By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — It’s smaller than people originally thought.
Although old records for the Colfax Public Library indicate that the library has a square footage of 1,800 square feet, recent measurements of the library revealed that it is actually 1,246 square feet.
Storage space upstairs may have been included in the library’s original square footage, said Lisa Ludwig, director of the Colfax Public Library, at an open house March 26.
Ludwig said she wanted to hold the open house to talk about programming possibilities if Colfax were to build a new library.
“We wanted to talk about the potential for library programming with a new facility,” she said.
Cake and coffee was available downstairs in the library, and Ludwig held her presentation in the municipal building auditorium.
“A public library is the heart of the community. It is like a community center, a social hub,” Ludwig said.
Libraries provide services to the community for people of all ages, all backgrounds and all ethnic groups, she said.
A public library in Wisconsin is free to all residents of the state, Ludwig noted.
The Colfax Public Library has seven computers for public use.
Computer access is very important to have available, and “where else can you go to get help with computers, with setting up Hotmail and Gmail, and get free help?” she asked.
Recent additions to children’s programming include Lego Club, Game Club, 1,000 Books before Kindergarten — and a therapy dog reading program will be coming soon, Ludwig noted.
The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program will be in conjunction with the Menomonie Public Library, which received an Otto Bremer Foundation grant, she said.
The Colfax kick-off will be in April for 1,000 Books. Children will receive a free book after someone has read 100 books to them, Ludwig explained.
The therapy dog program is called Paws to Read and will feature Sparta, a dog who loves to have children read to him, she said.
“Libraries know that programming is their future,” Ludwig said.
The existing library lacks off-street parking, does not have any public meeting rooms, and has no room for lounging to read and no lobby.
Non-profit organizations call the library looking for meeting space, but the library has nothing available, Ludwig said, adding that there is no public meeting space available in Colfax anywhere that would allow groups to sign up to use a room for free.
Another problem with the existing library is that Ludwig does not have an office. Library staff also do not have an office, and there is no work space.
Consequently, Ludwig cannot make telephone calls that are not within the hearing of library patrons or other staff members.
“Confidentiality is hard … I worry about that,” Ludwig said.
After the votes are counted from the village’s April 7 advisory referendum, votes will be counted from the survey sheets presented at the town hall meeting in February and from the survey sheets available in the Colfax Public Library and the Colfax village clerk’s office.
The Colfax Public Library Board and the Colfax Village Board will look at the survey results and the referendum results “and see where to go from there,” Ludwig said.
Here are some of the programs at other libraries that Ludwig highlighted during her presentation.
• Orfordville Public Library — partners with a child care center.
• North Sioux City Community Library — a community puzzle. A large puzzle is spread out on a large table, and community members work at the puzzle until it is completed.
• River Falls Public Library — has a Peeps diorama contest.
• The Friday Memorial Library in New Richmond — sponsors presentations from Bruce The Bug Guy.
• Viroqua Public Library — has held a program on how to build tiny houses (the kind that use very little space and are energy efficient).
• Suring Public Library — has held a Battle of the Books event.
• Spring Green Public Library — “What’s It Worth?” — an antiques and collectibles event, similar to Antiques Road Show; also holds painting and art classes.
• St. Croix Falls Public Library — holds a film festival.
• Menomonie Public Library — partners with UW-Stout for a computer lab; holds movie nights; hosts the K & C Club (knitters and crocheters).
• Mukwonago Public Library — holds a celtic concert.
• Horicon Public Library — hosts an art show for students.
• Bloomer Public Library — partners with Mayo Clinic for programs, such as healthy snacks and Yoga.
• Hustisford Public Library — holds a Read-a-Thon.
• Patterson Memorial Library (Wild Rose) — has a community center and a shared kitchen, allowing the library to hold cooking classes.