Published On: Thu, Jun 1st, 2017

Library continues to grow after renovations

WAUSA — The face of the library, one familiar to Wausa residents for decades, still remains. But a new assembly surrounds that old friendly face for good reason. As the elderly structure of the Wausa Library aged, what did not wane was the community’s need for a Public Library.
“We had no room for new books,” Wendy Ketelsen, assistant librarian, said. “We were putting books in odd spaces because we had no room to grow.”
Renovations have been going on at the Lincoln Lied Township Library in Wausa for a few years now, so it’s been no secret to Wausa residents that changes have been taking place.
“We have a larger computer area, a nice sitting room area with a nice magazine area and TV, and a nice office area – having that work space is wonderful,” Ketelsen said. “We have a genealogy room, which was something we never had before and now we have the meeting room.”
Anyone driving past or taking a stroll by can see the library has received more than a facelift, but what many may not know, is that an evolution has been going on inside the library, too. A constant stream of change that has impacted youth and adults in the community in a positive way.
“After we opened in 2014 we almost doubled our hours,” Ketelsen said. “We have the space now for programs of all types for kids, but for teens and adults as well.”
Library staff are vigilant about making the library more accessible, and hours have increased from 15 per week to 25 per week. In addition to hours, more public access computers have been made available creating an increase of use from 989 users to 2520. The meeting room is also getting its fair share of use. It is available to both non-profit and for profit groups as well as families. Programming uses the room, too.
“Before, we had one program a year which was the summer reading program,” Ketelsen said. “Since we’ve got the new library and all this space, we have Lego club every month, coffee and conversation every month for adults, preschool reading hour, and those are our regular programs.”
There have now been over 95 children’s programs and 38 adult programs, most of which are developed by and put on by library staff. The new space at the library has allowed staff to expand their partnerships.
“We’ve also partnered with Northeast Community College and have had classes made available through them.” Ketelsen said. “Those add to our own educational programs and literacy programs.”
An impressive side effect of the youth programing has been an increase in the circulation of children’s’ reading materials. Records indicate youth materials have circulated at around 3572, compared to just 1682 at the old library. On average, 25 children used to participate in the Summer Reading Program whereas the most recent tabulations show that children were present for programing a jaw dropping 716 times.
“The summer reading program is very important because kids have that lull between school when you don’t want them to go backwards with their reading,” Ketelsen said. “This is why I provide incentives to continue to read.”
Youth participating in the program are eligible for prizes based on how much reading they do throughout the summer, which in turn promotes literacy.
“Reading is so much different than, say, watching TV,” Ketelsen said. “Kids that read books are exposed to so many more words in their vocabulary than they would have other ways.”
The hopes and dreams for library staff are to see a continuation of such great success. Adult programs have gone from zero to 38, with 287 adults in attendance, and 115 more library cards have been issued.
“I’d like to see more people using the library, not necessarily just for the books,” Ketelsen said. “There are so many things the library could be used for. I really see the library as Wausa’s community area.”
The Library acts as a space where community members can come to facilitate their relationships with self, each other, and lifelong learning.
“One of my goals is to get more teens in the library. There is a good study space there and it’s a place for them to hang out in town,” Ketelsen said. “I’d like to see more programing for adults, and see more authors come visit, also.”
As successful as the library has been during this time of transformation, it wouldn’t have been possible without community support.
“We need as much community support as possible because our funds are limited,” Ketelsen said. “To continue on the path, we’d like to go on we are going to need more support.”
There are many ways to contribute to the library.
“It costs money to do all of the things we’d like to do, so without help from community whether financial or via volunteerism, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” Ketelsen said.
Any person interested in volunteering time during children’s programing, providing monetary donations, or furnishing snacks or supplies are encouraged to contact the Friends of the Library grass roots organization at 402-586-2366.
“The community has been really supportive of the summer reading program,” Ketelsen said. “The program runs from June 1st to July 27th.”
Summer reading for youth will be held each Thursday and  Wausa Public School Elementary students will be receiving a packet of information.
For more information on signing up for the summer reading program, contact Wendy at the Library 402-586-2454.