The new Kimberly Library, a tale of two cities

Thanks to new Library Director Holly Selwitschka for providing this great summary of the past, present, and future of Kimberly Library!

 

As a library director new to the Heart of the Valley, (I’m the new library director for the Kimberly Public Library), I would like to begin our relationship with a story about change.

The story I have in mind recalls the beginning lines from Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of Times.”

This may seem an exaggerated statement. Let’s face it, we are not talking about the French Revolution here and now in the Heart of the Valley, but we are facing a revolutionary change in the management of two of it’s best-loved libraries that reside in the core of our region. The story I have to tell is a tale of one library that has diverged into two.  

The Kimberly Public Library has been in existence since 1907, when the first Village President established a traveling Dutch Lending Library with a collection of 50 books, all in Dutch, which was relevant to the significant volume of Dutch immigrants who settled in the Heart of the Valley. This library was established even before the Village of Kimberly was incorporated and is now more than 100 years old.

In 1994, the Village of Little Chute was ready to introduce public library services to their residents, but opening a new public library is not a light undertaking. With the help of Kimberly Public Library Director Barbara Wentzel, a new joint library partnership was formed, and she undertook the management of both libraries.

The arrangement was beneficial to both communities, as it helped Little Chute to establish a new public library, and it provided additional support for the long-established Kimberly library through joint financing. Up until the formation of the joint library partnership, the villages had only shared equipment. The joint library was the first joint service undertaken through a partnership between the Villages of Kimberly and Little Chute. It inspired the two communities to evolve a tradition of helping each other through shared services ranging over the years from custodial maintenance to police protection.  

They thrived. The libraries thrived. The communities thrived.

Through the years, the growth experienced by both communities and libraries was exponential. Despite the long-standing tradition of shared services that the joint relationship inspired, it became apparent that the libraries could better meet the needs of both communities if they were managed independently of one another.

And, so, the Kimberly-Little Chute Library has reached an end of an era. It is the worst of times, as sad as it is to see a good thing end; but, it’s also the best of times to experience the excitement and possibilities of embarking on a new journey.

With the dissolution of the joint library partnership on December 31, 2020, one shared library has diverged into two: the Kimberly Public Library housed within the James J. Siebers Memorial Library building and the Little Chute Public Library located within the Gerard H. Van Hoof Memorial Library building. In the end, the Kimberly Public Library has rediscovered its forever home in its place of origin, the place it has been all along, and the place it will search for its happily ever after.

As community members and library users, you are key players in this story. You should be aware of how the transition in management of the Kimberly library may affect you. The following are answers to some of the questions you may be asking:

Will the Kimberly Library have a new location or building? No. We remain at 515 West Kimberly Avenue nestled within the Village of Kimberly Municipal Complex.

Will I still be able to use my library card? Yes. There will be no change in how you use your card.

Will I still be able to use both libraries? Yes. The library remains a member of the OWLS Library System, and deliveries between libraries will not be interrupted or compromised in any way.

What is actually changing?

  1.  The library is under new management, as it is now managed by a library board whose members are appointed solely by the Village of Kimberly Board of Trustees.
  2. The Kimberly Public Library has fewer staff. As a result, library hours have changed. We are now open 9am-6pm Monday through Friday and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
  3. The library website is in a transitionary stage. The old website is still operational, and a new one is being designed. To help get through the process of this transition, you can follow Kimberly Public Library on Facebook or Instagram to get updates about the library and find out about the line-up of virtual programs that we have to offer.

When will the library open so I can come in and browse for books? There is no re-open date set; however, the library board and staff are working diligently on a plan to re-open as soon as possible. We are currently offering curb-side pick-up of library materials, an exciting line-up of virtual programs, and several resources for checking out ebooks and virtually accessing reference materials.

How can I find out more? To register for the weekly electronic newsletter of the Kimberly Public Library and receive regular updates, send an email to kim@kimberlypubliclibrary.org with the phrase “newsletter sign-up” in the subject line.  You can also email me directly with any questions or concerns that you have: hselwitschka@kimberlypubliclibrary.org