We have had many community members ask us about a short article from the June 18 Kewaskum Statesman, “Kewaskum Library Could Face Decrease in Materials.” Some were concerned that we were losing funding or that we would not be a able to add any new books next year.
The truth is that 2016 is going to be a challenging year for us. Not only is Jefferson County leaving our library system, but the future of the system itself is in jeopardy.
What is a library system? It is a state-funded agency that is staffed by professionals who make sure that public libraries are receiving the services mandated to them by state statutes. In our case, the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System has a four-person staff that coordinates delivery, represents the libraries in negotiating for better pricing on technology, runs our central computer server, troubleshoots problems with the software we use to keep track of our material, provides graphic design and printing help, and other duties.
Our library system is in a state of flux. In 2016, it will only contain 2 counties (Dodge and Washington). So we have been investigating other options for the future. We will be losing direct access to material from Jefferson County libraries, so that will certainly hurt our ability to give you the diversity of items you have come to expect from trio.
The other hard thing about 2016 is that we will be hiring a new Youth Services Librarian. In order to afford to offer benefits to that employee, we have no choice but to cut some of our materials budget. However, in my mind this tends to balance out since we literally have no room on our shelves for more books.
However, these challenges will set us up to follow a new and more service-oriented path, which libraries around the world are adopting. We’ve got a stack of program ideas, a ton of new digital content coming, and a newly updated internet connection that allows for even faster access in our building.
So. Things WILL change (as things tend to do), but they will change for the better. Next year will be a rebuilding year (as they say in the sports world) and I am certain that in the years to come, Kewaskum and the other communities we serve will be better off for the groundwork we will be laying in 2016.
Still have questions? Library Director Steev Baker is always happy to talk budgets, statistics, and library service. Give him a call at 626-4312.