The Library of the Month is a celebration of Wisconsin libraries compiled by the BadgerLink team.
Last year, the Brown County Library website was #2 in referrals from a Wisconsin public library to the BadgerLink website. We were curious about what they were doing in their library and discovered that great things are happening in the Green Bay area!
The Brown County Library (BCL) has seen massive change in the last year, facility updates among the most obvious. The director, Brian Simons, and the board have put together a Facilities Master Plan which maps out building needs over the next 10 years. In April, the Southwest branch saw the completion of an expansion which included a meeting room, community living room area, computer area, and “think tanks,” glass study rooms that can be reserved for small groups. Current projects for the Central library include renovating the meeting rooms and the 300 seat auditorium, as well as a redesign of the parking lot to add 10 spaces and motorcycle parking. Additionally, all library branches will receive new furniture by the end of 2016.
BCL has 9 locations and a bookmobile but there are still portions of Brown County that are “underserved,” meaning there is a lack of library service or an inability to get to library service. The Master Plan also addresses underserved populations in Brown County with discussions of several other branch expansions or renovations. And with the popularity of self-serve, staff-less, services like RedBox, BCL is interested in exploring express stations, similar to those in Milwaukee.
Another exciting step forward is a partnership with Proto, a non-profit makerspace organization in the area. The library was looking for a tenant to fill some office space in the Central library. The contract signed in April allows Proto to pay for the space with in-kind services and a percentage of their revenue as rent until they earn enough revenue to pay monetary rent in full. Proto will provide 6 programs throughout the year and a yearlong project of a to-scale model of downtown of Green Bay.
When creating the model of Green Bay, Proto will instruct library users on how to use CNC router machines, 3D Printers, RFID technology, and teach programming skills with Arduino and Raspberry Pi. The yearlong project will allow patrons to learn how to use technology with practical uses in a hands-on, unintimidating environment. Once library users are comfortable with the programming, engineering, and design tools, they will create their own projects in the Proto workshop. Another exciting part of the project will bring together technology and local history. Proto will create an augmented reality tour of the city using the library’s local history collection and the Neville Public Museum which includes over 50,000 photographs of historic Green Bay.
Brown County is rapidly changing and BCL is looking to their users’ needs to plan the future. Building a strong library community is a circular process; the library invests in its users and the users support the library, allowing the library to grow and better support the users. Over the years, BCL has clearly made an investment in the community and looking forward, we are excited to see the library and the community grow.