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Library of the Month: Minocqua Public Library

Thursday, September 15, 2016

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

Beautiful flowers outside Minocqua Public Library
Photo Courtesy of Minocqua Public Library

The Minocqua Public Library has come a long way since the early 1900s when the library’s collection was stored on Mrs.Torpy’s enclosed porch. Today the library is a thriving community center, expanded and renovated just five years ago to better serve the population of year-round and seasonal residents, as well as vacationers who travel to Wisconsin’s beautiful northwoods. The larger facility includes areas for programming, study, quiet reading, and research. With this additional space and a greater community presence, library staff have forged partnerships and created new cooperative ventures that increase the value and scope of library service.

Man presenting to a packed room at the Science on Tap Program
Science on Tap Program
Photo Courtesy of Minocqua Public Library

For example, in early 2013, “Science on Tap – Minocqua” held its first event entitled “Wisconsin’s Northwoods: A Changing Landscape in Changing Times” at the Minocqua Brewing Company. The discussion focused on the northwoods' storied history of human impacts from logging and fishing to development and tourism. This event, like others in the series, was live-streamed at the library where attendees enjoyed root beer and pretzels. Science on Tap has become a successful partnership that has drawn large audiences (in person and online) and encourages meaningful discussions. The Science on Tap partners are UW-Madison Kemp Natural Resources Station, UW-Madison Trout Lake Station for Limnology, Lakeland Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, Minocqua Brewing Company, and the Minocqua Public Library. For more information, visit the group’s website at

Another collaborative effort is the newly organized Northwoods Book Festival, which includes six libraries in northern Wisconsin: Boulder Junction Public Library, Frank B. Koller Memorial Library in Manitowish Waters, Mercer Public Library, Minocqua Public Library, Presque Isle Community Library, and Winchester Public Library. This partnership crosses three county lines–Iron, Oneida and Vilas–and two system boundaries (Wisconsin Valley Library Service and Northern Waters Library Service) to bring communities together. Each library has hosted an author program and a book discussion as part of a community read of Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler. A highlight of the festival featured a visit from the Wisconsin author. This relationship has offered new opportunities for library users and library staff to meet and for everyone to visit a variety of northwoods libraries.

Children and adults learn about plants in the Minocqua Public Library garden
Library Garden
Photo Courtesy of Minocqua Public Library

Finally, on a smaller scale, a gardening project has brought together library staff, story time families, and members of the library’s middle school book group to plant a variety of vegetables in two raised beds which were funded by the Minocqua Public Library Foundation. Tomatoes, beans, carrots, green peppers, lettuce, and flowering annuals have thrived in a space just outside the children’s area of the library. Now with summer's end, kids are excited about the pizza and veggie party planned for later in the month featuring “home-grown” produce.

Libraries, no matter the size or location, continue to find new friends and partners to create amazing opportunities for their communities. So, when you head north for a visit, don’t forget to stop in. We’d love to share our story with you.