Monday, October 19, 2015

Library of the Month: Black River Falls Public Library

The Library of the Month is a celebration of Wisconsin libraries compiled by the BadgerLink team.

2015 marks a monumental year for the Black River Falls Public Library (BRFPL), as it’s been 20 years since the current library was built. There has been a public library in Black River Falls for much longer, though -- in fact, the first public library in Wisconsin was in Black River Falls nearly 143 years ago! It opened in November 1872, and the Black River Falls community has been enjoying their library ever since.

Reader in comfortable seating area at BRFPL
Image courtesy of BRFPL
Director Tammy Peasley and her staff have been sharing the library’s history with patrons in the form of displays as part of the current library building’s 20 year celebration. She put together an infographic comparing the library’s statistics from annual reports in 1995 to the 2015 statistics. In 1995, the BRFPL hosted 68 programs that had a total of 1,696 attendees. Twenty years later, the BRF hosted 188 programs with nearly 3,000 attendees! The other statistics are just as dramatic -- 5,124 registered borrowers in 1995, and 8,404 in 2015, 24,000 library visits in 1995 compared with this year’s 67,941, and 1 computer (staff only) in 1995 compared with today’s 14 public computers!

Many changes have been taking place in the recent past as well. The Black River Falls Public Library has actively sought and received grants and other funding from community organizations to update and improve the library. Recent grant-funded projects include the new Teen Area that was created by rearranging the children’s area and adding new furniture in March of last year, and an “Internet Cafe,” complete with a plumbed Keurig and new flooring, which was funded in part by a donation from the local Lions Club. Another grant was used to purchase flip-top tables and stackable chairs to make the program room more customizable for different event types, including book clubs, job counseling, tutoring, and library-hosted programs.

Staff at BRFPL
Image of staff courtesy of BRFPL
The staff at BRFPL have had fun with creative projects in the library. This past year, they built a tree out of old discarded books that were found in the director’s office, and they rotate the decorations on the tree seasonally. Director Tammy Peasley credits her staff for much of the library’s success through the years. “We are fortunate to have the facility that we do - but it would be just a building without the staff. Our library staff have a reputation in the community of being friendly and helpful. The library is staffed by one full-time position and eight part-time positions (in addition to custodial staff at an hour/day). We have dedicated staff members that are knowledgeable and willing to assist patrons not only with books and library resources, but also assist troubleshooting many computer questions for patrons. We are fortunate to have the caliber of staff at the library to provide quality service for all library users.”

The Black River Falls Public Library is an important space for all in the community. Here’s to the next 20 years -- and the next 143!

Written by:
Gail Murray, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning