An ongoing and happy part of my life has been this small part-time position here at the Town Hall Library. In June, I will celebrate 30 years working here! This led me to think about the library's birthday coming up on May 1st. We will celebrate 50 years of existence in this place! The library itself has endured through highlights and hard times. We've experienced wonderful memories and some losses, but most of all, this library has changed and grown in so many ways!
When we first opened our doors, the entire library fit into one small space, one main room, with an added second floor, even smaller. But we packed a lot into this space! Books and magazines were crammed here and there, in every possible nook and cranny, and eventually on shelves in front of the windows. We had reference materials for schooling, nonfiction for learning, and fiction for dreaming. Everyone was welcome to come and obtain a small green type-written library card - the key that opened the doors to knowledge and travel and fantasies. All for free! I remember coming here as a family to check out books as I pursued my love of reading, in the footsteps of my mother, who always had a book at hand.
The library did outgrow the space and an addition was added through the fund-raising efforts of the Friends of the Town Hall Library and our forward-thinking taxpayers. We added a 3-floor addition, moving the children's area into the main level, periodicals in the lower level (basement), and expanding adult fiction in the upper level. Throughout this time, we grew under the guidance of Betty Schwartzburg, our librarian, adding staff as well as library materials. As times changed, we added video and audio cassette collections. But the biggest life-altering change was the introduction of computers! Everyone had to have a new library card, one that could be used with the computer at the checkout desk. We published a website. We also had a computer station for public use, just a few steps from the desk. A favorite memory of mine is a mother and daughter of about 12 years old who were using that computer. The girl asked her mom if we got paid to work at the library, and when her mom answered "yes," she told her that "we were having way too much fun to get paid!" And yes, we were!
After the turn of the century (really!) we needed to expand again. With the purchase and removal of the house just east of us, we added on a large expansion that was completed in 2009. We all got to live through dust and noise, but most difficult for the staff was having to use a port-a-potty, without electricity, conveniently located out in front of the library. On winter nights, it was dark, cold, and as fast a trip as you could possibly make it! What a delight when the new addition opened up and we had functioning bathrooms again!
This increased space opened up all sorts of possibilities! Our collections could continue to expand, which now include DVDs and CDs in place of videos and cassettes. We added books on CD and playaways. We could make more computers available for public use, and expanded our online card catalog computers from one to four. We added a self-check station, have a digital announcement screen in the foyer, and a presence on Facebook. Our programming has blossomed with the availability of the McBroom Community Room. And the children's area includes a computer bar with 5 additional computers and a private study room. We were fortunate to have landscaping assistance from students from Arrowhead High School, UW-Waukesha, and local scout troops - check out our herb garden, perennial garden, rain gardens, and butterfly garden as they begin to grow again this spring.
In 2014, with a big assist from The Town Hall Library Foundation, we expanded our children's area, adding bathrooms and a new staff area, as well as space. A large screen TV makes it possible to show movies for family time together. We moved the juvenile non-fiction books down to this area. With the support of our Town Hall Library Board, we were able to fully staff this area this year. We have all sorts of wonderful activities planned for the children. For the security of our patrons, we are now adding video cameras to our facility.
Our staff has grown to include our Library Director, Assistant Librarian, Head of Cataloging, User Services Librarian, Circulation Supervisor, Children's Coordinator, Children's Librarian, Young Adult Librarian, Children's Assistant, 10 Circulation Desk Staff, a Custodian, and 4 wonderful pages. All these folks use their talents and skills to do their best to provide the most top-notch service that we can for all our patrons. We continue to grow and change and prepare for the future!
Now we get to celebrate 50 years of serving our community! 50 years of growth and change! 50 years of bringing possibilities to the people we serve! Please come on Sunday, May 1st for our 2 p.m. celebration. We will dedicate our new History Wall and share birthday cake with our patrons. YOU ARE INVITED!