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Record numbers use Rushford library

Fri, Aug 18th, 2006
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - "I have the best job in the city!" declared Rushford Public Librarian Susan Hart as she presented her annual report to the city council at their regular meeting August 14. Hart began her report by unfurling a banner longer than the meeting room that included the names of all the 193 children enrolled in the summer reading program. Hart noted a record number of books had been checked out with seventeen special programs and 1,700 reading hours clocked. Crediting assistant librarian Mrs. Tveten and her two high school helpers with the success, Hart enthusiastically described the closing night cookout complete with musical entertainment and shared that prizes awarded the young readers were compliments of the local booster club; the city encountered no expense.

In her annual report, Hart gave the library's amazing growth statistics. Comparing statistics from 2005 to 1998 (the year she took over as librarian), Hart reported a 25 percent increase in registered users, a whopping 430 percent increase in the number of people coming into the library, and a 75 percent increase in checked out materials. Over 31,000 items were checked out in 2005 from the library originally built to house 2,500 items. ILL's (Interlibrary loans) were also up with 3,250 items lent to other libraries (280 percent increase) and 4,691 items borrowed from others.

In a typical week, 59 customers use the six computers to access the Internet. Hart informed the council that a lot of people were using resume software on the computers donated by Bill Gates to create their own resumes, often requiring one-on-one help from the staff. Hart noted this was an important part of public relations for the library.

When the library's doors are closed on Mondays, Hart is out delivering books to the homebound. Calling it a "huge reward for me," Hart plans on continuing to provide the service herself rather than passing it off to other staff.

The winter reading program has been warmly received by adults, even generating a book club last year. Books on tape are in high demand among commuters and truckers. Hart noted that many of the expensive sets have been donated.

Hart works closely with Rushford-Peterson librarian Val Haseleit on ordering materials. When school projects such as the parade of states and research on mitosis are assigned, Hart makes sure to make appropriate reference material available as much as possible.

As Hart takes on more leadership roles in the library system and more paperwork is required by the state, staff is stretched more and more. Hart noted that a single unique item could require a half hour to enter into the checkout system. As a result, she is looking to increase staff next year.

Hart reported that she had once again sent a request to Winona County for funding. So far the requests have fallen on deaf ears with no money coming in to cover the costs of serving rural Winona County patrons. Funding from Fillmore County in 2005 was less than it had been in 1998. The current contract with the County will soon expire; the last contract took nine months to iron out.

Following Hart's report, Mayor Les Ladewig commended Hart and her staff on a job well done.

Ziegler Case

After going into closed session for an hour to conduct a conference phone call with the city's attorneys in the Ziegler generator case, the council reopened the meeting to take action. The council declined an offer from Ziegler to close the case with a $90,000 settlement. Ziegler representatives had presented this offer to City Administrator Windy Block and Mayor Ladewig at an informal meeting August 4.

The council then authorized city attorney Terry Chiglo, Block, and Ladewig to attend a mediation session with Ziegler on August 18. Since the first meeting was set for 8:30 a.m. in the Twin Cities and meetings could easily continue until 5:00 p.m., the council also approved a food and lodging allowance for the council representatives.

Other business

In other business the council:

• granted Jim and Marlys Johnson's request to relocate their garage on their property with back and side yard variances;

• agreed to pay half of the cost of updating a single family housing study with the EDA picking up the other half of the cost (total cost will be $3,000); the EDA will also cover half of a rental study update with F&L Development paying the other half (total cost will be $2,200);

• learned Baker Construction was low bidder on the fire department's fire truck display addition at the fire hall. The cost of the addition will be $20,000 or $21,400 depending on the flooring option chosen.

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