Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Library, thank goodness, will not be shushed

An editorial in the Oshkosh Northwestern lifts up the planned remodeling of the Oshkosh Library, fourteen years after a major expansion. The paper notes:

The Oshkosh Public Library's overseers have a vision and action plan that not only combats the loss of patrons to the latte-brewing retail bookstores of the world in the good times, it also will strengthen 106 Washington Ave's standing as thee community crossroads in this city amid the bad.

The next piece of the physical and philosophical transformation begins on Dec. 15, and it's a great move for Oshkosh. Libraries are easily bullied if not shushed in tough economic times. "Just not as essential – we're in a recession," bloviate the most shortsighted of critics. But tough times call for reinvention in our public institutions. Stagnancy is exactly the wrong thing to prescribe.

Among the features planned for the current remodeling are moving periodicals, comfy furniture and social areas to the first floor and moving books to the second floor to create quiet study space. This will pave the way for planned future improvements including:

  • first floor as digital nerve center
  • more self-checkout stations (freeing up staff to help patrons)
  • tech center
  • small-group computer lab
  • café

Great plans, and not unlike what our community study this year told us we'd need. But we also need more space to work with and Oshkosh had already dealt with many of their space, security and meeting room problems in their last remodel.

I'll look forward to visiting the reconfigured library. Congratulations to our neighbors for taking this step!

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