I learned an important life lesson when I was a small child that I want to relay.
It was springtime in Wisconsin. One evening my parents, brother and I were invited to a neighboring farm, the home of Tommy and Bessie Dick, a retired farm couple who lived next door.
Roads back then were not like they are today, and in the springtime it was common for a car to get mired in the mud. So, we all climbed on board my Dad’s Farmall tractor, two kids hanging onto the wheel shields (Certainly wouldn’t have met current child restraint standards!) and Mom planting her feet on the draw bar.
My mother also brought along a box that contained a birthday cake for Tommy, which she somehow also rested on the draw bar. Trip accomplished, we all climbed down from the tractor. But there was one small accident; my brother stepped into the box with the cake
All’s well that ends well. The evening was like other visits—greetings, conversation, lunch, and goodbyes. But the thing I remember from that particular evening, other than what happened with the cake, was what Tommy said about the cake! He said: “That was the best stepped-on birthday cake I ever had!” He made the best of things, and in the process, let my brother know it was OK.
Washington County library users and library staff, as well, are experiencing disappointment, but to a much greater extent than just losing the ambience of a perfect birthday cake.
Because of a reduction in funding, branch libraries in Lake Elmo, Marine and Newport have been closed. Three library employees have been laid off. Washington County Library branches are now closed on Sundays and Mondays. And the budget for purchasing library materials has been reduced.
But, like Tommy Dick, library staff and library users are making the best of the situation. We know that in this age of electronic resources—with our online catalog, with online databases, with eBook and eAudiobook downloads, a lot of library business can be accomplished using our website. Library users are becoming familiar with the new hours schedule and planning their visits to coincide with open hours.
To preserve library service for their residents, the cities of Marine and Newport have opted for Library Express service, a new method of library service first tried by the city of Hugo in 2010. In all three locations, lockers and a book return placed at the city hall allow users to pick up and return library materials 24/7. The cities of Marine and Newport are also setting up community reading rooms for their citizens.
The library is living within its budget, as the times dictate. And staff members are adjusting to new schedules and, in some instances new work locations, to provide the best library service possible. We are hoping residents will say: “It’s the best down-sized library system a resident could ask for.”
—Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. You can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.