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Library of the Month: Schreiner Memorial Library

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Library of the Month is a celebration of Wisconsin libraries compiled by the BadgerLink team.

This past fall, the Schreiner Memorial Library in Lancaster finally saw the completion of a renovation project that was 10 years in the making.  The BadgerLink team is highlighting the Schreiner Memorial Library as February’s Library of the Month as both congratulations for the new library and recognition of the patience and work that went into making the project happen!

Schreiner Memorial Library Schreiner Memorial Library

Lancaster has Grant County’s first public library, started in 1902 by the Lancaster Women’s Club. In 1911, the library moved from its downtown location to a house on Ryland Park donated to the City by George Ryland for the specific purpose of housing the town’s library. In 1957, that house was replaced by a new library built in the prairie style made popular by Frank Lloyd Wright. Funds for that library building were largely donated by Emma Schreiner, a long-time library board member and library supporter. The new library was named after her and has since been known as the Schreiner Memorial Library. There was an addition in 1982, and more recently a major renovation and expansion which was completed in the fall of 2015.    

The recently completed building project was in the works for well over 10 years. The library board officially announced their plan for a new library in 2005 and started work toward that goal. The first iteration of the library included a coffee shop, the Chamber of Commerce Offices, and the Grant County Historical Society on a large two story building with a price tag of just over $6 million. Fundraising had just started in 2008 when the economy took a downturn and money stopped coming in. The project was then put on hold. In 2012, Durrant Architects was dissolved and the project went to FEH Design, who helped trim the project back to just include the essential library facility expansion and the outdoor band shell, which will be used (amongst others) by the Community Band for their summer concerts. The new price tag was $3.6 million, and fundraising began again. The City of Lancaster pledged $1 million and to date, the Lancaster Public Library Foundation has raised over $2 million in private pledges and donations to fund the building.

Staff and stakeholders gather for the ribbon cutting. Staff and stakeholders gather for the ribbon cutting.

Since the renovation and expansion meant taking down ¾ of the building, the library moved the whole collection and all furnishings into a vacant building which was owned by the City and was previously a furniture store. From May 2014 to September 2015, 75% of the library’s collection was in storage and there was no programming space and limited computer access.  The library was moved to and from that temporary facility entirely by the library staff and a large contingent of supportive volunteers including the local high school sports teams who hauled a majority of the boxed books, young children who carried the board book collection the three blocks in their wagons, and many many more.

The newly renovated and expanded Schreiner Memorial Library has over 10,000 square feet on the main floor. It has an 87-person Community Room which can be split in half, and it includes a kitchen. There are built in display cases for the Historical Society and for a rotating art collection.

Circulation and visitor counts in the four months of operation have more than doubled the numbers from previous years, and programming opportunities have been exponentially higher now that there’s a dedicated space for programs and events.  The library has continued many of its popular programs and services and looks forward to more collaborations like the WIC (Women, Infant, and Child) Clinics that now take place each month right inside the library.

Congratulations are in order for the Schreiner Memorial Library, for the Lancaster community, and for all those involved in the building project!