as the total amount of the compensatory payments. This is the amount left to distribute to the 9 libraries. This net amount is divided by the actual total number of rural circulations countywide which sets the reimbursement rate at, more or less, a countywide average.

Comp=Compensatory Amount. Compensatory amounts are given to each library whose library would not otherwise receive the statutory minimum of 70% reimbursement of municipal costs with the implementation of the formula.

P=Payment. By contract, Jefferson County delivers payment by March 1st of each year.

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