It’s hard to believe that this January marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of the “new” Reedsburg Public Library at 370 Vine Street. Though the library’s physical move was short — he library’s collections were moved from the historic Carnegie Library on the north side of Vine Street; the change represented lengthy efforts on the part of library director Sue Steiner, city officials, fundraisers, donors and volunteers to make the dream a reality.
The campaign for a new library began in the early 1990s with a space study encouraged by city council member Dick Roloff that overwhelmingly pointed to the construction of a new facility. A fundraising effort launched in 1995 by James Pawlisch and Hayden Groy would eventually garner $880,000 in pledges, enough to cover over half the cost of the $1.5 million building.
On Jan. 10, 1998, in frigid temperatures, 225 volunteers moved over 1,000 books in a human chain from the old Carnegie library across the street to the new facility. Two weeks later, 1,200 people were in attendance when the new library officially opened with a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony. The new building boasted more space for collections, as well as quiet study areas, room for public use computers, and a community meeting room. Director Sue Steiner commented at the time that communities of similar size with a new library saw a 33 percent increase in usage of their collection and building.
Today the library continues to offer study rooms and computers, meeting and community rooms, equipment rental, technology assistance, proctoring, and a wide variety of other reference services. The library collection has grown to well over 105,000 items, including books, magazines, audio CDs, DVDs, digital audio books and more. In 2016, the library welcomed 204,576 visitors. Among those visitors were just over 16,000 program attendees, as well as area residents who checked out more than 266,000 items.
In the years at 370 Vine, the library has embraced emerging technologies, including the addition of wireless access for patrons using their own computers, the addition of digital books and databases and the training of staff to assist patrons with a multitude of online resources. The library has adjusted the collections, technology and programming spaces to meet the needs of our users and the community. Current Director Sue Kucher said, “As we look back on all of the changes that have taken place in our world and our community over the past two decades, the role of the library as a community hub has remained a constant. I look forward to seeing the library’s role as a community gathering place and resource expand with our community in the next 20 years.”
In the coming month, please join the library in celebrating its 20th anniversary. Stop in to sign up for a card, check out a book or magazine or join in a library program. Take a moment to share a memory of the first time you visited the library or to take a look around to see all that the library has to offer. You can always visit online at reedsburglibrary.org for the library’s events calendar or a link to the online catalog.