The Library of the Month is a celebration of Wisconsin libraries compiled by the BadgerLink team.
The mission of Madison Public Library (MPL) is to provide free and equitable access to cultural and educational experiences. Last year, MPL was recognized with our nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community, the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. “The Madison Public Library’s programs and services promote creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Library initiatives...address community challenges and engage residents in new and exciting ways,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Madison Public Library celebrates ideas, promotes creativity, connects people and enriches lives while addressing important issues facing Madison citizens, including education, poverty, economic development and quality of life.
As “your place to learn, share and create,” MPL connects visitors with participatory experiences, like the Bubbler. The Bubbler’s hands-on pop-up workshops introduces participants to a variety of local artists and experts, most recently featuring classes and workshops on poetry, writing, sewing, screenprinting, food preparation as art, comic book design, collage and more. The Bubbler partners with artists and groups around Madison to keep users’ experience current and dynamic, and serves as a nationally-consulted model for maker programming in libraries, recently recognized with an IMLS National Leadership Grant in conjunction with the UW-Madison, a Google Making Spaces grant, and two grants to host Maker Corps programs, from Maker Ed and the Evjue Foundation. The Bubbler's Media Lab hosts classes and drop in sessions where attendees learn animation, audio and video production and editing, graphic design, and other media production skills.
A growing homeless population inspired MPL to offer access to social services inside the Central Library. Through partnerships with local social service agencies like Shine608, Porchlight, Veterans Administration, Tellurian, Second Harvest Foodbank, the Central Library houses more than 50 hours of social services assistance weekly, connecting those in need with shelter, housing, meals, showers, storage, job assistance, and skills training. Services are also offered through some of our neighborhood libraries, including tax assistance, food share assistance, job skills and writing assistance. Over 1800 visits were recorded in 2013-14 at the Central Library alone.
Madison's eight neighborhood libraries have similarly embraced new services, for example, when the Meadowridge Library was remodeled in 2015, the library included a community kitchen. The library collaborates with the Neighborhood Center to outfit the kitchen and use it to provide snacks to kids, as well as teach youth how to prepare their own nutritious snacks and meals.
Collaborative and innovative library programming for teens at MPL have social and educational impact.The library partnered with three Juvenile Court programs to take digital literacy and arts-based projects to incarcerated teens, as well as reaching teens in targeted populations through partnerships with Common Wealth Development and Centro Hispano. Another great partnership was with Madison Metropolitan School District and United Way of Dane County. Together, they piloted Read Up, a program offering literacy rich programming and free books to children enrolled in summer care at two schools. By measuring children’s test scores before and after the summer programming, the project was able to show that 75% of students maintained or increased their reading levels rather than the normal summer slide. In addition to these programs, MPL provides workshops at the Bubbler and media lab, coding, book events, and many other fun and engaging learning opportunities for teens. Overall, the library saw an 116% increase in teen program attendance over three years.