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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.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hudson Area Library:Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley

Review of: Hudson Area Library
For: Hometown Gazette
By: Tim Krenz
Series: Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley
Date: February 7, 2014
Dedication: For Melba

The Hudson Area Library, serving patrons in and surrounding this St. Croix River city in far Western Wisconsin, offers a unique example for the Select Guide to Libraries of the St. Croix Valley. Already an established library, it moved in 2010 from several blocks up the hill, where it mis-fit within a concrete building in a residential surrounding, to this new location next to Hudson's city waterfront park. In clear view of the wintered, white and icy St. Croix River, this renovated former corporate office building, stylish in architecture as well as location, now proudly houses, with the police station attached in the back, a unified library service of several municipal areas.

As a library that sought to find a way to make modern requirements, and modern cost, work to its advantage, the distinction for the Select Guide series comes in how a former city library combines the efforts, the collections, the financial resources, and the governance of the area-at-large into an effective and modern public library. The result shines as an example of a good and worthwhile library to visit, and one for new libraries to emulate elsewhere, where the template might work.

On approaches the library walking downhill, on a side-walk street side, toward the river, from the main avenue that parallels the waterfront. To the left, the river front blocks of the backside buildings of Hudson absorb the winter afternoon south & westerly sun. To the right, as I ascend the front steps of the Hudson Area Library, the sun shines and warms the sandy-brick of the exterior wall, supporting the two-storey windows that facade the open-air lobby just inside the entry-way doors.

From inside, looking up and out the windows, lightly shaded by dim-green blinds that reach down from the ceiling, the white overhang makes a striking shade cap to the roof. This complements the intent of the BKV architects of the Twin Cities who redesigned the interior. Inside the lobby, beneath and around the base of the half-circling, suspended mesh and metal dark-green stairs, crawling the west wall, a living garden of plants and flowers, and fine art, grows life and refinement for the enjoyment of people sitting in cushioned easy chairs and couches in the lobby.

Linda Donaldson, the library director, in giving a tour, says that little of the upstairs needed changing when the library moved. A wonder of purpose, taste and décor, the second floor holds the stacks and stacks of the best and the recent non-fiction and fiction literature available to the 16,500 registered borrowers of the Hudson library. At 19,000 square feet total, the library offers in the vastness of books, adult, young adult, teen and pre-teen books and other media, but one simple attraction to a hard-working writer: A history room. This nook larger than a normal bedroom houses archived materials, original histories, and the memory of the Hudson area for researchers and family-historians to find their information not listed elsewhere, nor kept anywhere else in the whole world.

The second floor uses half the space for the young adult and younger sections. It has rooms for special purposes: play rooms, changing rooms, rest rooms, rooms for the disabled, and best of all, a colorfully decorated room holding a PUPPET THEATER!

Of the 300,000 items circulated through the Hudson Area Library, 63,736 came borrowed in 2013 to local patrons from the MORE library system and from the larger Indianhead Library Federation. Moreover, 66,466 in 2013 got loaned out of the library to other systems. Run very efficiently by 3 full-time employees, the 20 part-time library aides service all the library needs, with the work room behind the front desk buzzing with activity, and all desks throughout the building staffed and assisting people. Aside from Hudson's 10,000 or so residents, the community of the area library covers St. Josephs and Hudson townships, North Hudson village, and even the school district which also appoints one member of the 8-person library board.
The active friends of the library, as in every library, do hard volunteer work to support the overall investment of community capital and financial commitments by that community to make this library, like all great libraries, more than a sum of individual parts. Indeed, and not without some objections from citizens, libraries take both resources and commitment to successfully serve the public. And Hudson Area Library faces some challenges in the future, as any great and useful library must address in changing times, and changing technologies.

Primary among them in Hudson, according to Linda Donaldson, comes getting control of the budget, in order to increase the hours of weekly operation from the current 43 hours. Challenges like this, and ones similar, pose more in opportunities than obstacles, and will determine the futures of all the libraries in the St. Croix Valley in how well society learns lessons, good and bad, from 5000 years since the first library in ancient Mesopotamia. In true form to the idea of learning and teaching others, Hudson Area Library intends to shine as an example in its mission statement on the front door, “Where knowledge flows freely.”


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