Chapter Four: Room for Everyone
The Story Builder campaign will ensure that the library will be there for people at every stage of life. Toddlers who attend storytime will return to take part in library programs as school-aged kids. They’ll gather there with friends as tweens and teens. It will provide books and other materials for the lean college years, and food for entrepreneurial thought as they enter the job market. Before too long, those same “toddlers” will be back for storytime with their own kids. For the rest of their lives, when they want to develop their potential, share their knowledge, or engage with others, the library will be there for them: all because we are taking action now.
Third Floor Community Room (200 Seats) — This community room will be able to seat twice as many people as the largest community space in the current building. As a result, the library will be able welcome more people to its community-building and lifelong-learning events. It will have built-in audiovisual infrastructure, simplifying the use of equipment, and full accessibility for people with hearing impairments. This room and all the other new community and meeting rooms will be available for use by the public—at no charge—when not in use by library staff, subject to the library’s policies.
Front Entrance Atrium — The atrium will provide a safe place for library customers to wait for a ride and meet up with friends and family. It will also provide the opportunity to redesign in such a way that staff assistance isn’t required to take the public elevator to the lower level, and create a more efficient and open floor plan that will improve staff’s ability to monitor security in the area. The current pedestrian bridge from the Eau Claire Street sidewalk over the lower level parking area is in serious disrepair, so an enclosed entrance atrium will not only replace this failing structure, but protect the new structure from the elements.
More rooms for study and tutoring — The current building has two study rooms which community members also use for group meetings, job interviews, and tutoring. An expanded library will more than double the number of study rooms.
Expanded intergenerational hands-on learning lab (aka makerspace) — The Dabble Box makerspace has proven to be extremely popular with library customers, so much so that librarians are sometimes forced to turn users away because of capacity limits. More space is desperately needed to meet the demand for the lab’s equipment and programming, which helps people gain and improve STEAM skills. The lab provides access to equipment that many people would not otherwise be able to afford, like the popular 3D printer.
Youth Services Programming Room (200 Seats) — The expanded youth programming room will eliminate overcrowding and prevent children and their families from being turned away to comply with fire regulations.
Library of Things — The library currently offers a collection of tools, technology, musical instruments, and craft kits to check out. Demand for these kits is high, and customers are always making new and excellent suggestions for additions to the collection. Space is needed to house these materials.
As a young refugee child living in Eau Claire in the 1980s, the library was our haven. It was a safe place filled with wonderful artifacts and comfortable chairs to sit in. My sisters and I would walk six blocks from our house to the library to get lost in the stories of a world we only saw in books. At first, we could not read so we looked at the pictures and used our own words to tell the story. This motivated me to learn how to read as I fingered each word pretending I knew what it said to me. As we approached intermediate and middle school, my sisters and I would run to the library often to read and check out books to bring home. Since we did not have many books of our own, the library allowed us to have a continuous supply of new books and stories to enjoy. My parents were thrilled that we were able to get books for free to use at home. We would play school with the books we checked out and pretend to be teachers reading to our younger siblings.
Years later, I would come to see the public library as the great equalizer for those who are marginalized in our community. Without the public library I would not have learned about the FAFSA and how to apply to college, without the library, I would not have had access to a computer so I could look up different colleges I wanted to apply to. Without the library and its vast store of books, I would not be able to read about becoming someone. Every community should have a vibrant public library to teach, to guide, and to lift the spirits of those who are less fortunate in our community.