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Library, Schools, Village Team Up for Community Learning Center

The community learning center will house the library, health department and park & rec. The CLC will help reduce costs and enhance educational opportunities for Greendale residents.

A proposed Community Learning Center at the library is growing out of a groundbreaking partnership between local government agencies.

As with many government collaborations, this one comes with an expected cost savings for the , and . But this one brings something a little different as well: Increases services for Greendale residents.

With the creation of the CLC, the will move into the building that houses the library and Sharing staff and coordinating services between the departments and school district will bring operating costs down, while providing the opportunity for new programming and expanded hours.

A $150,000 renovation, with the cost shared between the Village, library and school district, will be needed before the CLC opens.

It has taken about a year for the Village, Library Board and School Board to create the plan for the CLC. 

"I walked into Village Manger Todd Michael's office and said 'I know you’re not ever going to give me a hug but you have to give me high-five,'" said Greendale Public Library Director Gary Niebuhr at the Library Board Meeting on June 13. "After a year's worth of work we have a plan."

SHARED SERVICES TO ENRICH PROGRAMMING

The CLC will house the library, health department and park and recreation department, while also providing community gathering space.

The plan calls for academic enrichment opportunities for children during non-school hours. Library and center hours will expand to improve the quality of service for all residents and library patrons. According to a report compiled by Village, School and Library officials, it’s estimated that 500 participants could come through the doors of the CLC each day for regular programming. The Park and Rec Department, which will move from Highland View Elementary to the library in early August, will bring in people participating in programs and activities. The CLC will also partner with Greendale Schools for program outreach events that will bring in more youth and families.

Planners expect that the CLC will bring new life to the Village Center as well.

"Why haven’t we done this a long time ago?" said Greendale School District Business Manager Erin Green at Monday’s school board meeting. "This makes a lot of sense."

Potential programs include summer and after-school tutoring; post-secondary preparation; summer and weekend reading and literacy programs; parenting programs; a career center; and classes in things like basic computing, Microsoft products, and other types of technology, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, GED and English as a second language.

In working with the school district the library will have Apple computers  in the Youth Area of the Greendale Public Library to match current Greendale schools’ software.

Paid interns from Greendale High School will be hired to assist the CLC with technology needs and support.

"I think the two most critical components of this is that it brings traffic into the library because of the services offered through the library (and) there’s a lot of traffic in our district offices right now because of Park and Rec," said Director of Assessment & Learning for Schools Kim Amidzich. "There will also be increased traffic of students because they know that they will have accessible bandwidth and Internet access." 

SHARED STAFFING AND COST SAVINGS

The Greendale Schools and the library offer similar services. With the CLC, they will begin sharing staff between the five school libraries and the public library.

The school district employs seven library aides in the technology department and the five libraries. The public library has six clerks and four professional librarians.

The plan is to cross-train 11 library aides and clerks who will provide services at all six libraries. This move will save the Village $30,000 and the school district $9,000. To keep consistency for the students, a clerk will be primarily assigned to one school library, and then work a regularly scheduled short-shift at an alternate location.

Additional sharing of staff members with Park and Rec allows the CLC to have expanded hours of operation without adding cost. The proposed hours of the CLC are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 5 p.m on Fridays. The new hours will allow for 10 additional hours.

“When we saw where municipal budgets were going and especially in the past year when the laws were changed… that guaranteed funds for libraries weren’t in place any more,” said President of Library Board Stephanie Mares at the Library Board meeting. “I kind of saw the writing on the wall and I was getting very concerned that there was such a shrinking pot to fund libraries… A library is the heart of a community. To me this concept is so exciting.”

RENOVATION

The Park and Recreation Department will move into the building where the library and Health Department are currently located, and a $150,000 renovation will provide additional resources. The village, school district and library will share the cost of the renovations.

The renovation will provide access to the library area via Parking Street, provide a workstation at the front counter for the Park and Recreation secretary and an office for the Park and Recreation Director. The renovation will also include the creation of separate adult and youth seating areas and additional soft seating to facilitate laptop and tablet PC users.

The renovation also includes an estimated $90,000 self-checkout system for the current front desk of the public library. According to the report, the system will save the Village enough money to pay for itself in less than 10 years. The system will allow time for staff to improve services for customers. Eventually, there will be a reduction in the number of part time clerk hours.

MANAGEMENT AND WHAT'S NEXT

An advisory board will maintain the goals and objectives of the CLC and another advisory board will oversee shared programming. 

The library board approved the CLC at its June 13 meeting. The Greendale School Board and the Board of Trustees were presented with the report at the last meetings.

Trustee Carl Genz, who sits as a Village representative on the Library Board, said this is a positive move.

“No one could really find a downside,” Genz said. This is a very viable solution to the future of the library. It’s probably the future way that libraries in towns and villages will handle this. We might be on the cutting edge of something here.”

 

Timeline:

Report to Respective Boards

June 30, 2012

Relocation of Park and Recreation and associated reduction in shared staff roles

August 1, 2012

Expansion of hours of Park and Recreation and Library wit Professional Staff hours redeployed so a professional librarian is present more open hours

August 1, 2012

Community engagement and communication

Ongoing

Merger of Technology Services

January 15, 2013

Development of Letter of Understanding of Governance

December 1, 2012

Plan for Merger of Services and Staff

December 1, 2012

Renovation of Library/Municipal Building

September 1, 2012

Begin Merger of Staffs

July 1, 2013

Jenny C June 20, 2012 at 10:48 PM
So What? The Library Director wants a hug? From what we heard, he has blocked this work for the past year! The proof will be in the pudding when the Library Director understands, the Public Schools are now running the library. I hope our library gets better now that the Public Schools are overseeing it.
Catherine June 21, 2012 at 02:47 PM
The school district won't be running the library. It will be a merger of library, school and community services meaning shared and will be overseen by an advisory board not the Board of Ed. It will be a group effort. This will be a huge benefit for the whole Village.
Susie June 22, 2012 at 03:48 PM
A Community Learning Center sounds like a wonderful idea - BUT, how come this was not made known to the residents of Greendale at the start of the planning process? What about focus groups? Surveys??? Libraries and Village organizations in other Wisconsin communities would've reached out to the community first to see what they wanted and what needs should be met in a Community Learning Center. It sounds like more plans and decisions are being made behind closed doors. Also, there are currently only 2 professional librarians employed at the Greendale Public Library.
Mandy A. July 08, 2012 at 09:19 PM
This is long overdue! Many communities have moved in this direction years ago. This is not a new concept by any means. CLCs provide a "one-stop shop" for residents to access Village services and enrichment opportunities. The Village needs to consider more of this type of shared services in order to have a greater collective impact and sustain quality programs and services for its residents.

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