Ludwig outlines vision for programming at Colfax Public Library
By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The possibilities are nearly endless.
And now that Lisa Ludwig, director of the Colfax Public Library, has submitted her resignation, she would like the Colfax Public Library Board and residents in the library’s service area to be thinking about possibilities for library programs to help the new director get started in the job.
Ludwig turned in her resignation last month, and her last day as director of the Colfax library will be December 31.
The Colfax Public Library Board met December 2 to discuss compensation for Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt as the interim director, the job posting for Ludwig’s position and Ludwig’s vision for the future.
The Indianhead Federated Library System, which includes the Colfax library, has had 12 library directors either retire or resign this year, Ludwig noted.
Many of those who resigned are moving onto better jobs, she said.
One thing that’s certain is IFLS has never had this many directors leaving at one time, Ludwig said.
The Indianhead Federated Library System includes Polk, Barron, Rusk, Price, St. Croix, Dunn, Chippewa, Pierce, Pepin and Eau Claire counties.
Dunn County has four libraries: Colfax, Boyceville, Sand Creek and Menomonie.
Ridgeland recently opened a “reading room,” and the library in Elk Mound is a satellite branch of the Menomonie Public Library.
With directors leaving, and the additions of programming and technology, “libraries are where the jobs are,” Ludwig said.
The Colfax Public Library already has a children’s librarian — Jolene Albricht — who works 15 hours per week on storytime and other programming for youngsters.
If the Colfax library were in a position to expand the hours for the children’s librarian, Colfax could have more than one storytime for more than one age group, Ludwig said.
Since the public library added a children’s librarian, the number of children participating in summer reading has doubled, she said.
For example, Ludwig said, the summer reading program used to draw about 25 youngsters, but now the summer reading program generally has 50 or more.
The suggestions for programming and services, Ludwig noted, would require that the Colfax library actually have more space available than what exists now.
A “youth maker space” would be great addition to the Colfax library, she said.
A “maker space” is an area that includes a variety of materials that allow children to use their imaginations to make things (sort of like a craft table).
A maker space might be particularly welcomed by parents with young children, because the children could be occupied in a safe activity in a safe place, giving parents a few minutes to find books or use other library services.
Non-traditional collections for “tweens” and children are another suggestion. Additional computer work stations with educational software applications would be beneficial for both younger and older children. And including more arts and culture in programs would be worthwhile as well, Ludwig said.
Adding play stations would appeal to younger children, she said.
The Colfax library’s newest play station is a kitchen.
The library could also collaborate with area businesses and build partnerships, Ludwig said.
Perhaps businesses in town would be willing to donate materials for programs or provide other resources, she said.
The library could also participate in Read On Wisconsin, Ludwig said.
The Read On Wisconsin website contains book suggestions for particular age groups and also includes questions to generate discussion about the books.
According to the website: “Read On Wisconsin (ROW) is a state-wide literacy program, administered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, that promotes high-quality books for children and teens. Each month features one or more Read On Wisconsin titles for children and teens in five different age-level groups.
“ROW is a great way to connect children and teens in the state with terrific books and with each other. The goal of ROW is to encourage children and teens to think and to talk about what they are reading, or what is being read to them.”
Teens in the Colfax area are in particular need of programming at the library, Ludwig said.
“We’ve lost the teens,” she said.
The existing space at the Colfax Public Library does not have space for students to come in, sit down and do research, read or study, Ludwig said.
More adult services also would be a benefit for the community and for the library, Ludwig said.
Arts and cultural offerings would be a great addition to the library. The film series, for example, has started to generate more interest from adults, she said.
Speakers and authors are popular with adult patrons, too, but the problem is finding space where the speakers and authors can do presentations, Ludwig noted.
The Colfax Municipal Building auditorium has sufficient space available, but the auditorium is not handicapped accessible.
Increasing book club membership would be another good goal for the library, Ludwig said.
Offering a “tech Tuesday” or “tech Thursday” would be helpful as well when a staff member is available to answer questions about technology and to assist library patrons with technology, such as help in setting up a G-mail account or posting to a Facebook page, she said.
If more computers and more space were available, the library could also coordinate volunteer teachers to teach computer classes, Ludwig said.
In addition, the library could coordinate a community calendar that would include activities for the school, the village, the public library and non-profit organizations.
Other projects for the library could include wireless printing, genealogy resources, study areas or reading areas for adults, displays areas for books or special collections, social events such as “after hours” for businesses or other groups, a community meeting room, and time management software for the library’s computers so that library users do not tie up the public computers for hours at a time, Ludwig said.
Internet access can be difficult to obtain or is non-existent in some rural areas, so people who want to get online but do not have Internet access at home have no choice but to use the online access at the library, she noted.
The Colfax Public Library Board should be thinking about the library’s space needs for the next ten or 20 years, Ludwig said.
The library has been “maxed out” on space for years, she said.
The library board could research alternative locations for the library that already exist that could be remodeled to accommodate the library, Ludwig said.
The library board could appoint a building committee to research existing space or to discuss possibilities for a new location, she said.
Following the advisory referendum on the ballot last April, Ludwig said she had very much hoped the Colfax Village Board would be interested in continuing the discussion about the library.
Instead of realizing that the majority of the people who voted in the advisory referendum, and those who responded to surveys who live in the library’s service area but are outside of the village, wanted to see “something done,” the village board abruptly dropped the issue, Ludwig said.
“After the advisory referendum, we should have continued talking. Talking is free. It doesn’t cost any money,” she said.
The Colfax Public Library also will have to plan for increasing the circulation, Ludwig said.
In other business, the Colfax Public Library Board:
• Approved a motion to pay the interim library director $13 per hour.
• Approved three days of sick leave for the interim library director. In her current position, Bragg-Hurlburt does not receive any benefits except payments into the Wisconsin Retirement System.
• Approved a job notice for the library director’s position. Ludwig said she would begin submitting the job posting to a variety of venues the following week. The annual salary range for the library director’s position will be $34,000 ($16.35 per hour) to $40,000 ($19.23 per hour). The application deadline will be January 12.
The Colfax Public Library Board meets next in the Colfax Public Library on January 13 at 5:30 p.m.