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Viewpoint: Starting the referendum conversation

By Tiffany Meyer, Ellsworth Library Director

On July 9, the Ellsworth Village Board approved placement of a non-binding referendum regarding library space on the Nov. 6 ballot. The referendum is intended to gauge community support of the Village of Ellsworth borrowing up to $3 million to create additional public library space in the village.

The Ellsworth Public Library Building/Space Committee is working on creating some materials that will help answer the questions this has raised, namely "Why is there a need for additional public library space?" and "How much will it cost?" Please look for these materials to be available in late August or early September.

In the meantime, I can share with you that roughly half of the EPL programs are held off-site due to lack of space in the library. The library receives calls on a regular basis with requests to book a meeting room. Tutors meet with students, job coaches and charitable organizations meet with clients, individuals Skype for job interviews — normally private matters that happen in the open space of the library because it is a neutral safe space with free Wi-Fi. Ideally, the library could offer meeting rooms and quiet study rooms to better serve the community.

I can also share with you that the library's collection is falling short considering the size of the service population. The collection size of print, audio and video materials at the end of 2017 totaled 24,886. According to the Wisconsin Public Library Standards, the Ellsworth Public Library should house 30,294 items to provide a basic level of service, 37,868 for a moderate level of service, 45,441 for an enhanced level, and 63,954 to achieve an excellent level of service. The library strives to keep some open space on each shelf, but a quick look around will make it clear that the recommended 25 percent of open shelf space is not the norm here. At the moment, large print fiction and juvenile nonfiction shelves are packed end-to-end.

Given that, it's a balancing act trying to maintain a collection that serves the community. In addition to the usual items ordered, nine new Playaway Launchpad educational tablets were added this summer, as well as jigsaw puzzles. Stop on by and check them out!

Coming up:

• Aug. 12 — Watch for the book cart drill team in the EFD Community Parade!

• Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. — Tech for Seniors with Barb Krueger of Krueger Solutions

• Aug. 29 at 1:30 p.m. — Brother Music, Sister Rhythm western swing duo

• Photography by Cathy Skoula on display through August

For more information about upcoming programs and available services, visit the Ellsworth Public Library at 312 W. Main St., call 715-273-3209, find us on Facebook, or see the library's website at For information on the history of the Building/Space Committee, see the Building/Space Needs tab at the bottom of the library website.