Public appreciates Colfax library’s services and programs — building needs more space

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — They like the Colfax Public Library’s programs, services and staff — but the facility needs more space.

That was the consensus of the dozen or so people who attended a visioning session for the Colfax Public Library November 19.

John Thompson, director of the Indianhead Federated Library System, conducted the visioning session.

Thompson oversees 53 libraries in the system and lives just outside of Menomonie.

The Indianhead Federated Library System serves 450,000 people.

Circulation at the Colfax Public Library has doubled since the year 2000, Thompson said.

Other libraries in the Indianhead system have study rooms where people can work alone or in groups; computer rooms; display spaces for local history; activities such as Book Club in a Bag, and several of the libraries have fireplaces, Thompson noted.

Strengths

When asked about the strengths of the Colfax Public Library, one woman declared that the pre-school story time is “a lifesaver.”

Colfax does not have much in the way of activities and events, and the pre-school story time allows her to get out and have networking time with other moms, she said.

The Summer Reading Program, Wi-fi access, which extends to Tower Park, interlibrary loans through the MORE system and WisCat, are additional strengths.

The people who work at the library along with the building’s historic charm are also strengths.

“And no one has ever shushed me here,” declared one woman.

“Children are welcome here. It’s a fun, safe place,” said another.

The location of the library, in downtown Colfax and within easy walking distance from the school, were listed as strengths as well.

Other strengths include the variety of materials and the programs that are kid-friendly or adult-oriented, they said.

The Colfax Public Library also has technology available for use: iPads, computers, Kindles, and Nooks.

Improvements

When asked what improvements could be made to the library, Lisa Ludwig, library director, said an older gentleman who visits the library also visits libraries in Roseville, Hudson and Menomonie.

The older gentleman said a help desk for just the technology would be a good addition to the Colfax library, she said.

Some libraries have staff on hand who only work with technology and help people with a variety of tasks using the computers, such as filing on-line applications, updating Facebook pages and building websites, Ludwig noted.

Among the people who attended the visioning session, many of them said that more space would be a big improvement to the library.

Space for study rooms and computer rooms and a larger children’s area would make the library even better, they said.

Hours on Saturday also would be helpful, one woman said.

Other improvements could include computer stations just for children; a children’s kitchen area; an “imagination station”; more space for the circulation desk, and more space for staff to work.

Programs

When asked what additional programs they would like to see at the library, one woman said she would like to have book clubs available.

Another person said adult daytime programming would be desirable, such as a kitchen where someone could teach home canning methods.

Programs on parenting, Alcohol and Other Drug Addictions, foreign languages, agriculture and sustainability were mentioned as well.

One person said a seed library would be a good addition.

The seed library would stock seeds from heirloom varieties that people could plant at home.

One woman noted that other facilities with seed libraries have asked patrons to donate a portion of the produce raised to local food pantries.

Seed libraries represent a unique library transaction because you check something out but you do not have to bring it back, she said.

Non-traditional items to check out were also put on the list: cake pans; fishing poles; pressure canners to name a few.

One woman noted that as a parent, you probably only need the Elmo cake pan once for a birthday cake, and that it would be nice to be able to borrow one from the library instead of buying it when you are only going to use it once.

Cross-country skis, ice skates and snowshoes were mentioned as possibilities, too, along with daycare kits, science kits, cooking kits and history kits.

Other libraries that have kits available for checkout include books, videos, puppets and other activities, one woman said.

Statistics

Here are some statistics about the Colfax Public Library:

• The Colfax Public Library has been located in the Colfax Municipal Building since 1916.

• In 2000, the Colfax library had 11,456 print books and had 9,698 in 2012. The collection has been trimmed to make more room for audio books and computers, Thompson said.

• In 2000, the library had 521 audio materials but had 1,257 in 2012.

• In 2000, the library had 660 video materials but had 832 in 2012.

• In 2000, the library did not offer any electronic books; in 2012, there were 54,891 electronic books available.

• The total circulation in 2000 was just shy of 18,000; in 2012, the circulation was 30,152.

• The number of children’s materials went from 5,492 in 2000 to 11,437 in 2012.

• The number of adult materials went from 12,444 in 2000 to 18,715 in 2012.

• In 2000, there were 10,000 library visits; in 2012 there were 16,900 library visits.

• In 2000, there was one public computer, and in 2012, there were seven computers available.

• The number of users of public Internet computers was 5,483 in 2012. In 2000, no number is listed for users of public Internet computers, presumably because the Internet was not available at the library then.

• Resident registered library borrowers in 2012 was 528 — or in other words, half the population of Colfax.