Thursday, July 7, 2011

Appleton Public Library Director Colleen Rortvedt Provides Context to Post-Crescent Article on Library Expansion

Thanks to Colleen for permission to reprint what she originally posted on the Appleton Public Library's Facebook page.

A follow-up comment by Colleen Rortvedt, Appleton Public Library Director.

I just wanted to add some information to this article. It’s always nice when the media wants to give you some attention; however, it’s never possible to share the whole story.

The facts shared in the article are correct. The Library will not be pursuing funding in the 2012 budget year. I fear the headline “Appleton library expansion on hold indefinitely” makes this sound like a defeat or a setback. There was never a concrete timeline as this is a complex project that has only been formally in the works for three years. While those of us that have been directly involved in it may feel like three years is a long time, in the context of something this magnitude three years isn’t a lot.

Moving forward with the decision to not request funding for 2012 was a deliberate choice on the part of the Library. It frees us up to spend more time planning rather than pursuing funding. Planning a new or remodeled facility is obviously a huge project. There is lots of work to be done and I don’t want the impression to be that this is time wasted or that we are shrinking back into our shells.

The Library is in the midst of many transitions right now including implementing a new organizational structure and instituting RFID, a new method of check-in, checkout, inventory and security. These are changes that could have huge effects on Library operations. It would be irresponsible to force through a decision at a time of such great transition without giving the Library a few months to let these changes play out and see what our “new normal” will be.

Is the economy a factor? Of course. It factors into every decision we make every day! However, the Library didn’t choose to hold off on funding requests solely because of tough budget times or because other high-profile projects are in the works. These are distinctly different projects that will likely appeal to distinctly different donors. The success of raising private funds for the Library will rely on a forward-looking visionary plan that gives Appleton the Library it deserves, not whether or not these other projects succeed. I refuse t o look at these other projects as competition as much as it seems people want us to. I wish all these projects success because they contribute to a vibrant community and an amazing downtown that APL is proud to be a part of.

In planning we know that we are trying to predict the future, which is an impossible task. We can use the best information we have for today and extrapolate to accommodate for the future. There will never be a time when we can anticipate all our future needs with complete accuracy. However, this period of time is so transformational that it is especially unique. The changes mentioned above are equal or greater in weight some of the greatest in APL’s history. The choice to not request funding in 2012 and continue planning was the only responsible choice to make.

Again, I am grateful to the Post –Crescent for their interest and to Jenny Espino for her time and accuracy. I just wanted to take this opportunity to add some more context to the information published.

Related articles:
New library placed on indefinite hold.  (7/6/2011)
On the need for a new library.  (2/4/2011)
Director responds to 'frequently observed misconceptions'. (12/4/2009)
Readers weigh in on new library. (11/9/2009)
Mayor provides his perspective on library planning process.  (10/7/2009)
Post-Crescent supports next step in library facilities planning process.  (10/6/2009)
Financing options for Appleton's library project.  (10/6/2009)
Potential sites for new library under discussion.  (10/4/2009)
Membership of capital facilities committee for library project approved.  (8/7/2009)
Terry Dawson's discusses Appleton library building project.  (7/16/2009)
Library building project update.  (6/18/2009)
Appleton's library planning escapes budget cuts.  (11/13/2008)
Post-Crescent endorses library design study.  (11/11/2008)
Study:  New library should be built downtown.  (7/10/2008)

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