Whitewater Library needs help from friends

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Carla McCann
January 4, 2008
— Space is at a premium in Whitewater’s public library.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to find an empty chair or table that isn’t being used by another patron. It’s also become a challenge for people to find room to spread papers on tables while doing research, said Director Stacey Lunsford.

The cramped conditions are the result of Young Memorial Library keeping pace with the community’s needs.

The library board is planning an addition on the facility at 431 W. Center St. and has bought two adjacent properties on Forest Avenue. The combined cost for the properties was $400,000, which was paid by a number of donations received during the past few years for that purpose.

Now the board is asking for the community’s help in filling seats on committees that will be charged with public relations, helping design the addition and fund-raising activities.

The plan is to start the project this year. After the design plans are done, an architect will determine the cost, Lunsford said.

“When the library was built in 1991, we didn’t have videos,” Lunsford said. “And there was no such thing as DVDs. CDs had just started to be popular.”

The library simply can’t discard its older media, such as videos, because they too are still popular, Lunsford said.

“We’ve tried to fill the demand for all of these different media. In doing that, we’ve run out of room,” Lunsford said.

As a regular library patron, Karen McCulloch has noticed it’s sometimes difficult to find a place to sit or spread out materials, she said.

But McCulloch of Whitewater would never complain.

The library is a dear friend, she said.

“I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t even scratched the surface of what it has to offer,” McCulloch said. “We frequently visit there. All three of my children attend story time sessions. It is a positive influence on my family.”

Libraries are meant to be destinations, not quick marts, Lunsford said.

“People should feel comfortable and a sense of ownership here,” Lunsford said. “They shouldn’t have to rush through because of a lack of room.”

This year will be critical to the future growth and development of the library, said City Manager Kevin Brunner in his weekly report.

Libraries are a neutral, respected gateway to information, a safe “third place,” a space between work and home that offers equal access for all of the community, Brunner said.

He recalls meeting author Alex Hailey, who said that whenever he traveled to other cities, he stopped at a men’s restroom in a gas station on the outskirts of a city to see the type and quality of graffiti on the walls and the public library to see the investment a community has made in literacy and public information, Brunner said.

“I don’t know what the graffiti in the men’s bathrooms might say about Whitewater, but I think that the Young Memorial Library says a lot about our priorities and civic presence,” Brunner said. “What the Young Library becomes in the future will undoubtedly continue to help define our community and provide a go-to place for both young and old alike—both physically and in cyberspace.”

To get involved

Volunteers are needed to serve on committees to assist the Young Memorial Library Board in planning for the future addition on the existing library.

To volunteer or obtain more information, call library Director Stacey Lunsford at (262) 473-0530 or lunsford@mwfls.org.

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