Library turns to patrons as it faces budget cuts
BY VIRGINIA ROBERTS
Rhinelander District Library Director
The Rhinelander District Library is facing budget cuts. We recently posted a survey on the library’s Facebook page asking patrons where the cuts should be made. Below are two comments taken from the survey, followed with my responses.
The first place I went when we moved here was the Y. The second place was the library. The library is an irreplaceable asset to any community. Do not cut funding. This is a terrible option and will diminish the appeal of Rhinelander to people, especially young families, moving to the area. Work on finding people who can write grants, create compelling narratives, strengthen relationships with the townships, research successful small libraries elsewhere and develop unique and fascinating fund-raisers and ELEVATE THE LIBRARY.
There is no way to go back – only forward. Funding has been cut. If citizens do not like how things are being funded, get involved in government. Attend local meetings, run for town boards, city council, county board of supervisors – and other elected positions. The library is constantly writing grants, articles, participating in community events – much of which is done with volunteers (or on staff’s own time). Developing compelling narratives – the library has many. Strengthening relationships with towns? The Board is appointed through the municipalities. The library needs folks like you to speak to them – they have heard what we, the library staff and board are saying.
I fear we are occasionally dismissed as “library supporters” not embraced as constituents. Develop unique and fascinating fundraisers – so on that – but that takes people we no longer have to run them, and volunteers stretched to the max. This is why the Rhinelander District Library Foundation and Friends of the Library are working to grow – for the health of the Rhinelander District Library and the community! Please join them, and encourage others to do so.
Some of the services are available through Nicolet College, like proctoring. Workforce development is also available through Nicolet and the job center. That is why I chose those services.
That’s true, there are other agencies offering workforce development (WFD), but they are also far more intimidating than the library. And Wisconsin’s own agency – with offices just a block and a half away sends folks to Rhinelander District Library (RLD)to take online placement exams, search for work and write resumes and cover letters.
Just last week, WFDWi sent over a hearing-impaired person at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday who clearly needed a facilitator to fill out an online application because they didn’t have the computer skills to do so. While much of the skill instruction is available on Badgerlink or at the college or even at WFD, folks want and require more help – and the library is a place they come to do this, because it is the same place they came to and felt comfortable in since they were littles.
RDL could send them over to Nicolet – if they have transportation, most don’t. And some are terrified of going to a “college” or being shunted to yet another office when, as a person looking for work, they are already in the “system.” This is the case for continuing to offer as the library has in the past, and why it continues to do so in the future. These are the services not everyone uses, but many expect at every library.
The Rhinelander District Library, 106 N. Stevens St., is open Monday–Saturday. To contact Virginia Roberts, call 715-365-1070 or email director@RhinelanderLibrary.org.