By Virginia Roberts, RDL Director
Special to the Star Journal
Memorial Day, and the clock starts ticking. Ninety days of summer—less really-and pretty soon things happen, weekend trips and staycations are planned and traveled, and then, it’s August.
It’s August. And I’m wondering what happened to summer. You probably are, too. Let me run an outline past you of what happened at Rhinelander District Library (RDL) over the summer.
Memorial Day, computer upgrades, RHS graduation, SRP kickoff, author events, ALA in Chicago, Buck Lake Bash, staycations, vacations, monsoons, meetings, smaller professional conferences, presentations, graduation parties, weddings, Worm Race, summer colds, School of the Arts, more author events, Oneida County Fair, another wedding, a solar eclipse and Labor Day.
What does that list of activities MEAN? What does any of it mean? It means the Rhinelander District Library does a lot more in the community than you might know of, as one of our High School Key Club members told me while volunteering for School of the Arts. RDL, as many libraries do, serve as much of the community as possible, all ages, in very profound ways. Everyone is welcome to come to the public library—visitors, snowbirds and residents alike.
Sometimes, the library comes to you and Rhinelander District Library does this with weekly outreach to senior and assisted living facilities and school and daycares. Also, RDL is in the community in collaborations with other organizations such as Art Start for the School of the Arts Legacy Writer’s Retreat Program which concluded Aug. 6. This allowed the library to host two more author events – including Mr. Jerry Apps. And onto the solar eclipse on the 21st – don’t forget to pick up your free viewing glasses, or stop by to see the full eclipse live – streamed via nasa.gov.
Library staff gathers ideas from everywhere – other libraries, big conferences and small (there are still plenty of Advance Reader Copies available to review), brainstorming among staff and colleagues, and from meetings with municipal partners and community members. RDL’s management team attends meetings to inform our community what the library is doing, as in the two weeks after school let out when the library was running simultaneous adult, teen and children’s programming with an author event, a Friends of the Library Birthday Party, a dessert contest, a crafternoon and a historic re-enactor and storyteller for adults and teens, crafts for the kids and summer games outside, among other things. All summer long, the library has hosted activities for Summer Reading Program – transforming desserts or books into sculptures or other visual art, puzzles, painting and coloring on bottles and zentangles, games and international food taste tests (this month is India). All to build a better world. Many of these made possible with grants—through the Northern Arts Council and the Rhinelander District Library Foundation and hosted by our Friends of the Library volunteers and staff.
Why do staff and volunteers do this? Well, it’s very simple, really. We’re all part of this community too. The graduations I mentioned happened the day of the computer upgrades, which you may notice in the wifi and public computer software; so I split my time on that very stormy day between the library and graduation. Our graduating seniors, two pages and one volunteer, were involved extra-curriculars like sports, theater, service organizations and professional groups. They all have jobs in addition to school and activities. They all were awarded scholarships. And all graduated with honors. We proudly attended graduation parties of these students and their classmates—all library users. Several staff were involved in the Oneida County Fair, this year and in the past. At least one library staff member had a family wedding in town (with several out of town) and the cake was delicious. The whole library community worked to bring School of the Arts back to Rhinelander along with ArtStart and other Legacy Program partners and grantors. Library staff travel to all parts of the community and beyond to share our library stories with service organizations, press, area groups such as Forward Rhinelander or Head Start, or help facilitate our Parks Task Force, and the like, on topics about which we are passionate – library related, surely—but also about our community. There is not just one wizard behind the curtain here at the library. As a not-for profit public good—the library uses all resources at its disposal to feature the best of what we, Rhinelander and Oneida County, have to offer.
So, if you haven’t been to your library lately, RDL needs your help. Please visit and see everything you’re missing. If there’s something you’d like to see or see more of, tell us. If you are able to visit RDL, or if the outreach comes to you, tell your library story—to your local municipal, Oneida, Wisconsin and Federal representatives. While librarians love to hear how important this library is to you and our community, those who allocate funding need to hear it, because sometimes, they don’t have the time to see for themselves.
“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” Ray Bradbury
Thank you for your assistance and support. See (and hear from) you soon!