Dwight Foster Public Library
Building on Excellence
Strategic Plan
2007 - 2009


Defining a library used to be easy. It was the place to go to borrow a book. While it is still that, today it is so much more! The library now has a global reach. It provides information in a variety of formats from books to videos to the World Wide Web. Its customers range from preschool to old-school. In fact, today's library is expected to meet the ever-changing needs of an entire community. For the library to be successful it must be ready to change and adapt. To do that requires a plan. This document has been created as a vehicle for the Dwight Foster Public Library as it moves into the next century.

This document represents a review of the previous strategic plans by the Planning Committee with the additional input of the full Library Board of Trustees. We encourage suggestions, ideas and dreams as we begin to move towards the library expansion. We are beginning to build a new bibliography. Please consider suggesting resource ideas (i.e. books, web sites, people we might talk with).

There is much to be found in this plan. Goals were reviewed and revised. Each of those goals has very specific associated Actions which, once accomplished, will provide the building blocks and allow the library to meet its goals.

As you read the plan presented in this document, consider what the Dwight Foster Public Library has meant to you and what you see in its future. Think of the challenges ahead and the changes to come. The success of this document lies in its ability to move the organization along an evolving course of change. This plan, therefore, is designed to be a working document. It will be updated annually throughout the 3 year time span.


Fort Atkinson's first library was located at 115 S. Main Street on the second floor of the building where JM Carpets is now located. The first librarian, Miss Sue Nichols, was hired on October 6, 1892. The Library moved to East Milwaukee Avenue in 1910 and a new building was built at the current location in 1916. The Dwight Foster Public Library has progressed mightily these first 100 years. Additions were built in 1931 and 1983. From its humble beginning to today's handsome 22,000 square foot building, it has been a dramatic change indeed. The circulation was 8,000 items in 1900 and is now over 220,000 items annually. Technology has brought the most changes to the library. However, from the beginning, the mission of the library has always been to help people reach their full potential.


The Dwight Foster Public Library is located in the city of Fort Atkinson which has a population of approximately 12,000 people. The library service area includes rural residents from the townships of Koshkonong, Hebron, Jefferson, Oakland, Sumner, and Cold Spring which total approximately 5,000 additional people. Residents from other communities and townships in Jefferson County as well as other residents from other counties use the Dwight Foster Public Library but have little impact on the overall picture.

Population projections show the Fort Atkinson area will see slow but steady growth. The county grew at a rate of approximately thirteen percent between 1970 and 1990.

The Dwight Foster Public Library is the resource library for Jefferson County. As a result, it has additional responsibilities to the other libraries in the county. It also has the responsibility of providing assistance to the Jefferson County Library Council. The seven member Jefferson County Library Council is appointed by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors.

The Dwight Foster Public Library is a part of the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System. The Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System is a federation of 3 counties which are: Jefferson, Dodge, and Washington. There are 25 public libraries in the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System. Five citizens from Jefferson County are appointed by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors to serve on the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System Board of Trustees. The library also belongs to the SHARE automation consortium which serves 44 libraries in a five county area.

The Dwight Foster Public Library receives direct funding from the city of Fort Atkinson and Jefferson County (for non-municipal residents only). The state of Wisconsin through Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System provides indirect financial aid as well as a wide variety of library services. In 2007 the funding for the Dwight Foster Public Library will originate as follows: City of Fort Atkinson $399,050 (or 70% of the total funding), County of Jefferson $171,219 (or 29% of the total funding.) Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System will provide approximately $8,055 in payments for goods and services on the library's behalf in 2007. Gifts are not considered a part of the annual operating budget but do reflect a somewhat significant, albeit unpredictable, source of funds for both operating and capital purchases.

The Library has a strong, vital, active Friends of the Library with nearly 200 members (individual, family, and corporate.)

The library building is very crowded; all collections are at their physical maximum capacity. In 2002, a full analysis of the library's space conditions was completed by space needs consultant, George Lawson. His report is available for review upon request.

To further explore library space options, the library board of trustees hired Uihlein Wilson Architects to conduct a space needs feasibility study. Focus groups and a three day workshop were held in the Fall of 2002 to gather information and prepare an analysis of how the existing structure might be used to accommodate the community's needs for the next twenty years. The report was completed in 2003 and is available for review upon request. The library completed a building program in 2005 which outlines in words and numbers the space needs of the library for the next twenty years.

