Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mystery Solution: Monona Public Library Named Wisconsin Library of the Year

Drum roll, please.

What now seems like an eternity ago, Monona Public Library Board President Andrew Taylor sent along the thrilling news that the Wisconsin Library Association has selected the Monona Public Library for the 2010 "Library of the Year" award. Andrew likes to talk about the importance of aspiring to great things and this is a great thing.

The award will be presented during the 2010 WLA Annual Conference, November 2-5, at the Kalahari Resort. Excerpts from Andrew's comments:

The award recognizes excellence, service, and innovation, which our extraordinary team has shown in great abundance over the past many years. A wonderful recognition, well deserved.
My warm congratulations to Erick and the super-human staff, not only for their part in building this reputation alongside Demita, but also for their uncanny ability to maintain such high standards of service in the face of such extraordinary challenge. Many thanks also to Ed Van Gemert, his team on the board, and the staff who helped prepare such a compelling nomination (the WLA representative couldn't say enough nice things about that application).
We already know amongst ourselves what a jewel we have in the Monona Public Library. It will be a great joy to share that knowledge with the rest of the state!


I was asked to write a letter supporting the nomination. Here is an excerpt:

This wonderful staff whipped our general collection into shape….in particular by updating the children’s collection and creating new special collections in sustainability and health & wellness.

Highly motivated staff members have also made huge improvements in young adult programming. Monona has long been known for its children’s programming, but YA circulation was nothing special and YA programming almost nonexistent. Young adult circulation has soared, YA programming has blossomed and – no kidding – teenagers are coming to the library for library programs….

Movies for adults are offered through a Foreign & Art Film Series

The Book a Librarian program ….

…the library’s outstanding children’s programming including Preschool and Toddler Storytimes, the Summer Reading Program, the R.E.A.D. program, and special National Children's Book Week programming.

The Monona Public Library has also steadily improved its web presence with Web Pages for Kids: Books and Authors, free access for Monona residents to Tutor.com, and the Good Reads program to name a few.

And I have not even mentioned the successful fund-raising drive to endow the innovative (there’s that word again) Booked for Life program.

And while all these things have been happening, the library’s circulation has increased by solid double digits.


A few words for those of you who might be groaning that the 'mystery news' isn't a wonderful new store coming to share the wonderfulness of Monona. While I'd love to welcome some of the places mentioned on this blog and in Sunny's recent column (I'd add a Borders or Barnes & Noble to my wishlist), think about what this truly remarkable award says about our city, what we value, and what we are willing to spend our precious public and private treasure on. I recall former city administrator Kevin Brunner saying years ago that the first place he checks out in a city is the library because that will tell you a great deal about what that community values.

This award is a really big deal. There are something like 480 public libraries in the state and our library has been named the library of the year - not for a region of the state or a population size, but for the entire state of wisconsin, from Green Bay to Beetown, Mt. Pleasant to Pokegama, Monroe to Bayfield and everywhere in between.

Kudos Monona, kudos all around: to the late Demita Gerber, interim director Erick Plumb, the great staff, the volunteers, Mayor Robb Kahl and city council (pat-pat-pat), the Friends of the Library, the Madison Community Foundation, the Monona Public Library Foundation, the library board and the patrons; and to former director John DeBacher's long tenure built the base that created the possibility of this acheivement. (I'm beginning to feel like Sally Fields at the Oscars here).

A special kudos must be extended to past Board Presidents Dick Gregory, Harold Polzer, and especially Mary O'Connor and current President Andrew Taylor. Being Library Board President is a demanding job and the pay is even worse than city council (none!).


By the way, this award is still technically a secret so - shhhhhh - keep your voices down. Why then did I post the news? I couldn't take the secrecy anymore. It was also in danger of becoming the worst kept secret in town and I could not live the chance that Sunny would scoop me on my own mystery.

It has been interesting and fun reading people's hopes - aspirations - for our community. In my opinion, this news outdistances all the guesses (except for the tunnel under Lake Monona to the Great Dane, although I would have made it a comuuter train tunnel!). Library Board member Ben Redding referred to it as Monona Doug's Monona Rag moment......

1 comment:

  1. Wat great news! An honor well deserved. It IS the best library in the state.