Neuenschwander: Monroe Library about more than books


Quick questionnaire. Name five services offered at the Monroe Public Library.

Of course, the easiest are books, computers, and the Internet. But give yourself a gold star if you name two organizations located in the building itself: the Literacy Council of Green County and the Green County Genealogical Society.

Both are long-time library partners. Both are widely used. And both have sorely exceeded the space allotted to them. When the time came to consider updating the 25-year-old facility, the two were in the mix for the necessary renovations.

“Our partners fit in well with what we have built at the library,” said Suzann Holland, director of the library. “We can’t imagine planning renovations without including ways to facilitate service to their customers. “

However, renovations come at a price and even basic structural changes add up, especially in a building as large as the library. A fundraising campaign to raise $ 1.5 million – “Let’s do something amazing for Monroe” – is now underway, and Holland said the response has been overwhelming.

The Literacy Council actually started in the library almost 25 years ago with its mission to empower “adult learners with the English language, one word at a time”. Volunteer tutors offer one-on-one learning as well as occasional group lessons.

Managing Director Karin Monzon Krimmer knows the importance of advice; she was once a learner herself.

“With the support of the library, we have been able to provide a safe and confidential space for anyone wishing to learn English,” she said.

The Literacy Council is currently operating in a small space on the second floor of the library, tucked away near the meeting room at the front of the building. The area is large enough for a table and six chairs; sometimes up to a dozen participants attend an event.

“It will be better if we have a bigger space and more privacy, because sometimes learners and tutors are distracted,” Krimmer said. “Closing and opening the elevator or people using the bathroom or just people curious about what’s going on can be big distractions. “

With the proposed renovations, the Literacy Council would move its operations to the other end of the second floor and include offices, housing for its collection of learning resources, additional tutoring space, and priority use of a new room. conference room on the second floor.

“A bigger space would help them live out their mission to the full,” Holland said.

The Green County Genealogical Society was formed in 2001 to bring together family researchers interested in their ancestry, to copy cemeteries in the area, and to stimulate interest in genealogy. The organization has been located on the lower level of the library since 2012.

What seemed like a large space at first turned out to be insufficient as the resource collections grew. Space-saving mobile shelves were purchased in 2019, but space is still tight. Ginny Gerber, President of the Society, acknowledged that members are “very creative in finding space for whatever we would like to make available to the public for their family research.”

In addition to space issues, there are water issues in the main room and outdated toilets with gaping holes in the walls.

“The bathroom is embarrassing to send our visitors,” Gerber said. “So we are eagerly awaiting a refurbished toilet. “

Other renovations include refurbishing the lobby outside of the lower level elevator, adding a storage room adjacent to the main room, and installing a display case in the lower level lobby. .

“Renovations are badly needed, especially the water issues when it comes to historical documents,” Holland said. “And the toilets are really old fashioned.

“Our campaign is going well, but we are not quite finished,” she said. “The library is where Monroe’s children learn the value of lifelong learning. We want it to be the best it can be. “

Krimmer echoed these thoughts.

“Libraries are not an expense,” she said. “Libraries are an investment.

Powerful words.

– Gary Neuenschwander is on the campaign committee for the Monroe Public Library’s “Let’s Do Something Extraordinary For Monroe” Project.

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