Library Mission, Vision, and Values

A well defined vision and mission provide staff and administration with a shared sense of purpose, direction, and opportunity. They also tell the world its reason for existence.

The vision...

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.

The mission...

The mission of the Dwight Foster Public Library is to help people achieve their full potential by being a leading resource for information, education, culture and recreation.

The values...

An organization's mission is based upon and supported by the organization's core values. These are values which are inherent to the organization and transcend time.

The library board and staff:

  • are accessible to all.
  • are people focused.
  • are proactive in providing library services.
  • provide free and equal access to information and materials.
  • practice intellectual freedom and confidentiality.
  • responsibly allocate and utilize resources for maximum return on the public's investment.
  • value its staff as its greatest asset.
  • harness the power of technology to the maximum advantage viewing it as a means to the end of better library services and not an end in itself.
  • value youth as the future of our library and society.
  • value the collection, preservation and legacies of important local authors.

Strategic Initiatives and Actions

The following section of the plan outlines strategic initiatives, specific goals designed to address the strategic initiatives, and specific actions planned to meet those goals.

Strategic Issue #1: Services and Collections

Goal 1.1: Dwight Foster Public Library (DFPL) will provide programs to support its mission and enhance the quality of life of its citizens. (Library Director)
  • Action 1.1.a: Continue to provide adult programming by conducting at least two major program presentations each year. (Staff)
  • Action 1.1.b: Continue to identify programming partnerships. (Staff, review semi-annually)
  • Action 1.1.c: Continue to provide training on electronic resources for adults and youth, at times that are most convenient for the majority of users. (Staff, review and report annually)
  • Action 1.1.d: Continue encouragement of reading through use of bibliographies, displays, and other promotions which change regularly. (Staff)
  • Action 1.1.e: Support the cultural resource of the Lorine Niedecker collection. (Staff jointly with museum staff and Niedecker committee)
Goal 1.2: Dwight Foster Public Library will effectively meet the demand for books and other library materials. (Library Director)
  • Action 1.2.a: Continuously monitor the number of holds per item and purchase additional copies at a ratio of 5 holds per item. (Staff)
  • Action 1.2.b: Continually monitor high demand areas for budget allocation. (Staff review and report annually)
  • Action 1.2.c: Continuously evaluate appropriateness of new formats for purchase consideration. (Staff, review and report annually)
  • Action 1.2.d: Continuously enhance information service through evaluation and selection of electronic resources. (Staff)
  • Action 1.2.e: Continuously weed collection. (Staff, report monthly)
Goal 1.3: Identify and respond to community and individual suggestions and concerns about library collections and services (Library Director)
  • Action 1.3.a: Review policies for circulation and selection as needed (Library Director and Board)
  • Action 1.3.b: Implement a community survey measuring citizens' preferences and suggestions for an expanded facility. (Staff)
  • Action 1.3.c: Implement a library impact measurement tool. (Board and Director)

Stategic Issue #2: Public Presence

Goal 2.1: Weave library services into the fabric of our community through alliances and partnerships with other libraries, businesses, and organizations, resulting in strong community pride and support. (Library Director)
  • Action 2.1.a: Each year, Dwight Foster Public Library is involved in at least one collaborative project with another new organization. (Staff)
  • Action 2.1.b: Continue to encourage participation of the Director, Assistant Director, and Youth Services Librarian with community organizations. (Library Board, Director, and Staff)
  • Action 2.1.c: Continue to expand collaboration with Jefferson County Literacy Council. (Staff)
Goal 2.2: Increase active community support of the Dwight Foster Public Library. (Library Board and Staff)
  • Action 2.2.a: Encourage and support Friends membership development. (Staff and Friends Board)
  • Action 2.2.b: Continue to support and monitor the growth of the trust fund. (Library Board and Library Director)
  • Action 2.2.c: Gain and maintain the support of the community for a building project (Library Board and Library Director)
  • Action 2.2d: Gain and maintain the support of the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation for a building project (Library Board and Library Director)
Goal 2.3: Staff will improve communications with and better inform people in the greater Fort Atkinson area. (Library Director)
  • Action 2.3.a: Develop a library expansion plan and presentation according to the building program timeline. (Library Board Building Committee)
  • Action 2.3.b: Continue to produce and distribute regular library newsletter published two times per year. (Staff and Friends Board)
  • Action 2.3.c: Create and distribute annual reports. (Library Director)
  • Action 2.3.d: Continuously publish and advertise library's world wide web site as a source of information. (Library Staff)
  • Action 2.3.e: Actively promote the availability of staff speakers and programs to community groups. Target one new organization per year. (Staff)
  • Action 2.3.f: Continuously distribute press releases to media in addition to local newspaper. (Staff)

