Monday, December 15, 2008

Seasonal thoughts: joys & concerns

[originally written Nov. 22 and published in the Winter '08 issue of the Fine Print newsletter]

At this writing, we are past the City’s budget adoption, coming up to Thanksgiving and looking forward to the challenges of 2009. In this season, I’m finding a lot to be thankful for and many challenges to anticipate. We were dramatically reminded in the recent national elections that democracy doesn’t come easy, choices are hard, and you can’t take government for granted. is is just as true of the local government decisions, which may not happen on the grand scale of national politics, but are more accessible to direct citizen involvement.

Thinking particularly of our budget, I’m thankful:

  • for the work of many people in funding library operations for another year, including the staff, Library Board, Mayor and Council;
  • for the support of our Friends and Library Foundation;
  • for the thoughtful support of local institutions: the League of Women Voters, the Post-Crescent newspaper, and Appleton Downtown, Inc.
  • for community members who spoke up at the public hearing on the budget, and were eloquent about the importance of library service in our community;
  • for others who called, wrote and contacted their alderpersons on behalf of the library.
The most hotly debated library item in the budget is also one of our biggest challenges in the new year. After a study this year documented space and design problems with our current facility, 2009 will feature a project for program design to lay out spaces for a new or remodeled library,
giving us some good cost figures and maybe even concept drawings. is study is funded by the City and our Foundation. But whatever the result, we know we are years away from any major facility changes. is brings me to the challenges of 2009:
  • doing a thorough job of space planning and program design that will help inform future decisions;
  • beginning a process of community fund-raising -- because we need to accept that some private dollars will be essential to moving any project forward;
  • seeking ever more effective ways to work with our Foundation and Friends;
  • meeting ongoing service needs with the facility we have, seeking new ways to be more cost-effective, environmentally responsible and efficient
  • continuing to develop technology, training and volunteers as means to support staff and services;
  • telling our story to the community, to help people understand library issues for future decisions, as well as make the most effective use of the services we offer.
A final concern is an occasion for both thankfulness and challenge: after 27 years here at APL, including the last 12 years as Assistant Director, Barbara Kelly is retiring. As a volunteer, part-time staff, professional librarian, computer geek, supervisor and administrator, Barbara has done amazing work which has shaped this library over decades. We will greatly miss her. She is a leader not only in our library, but in our community, and the statewide library community. We are in the process of hiring a new Assistant Director, but Barbara cannot be replaced.

[Barbara's final "BiblioTech Topics" article reviews some of the changes she has seen and facilitated.]

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