The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley #6: Dresser Village Library

Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley
#6: Dresser Village Library
By Tim Krenz
December 8, 2013

Along State Highway 35, the artery-road of the St. Croix Valley's Wisconsin side, one drives through the village of Dresser. Several businesses line the highway and the off-streets, several remain closed for a duration, and some properties look to sell. Resting on a flat, narrow and long plain, between Trollhaugen Ski Hill snug on the east side, and the river valley's sharp, forested hills to its west and north, Dresser and its main side-street shows no buildings two floors tall, except the houses at the far end of the business district, before the rail road tracks end the road, and set the hamlet's limits.

On the cross street, Central Avenue, less than one block away from the white-painted village hall, and among several other white buildings, a resident or a visitor arrives at another white concrete cube, once a village hall and the village fire hall, that now houses the Dresser Village Library.

Tiffany Meyer, the public library director, shares the history of the library in Dresser, and like many libraries in transition during our information age, within a community itself changing during the time we live, she talks of great opportunities for both the library and the people to share tradition aimed toward shaping the future.
For this series of reviews of a Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley, Dresser receives attention for the reason, or “sense,” of place, and for its very practical nature. Let none doubt: the description “practical” comes with sincerity and high praise.

Reading from a short history of the Dresser Village Library, by a former volunteer turned one-time librarian, Dawn Kelley, the library in Dresser began in 1935, at the middle point of the long global depression. Founded by the Dresser Women's Club who saw the need and felt the inspired service to create it, and staff it, the library began an incredible 78 year history. Done in a cooperative effort with the village board, who provided space for the library in the Dresser Hall/Community Center, when the library needed more room in 1964, the village provided the current space in the old village office and fire hall, itself constructed in 1928. Today, run like any normal public library, with a library board, and a group of volunteers, the library excels at doing the little things that matter greatly, within the limited and crowded space. All of it adds more than the sum of its parts.

According to the Kelley history, in 1953-54, a listing for the state of Wisconsin noted Dresser as the smallest town in size “owning and operating a public library” (Kelley, Dawn. A History of the Dresser Village Library. MS, Archives of Dresser Village Library: undated, p. 1).

Open six days each week, the Dresser library collaborates with the libraries in the larger towns to the immediate north and south, and forms part of the MORE integrated regional library system. From any source, Dresser can provide the same physical or digital materials that all other libraries in the system provide. Dresser Village Library offers the world, like great libraries do.

The library director, Tiffany, started her job in 2012. She and two other employees receive help from a volunteer list of two dozen (a high proportion relative to population, as seen in this series). Like all library volunteers, they do the work that the employees cannot do by themselves: Provide refreshments for events, run book sales every April, staff the early literacy programs (Like the “Artsy Smartsy,” and the “Littles StoryTime”--For more info, call the library at 715-755-2944, or visit ). During a recent repainting and cleanup of the library, the volunteers moved and re-shelved the books—heavy books.

The library's collection, large in comparison with a bigger library, offers a range of interests, but a general focus on materials of all media for newborns to young adults. As Dresser village hosts a kindergarten campus of St. Croix Falls School Districts, Tiffany works with other public librarians and the school librarians on delivering programs and materials to the Dresser School. In a sense, these services by the local public library ensures that it remains relevant to the community needs and the people it serves.
The library in Dresser conducted a needs assessment in 2012, examining collections and programs. It has limited space, but it also needs more technology to meet needs of patrons. Somewhere in there it might find compatibility. The library will shortly conduct a public focus survey, to ask its patrons and its community-at-large the supreme question of its relevance: “What does the community want the library to do?” In terms of the practical, Tiffany Meyer stated in the interview, that does not mean unnecessary capital infrastructure or extravagance. “As far as the community goes, we would really just like to hear from them. Its hard to reach everybody.”

In the move along this curve of global-transformation at the do-it-local plane, the library plans to update its operations, especially because “. . .libraries need to be at the front of technology,” as Tiffany recognizes. “We have to be here for people who don't have [network] devices or access,” she continued. In today's age, and in particular the job market, no access can cripple a person and their livelihood.

All libraries, from the biggest, the oversized to the under-appreciated, must address the critical question of future relevance to their community and the people who need them, whether any society at-large realizes it needs libraries or not. The next stage of history, or Post-History, requires the safe, neutral ground for personal and private enlightenment, at affordable cost or minimal public service, if the good things of civilization shall endure, things like democracy, reason, humanity, and, if possible, a perpetuating peace.

Understanding this issue of libraries and the future begins by knowing what questions to ask. Dresser Village Library provides in Dawn Kelley's manuscript short history a great starting point by its conclusion, points bringing the tradition into the future: “The goals for the Dresser Village Library are and always will be: to assemble, preserve and administer books and related educational materials in organized collections—to serve the community as a general center of reliable information—to provide opportunity and encouragement for children, young people, men and women to educate themselves continuously.” (Kelley, p. 3).

“A community can look at a library as an attraction for progress,” said Tiffany Meyer, the library director who must confront the future for the Dresser library. She concludes, connecting the past with the future, mingled with a hint perhaps,“Our library is cozy and family friendly, and we are highly supportive of the arts. Come check out the library.”