Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Connecting Communities

I had the pleasure of making a recent visit to the Charles M. White Library in Stevens Point along with State Superintendent Tony Evers. We were greeted by a wonderful staff who were clearly proud of the facility they manage and the programs they provide. Deb McCabe, Assistant Director, and Nicole Ozanich, Youth Services Librarian, gave us a full tour from top to bottom. We even saw where the spirits who haunt the place hang out!
State Superintendent Tony Evers at the Charles M. White Library
State Superintendent Tony Evers
at the Charles M. White Library.
Photo courtesy of Kurt Kiefer

It was clear from our visit and discussion how engaged the library team was with their community. The youth area within the library was alive and vibrant with many different spaces for a wide range of ages and interests. The proof of their good work was borne out when a mother and her six-year-old son came into the youth area. The little guy made a bee-line for the shelves where he knew his next book would be found. He took it from the shelves and immediately plopped into the comfy chairs adjacent to the shelves. Mom told us what a wonderful place it was for her and other parents in the community. Her words were infectious and we know she shared broadly with her fellow Stevens Point neighbors and friends what a great experience they had in the library.

The Charles M. White Library is but one example of so many across the state of Wisconsin striving to connect with their communities in ways that matter most to each locality. When libraries engage with the citizens and leaders of their communities great things can happen. Often the engagement creates a basic awareness of services which are then utilized even more extensively. In other cases, synergies are created and new programs and services result. In either case, the individual needs of the community are being met.

I encourage you all to make these types of connections. Tell your story. Build some new bridges. Whether it is around early and family literacy, workforce development, inter-generational creative spaces, or creating community dialogue forums (or one of dozens more of great ideas), just do it. You won't be sorry you did.

Written by
Kurt Kiefer, Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Libraries and Technology