7. About the Library

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Who uses the Library?

The Library is a center of community life: services are free, everybody is welcome and you see everybody. It’s our most democratic institution, and provides a general gathering place for people as well as meeting rooms for community groups. About 80,000 people have Appleton Library cards – a cross-section of our entire local population.

Aren’t libraries just for leisure?

The Library is THE place for education, supplementing school media centers with in-depth materials, and is the only Library for many alternative school and home-school children -- and more adults learn things independently than learn via formal education.

But with the Internet, aren't fewer people using libraries?

Some people think the Internet is making libraries less busy, but just the opposite is true.

Librarians are way-finders on the information highway; libraries provide access to great value-added databases, as well as Internet access for those who don’t have their own.

The Appleton Public Library creates databases and online resources with local history and community information. With the Internet, people use the Library differently, but they use it more!

Money is tight: aren’t libraries just a “nice-to-have” and not a “need-to-have”?

While not a critical service like police or fire, libraries are still an essential service. Communities that demonstrably value families, education, social inclusion and culture are stronger, healthier, better places to live, work and create opportunities.

Where do you get funds?

The Library needs donations, and gets grants every year from the Appleton Library Foundation’s endowment and help from the Friends of Appleton Library – two organizations which need support! But over 95% of the money spent at the Library comes from local tax dollars – mostly from City of Appleton property taxes. But counties pay their share, too.

Can libraries help the economy?

Libraries promote community development and growth. People starting a business, people running a business and people looking for work all use and benefit from Library resources. Many people look at the public Library when deciding where they want to live -- and access to libraries helps people prepare for higher paying jobs.

Studies have shown that for every dollar invested in libraries, there is at least a $4 return on investment to the community. (Check out the most recent studies of the economic impact of Public Libraries, including specifically in Wisconsin.)

Do libraries help families?

Libraries are places families can use together; we work with parents and families to help children love reading and learning. We encourage families to use the Library together. Kids who read succeed!

Who’s in charge?

The Library is governed by a citizen Board of Trustees, including one alderperson, one Appleton Area School District representative, and seven other citizens appointed by the Mayor. Most Board appointments are for three-year terms; Appleton residents interested in serving on the Board should contact the Mayor, the Library Board President, or the Library Director.

The Board makes budget and policy decisions and oversees the staff. Board members are happy to talk to others about their work making the Library work for the community!

Administration oversees the Library's daily operation.

What’s the deal with parking? Library parking should be free!

Parking is free in City streets and lots on Sundays, but at other times, ramps and parking meters reflect the supply and demand of being part of a busy downtown. The meters in front of the Library are City meters; the parking lot is maintained and operated by the Appleton Public Works Department. The City receives all parking revenue and parking tickets, and the City Council controls the rules for parking meter enforcement.

Directions to APL and details about parking options.

You actually have paid employees? Aren’t you all volunteers?

The Library needs volunteers and uses hundreds of hours every month for special projects, data entry, help with programs and children’s activities, delivery of books to the homebound, shelving materials and more.

Apart from our volunteers, the Library is operated by staff. There are nearly 100 employees under the direction of professional librarians (who hold at least one master’s degree). Work is done in the building seven days a week, sometimes from six AM until midnight. Five service points are staffed (Administration, Children's, Circulation, Information, and Reference). We answer questions, run programs, check-out and re-shelve material, and maintain a facility used daily by over a thousand people.

Don’t libraries only have musty old books?

The Library collects and gives access to a wide range of media for all ages: books are still the biggest part of libraries (and we get many new ones every week), but there’s a great collection of DVDs, music CDs, audiobooks, and downloadable books.

Can you ask questions at the Library?

You can ask us (almost) anything, in person, on the phone, via email or through an online form! We’re here to help you find the information and knowledge you need.

How can people get involved or help?

In many ways: sharing ideas, time and money. Use the library and let us know what you think: we value and need thoughtful feedback.

The Friends of the Appleton Library need active members and are involved in many library services and operations, including advocacy by contacting elected officials and writing letters to the editor.

There are many jobs for volunteers at the library. You can donate materials or money for the collection. The Friends of Appleton Public Library rely on many contributions to help the Library have the “edge of excellence” beyond tax support.