On May 1, the doors of the Watertown library will close in order for the library to be remodeled. On that same day, through May 3, volunteers will help staff move books and furniture out of the library so that contractors can begin work the following week.
What will happen during the month of May in the Watertown Library is a combination of recarpeting, painting, rewiring, increasing lighting capacity, and rewiring computer cabling to allow for more computer connections. What will also happen is the transformation of space to meet the needs of Watertown.
“The need for more computers is what we keep hearing about from our patrons,” said long-time library circulation assistant Jan Nester.
Librarian Kristin Jones agreed, but added, “People still also want that special place for their children where their children can first experience the joy of reading.”
The challenge of transforming a space, without increasing its square footage is difficult. Every inch of space has to be well utilized in order to increase the number of computers without decreasing the children’s room or the adult leisure reading section or the teen area. That called for flexibility.
“Everything on wheels: That’s our new mantra,” Jones said.
Tables and even chairs are on wheels in order to create an area that’s being called an Open-Air Meeting Room, which can easily morph from a lounge area to a study room to a book group discussion area. The children’s bins are on wheels to increase the children’s area when programming is held. New flexible magazine storage holds more magazines in a smaller space. Pullout shelving allow for browsability while taking up less space. In addition, for student team projects and others working together, the collaboration stations provide an excellent resource to the community.
All this is happening through the generosity of the City of Watertown, Carver County and many, many generous local donors. In fact, the fundraising campaign continues.
“We have three phone nights set up next week to remind folks about the remodel and, hopefully, remind them to stop by the library and pick up a donation form,” said Nick Dimassis, Carver County Library Director. “Every dollar counts!”
Jim May of Marketplace Foods is donating $1 dollar for each bag of Sunsoft water softener salt purchased through the remainder of April. Just tell the cashier it’s a Library Fundraiser purchase.
“The library is not just an educational asset,” May said, “it’s an economic asset. It’s good for business. People want to live in communities that provide opportunities for their families. I’m glad I can help.”
Roger Roy of Roy Custom Homes is the general contractor for the project and he and each of his sub-contractors are donating labor.
“It’s just a great way to give back to the community,” Roy said.
Creating a space that would best serve the residents of Watertown was of utmost concern, Dimassis noted.
“We needed to look at what Watertown patrons needed, not just at the money we had in hand,” Dimassis said. “It’s been absolutely wonderful to sit down with individuals and families in Watertown and hear what they wanted — what they needed — from their library.”
Dimassis said many people were wiling to step up and support their library’s future with a donation. All were happy to have their voices heard.
“I’ve loved every minute of it, every second,” Dimassis said. “I think this is just the beginnings of the talks. I want people to feel comfortable calling me and having a say in library service. We’re still in the middle of the fundraising campaign, but the communication piece is vital and that will go on long after this campaign is over. I want to be available and approachable for everyone in the county.”
A major letter campaign by the Friends of the Library was undertaken in March as was also the in-house $5-A-Heart Campaign.
“It was amazing to see the number of donations made to the campaign by individuals who felt the library was their living room, and they wanted it to look wonderful,” Branch manager Heidi Hoks said.
In fact, there were special items added to the library because of that. The River City Theatre Company is building a puppet stage to encourage young children to explore their theatrical side. An Art Wall was added to the library from a memorial from the family and friends of Jan Bender. Local artwork will be displayed so that everyone in the community can enjoy the talent within Watertown.
Of course, the addition of many new computers was the need voiced most often by the public.
“So often, people would come into the Watertown Library, see all the computers occupied and walk out the door. In fact, we would see some of these people drive down to our Waconia and Norwood Young America branches,” noted Circulation Supervisor Cindy Lowe. “We want to provide our Watertown patrons with the same services we provide at our other libraries. They deserve stellar service and that’s what we plan to give them.”
Collaboration is the new buzz word as people work together on projects, whether they be students or adults. Two Collaboration Stations will be installed as well. These innovative stations have two computer screens, one keyboard, and two mice to allow two people to work together for training, programs, and projects.
“The Collaboration Stations will be unique to Watertown,” Hoks said. “We expect requests from our other branches to have similar stations installed once their success is established here. Watertown is leading the way!”
Need to find out about events? The library will open with a digital signage board listing local library events as well as system-wide opportunities. The vestibule on Lewis Street will also increase its bulletin board space for community events.
If enough money is raised in the fundraising campaign, the library will also have iPads for inhouse use. People will be able to learn how to use iPads or simply read issues from one of the 50 electronic magazines to which Watertown residents will now have access. Even if iPads are not available, the e-zines will be available from the computers.
The library will also retain its WiFi for the public use, but the bandwidth will be increased with the coming activation of the fiber ring. People bringing in their own devices will be able to sit and enjoy high speed access as they do work, communicate with friends or check out e-books and e-zines from the library collection!
In addition to all that, the Watertown Lions and all the Friends groups in Chanhassen, Chaska and Waconia have donated money to be used for a collection of new books and DVDs for the public when the doors open again at the library. With Carver County Library exceeding one million circulations for its fourth year in a row, collection materials remain a priority.
If you are still thinking of contributing to the library fundraising campaign, there are contribution cards available at the library as well as an inhouse “Heart” campaign. You may also contact the Carver County Library Director Nick Dimassis directly at 612-418-1864.
Some things never go high-tech: If you’re interested in helping with the move out and/or the move back in, contact the library at 952-955-2939 for information or to sign up.