Strategic Issue #3: Technology

Goal 3.1: Dwight Foster Public Library will utilize technology to carry out library services and explore new ways to create, store, access, and deliver information. (Director)
  • Action 3.1.a: Continuously evaluate library staff versus contract services for technology support. (Staff, review weekly reports)
  • Action 3.1.b: Rewrite and revise the technology plan every two years. (Library Board Technology Committee)
  • Action 3.1.c: Continue to address Internet access issues in accordance with confidentiality, security, and administrative concerns. (Staff, review software solutions)
  • Action 3.1.d: Stay abreast of possible new technologies for the expanded library facility. (Staff)
  • Action 3.1.e: Actively participate in the improvement of the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System sponsored shared library automation system called SHARE. (Director)
  • Action 3.1.f: Continue to budget a 4 year replacement cycle for all computer equipment and software. (Director)
  • Action 3.1.g: Maintain and continuously add depth to library's world wide web site. (Staff)

Stategic Issue #4: Human Resources

Goal 4.1: Provide friendly, approachable, knowledgeable, expert staff.
  • Action 4.1.a: Continue a comprehensive training program. (Staff, review staff training needs weekly)
  • Action 4.1.b: Recognize staff for their contributions. (Director, annual review of full time staff; formal "thank you" to all staff annually)
  • Action 4.1.c: Provide at least one continuing education opportunity for all staff annually. (Director, identify during annual review and budget appropriately)
  • Action 4.1.d: Develop technology competency standards for all staff. (Staff)
Goal 4.2: Employ, schedule, and retain sufficient staff to effectively operate the library.(Board and Director)
  • Action 4.2.a: Schedule staff to provide for more than just basic checkout service (e.g. have at least one person on duty at all times who will be trained to answer questions) as measured by the work schedule. (Staff)
  • Action 4.2.b: Analyze allocation of budget dollars for staff as part of the yearly operations budget. (Director)
  • Action 4.2.c: Regularly review staff wages and benefits in light of market conditions. (Director, target once per year)

Strategic Issue #5: Facilities

Goal 5.1: Dwight Foster Public Library will provide a clean, comfortable, accessible, and safe library facility. (Board and Director)
  • Action 5.1.a: Develop security procedures and train staff in proper procedure. (Staff)
  • Action 5.1.b: Review and revise as needed the policy regarding appropriate conduct for patrons. (Board & Director)
  • Action 5.1.c: Review staffing needs in maintenance annually. (Director, reflect needs in operating budget annually)
  • Action 5.1.d: Annually assess and address interior and exterior maintenance needs. (Staff)
  • Action 5.1.e: Consider users with special needs in all technology services implementations for use in the expanded facility. (Library Building Committee and Staff)
Goal 5.2: Dwight Foster Public Library will provide adequate facilities to meet projected growth in demand for materials, services, and access to technology. (Library Building Committee)
  • Action 5.2.a: Consider hiring a fund-raising feasibility consultant prior to community fundraising project. (Library Board/Building Committee)
  • Action 5.2.b: Complete a building design program in accordance with building program timeline (including public discussion, identification of funding, and preparation of a referendum if necessary.) (Library Board Building Committee/Board, Staff, Consultant, Architect)
  • Action 5.2.c: Request proposals for review from architects with library experience for prior to expansion project. (Library Board Building Committee/Board, Director)
  • Action 5.2.d: Review the needs of the current Lorine Niedecker collection to plan a place in the expanded facility. (Library Board Building Committee, Niedecker Committee, Staff)
  • Action 5.2.e: Plan for the needs of the young adults of the community in the expanded facility. (Library Board Building Committee, Staff)
  • Action 5.2.f: Conduct at least two board development activities which will focus on the library's building expansion program (Library Board Building Committee, Director)


This strategic plan is developed to help guide the library into its next phase of service. The goals and actions are ambitious and realistic. This plan must be reviewed annually so that accomplishments can be recorded and failures reconciled, as well as to determine if a shift in focus needs to take place.

Adopted by the Library Board of Trustees November (November 1, 2004)
Revised by the Library Board of Trustees (June 4, 2007)

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