Kathy Klager is Director of the Pauline Haass Public Library

rsz_kathy_klager_headshot__aug_18_2016The Pauline Haass Public Library has both a vision and a mission.

The far-reaching goal is our vision: cultivate a community of informed and engaged citizens.

What we do on a daily basis is our mission: connect people to information, ideas, and one another in a vibrant and welcoming community-responsive environment.

Who doesn’t want to live in a community of informed and engaged citizens?  That vision is what gets me, and the rest of the staff, out of bed each morning. We help people become informed by providing them with a deep array of materials and talks on a wide range of subjects, and encourage them to be engaged by offering activities that promote participation with fellow residents, organizations, and local government. We respect intellectual freedom and the necessity for all people to hold their own beliefs about issues, and we assist users in separating fact from fiction.

At Pauline Haass Public Library, we try to do all we can to make the lives of our residents better, easier, and more interesting. By doing so, we hope to make the community a richer place for all. A public library today is probably much different from the quiet place that you remember from your childhood. For one thing, the library is no longer just a place. We now have a range of digital services available to you 24/7: eBooks, databases, online courses, digital magazines, and more. We check out wifi hotspots, so that you can access these and other Internet-based services from a variety of locations. Increasingly, the library comes to you, as you go about your busy life. You may see us at a farmer’s market, with recipe books for preparing that vegetable you’ve never tried before, or at your fitness class in the Civic Center, with DVDs that you can use to keep moving at home. Watch for us, or reach out to us with other ideas!

“…connect people to information, ideas, and one another…” is a major phrase in this library’s mission. You’ll notice it doesn’t say we provide access. That’s too passive; we strive to put information and ideas in front of you, to reach out and say “Hey, you might be interested in this!” So, at PHPL, you will see lots of displays and hear staff members telling you about something new they think fits your reading patterns. You’ll also hear some noise. Connecting people with information and ideas generates excitement; connecting them with one another generates conversation. Whether people meet in book clubs, at speaker programs, at children’s events, or during the March art show, they’re connecting with, and learning to care about, one another, which enriches the community. Of course, we also offer quiet: just reserve one of our individual study rooms!

Connecting people to information takes the form of books, magazines, databases, and free online instructor-led Gale Courses on a wide variety of topics. It also means that you don’t have to know where to find the information you need. Leave that to us; just call us, e-mail us, or stop in and ask a question and we’ll try to find an answer for you. Does your mother need in-home care? Are your houseplants dying? Do you need to apply for government benefits? Are you looking for information about a health condition, a new law, resume writing? Do you just not know where to turn to solve a problem? Call (262) 246-5181 to speak to a librarian about adult issues, and (262) 246-5182 to get information for kids and teens.

Becoming connected to information involves literacy:  all kinds of literacy, not just the ability to read books in English. We promote cultural literacy by bringing in speakers and making current movies and music available. We promote technological literacy by offering free personal computer training sessions and free online Gale Courses in all sorts of technological subjects. And we promote language literacy by having Rosetta Stone available online for home use, and loaded on laptops for use in the library. Of course, we haven’t forgotten reading: our storytimes introduce children to the rhythms, colors, and stories inherent in reading, and our book discussion groups for children help those that are reading get more out of the experience. If you haven’t visited our children’s room, you’re in for a treat! It has become a destination for families throughout the area because of its ever-changing early literacy interactive areas for young children and our KidsLab, with STEM activities for grades 3 and up.

The last part of this library’s mission says that we do all this in “a vibrant and welcoming community-centered environment.” Come on in! We want you to feel that the library is your other family room, a place you use to relax, to socialize, to play and to learn. Whether it’s plopping down with a good novel or newspaper near the south windows, playing chess or checkers, watching a puppet show that your children put on, researching a new car purchase, planning your landscape, or working online, there’s plenty for you and your family to do here. We aim to keep things interesting, so expect to be surprised once in a while. Being community-centered is important to us:  our services reflect the needs and wants of our residents, and we encourage your ideas and feedback.

The library is open 7 days a week during the school year. Sunday hours, 1-4 p.m., are popular times for family visits or last minute homework. Currently, annual checkouts exceed 336,000 and an average of over 400 people a day use the library building. Our goal is to give you reasons to be one of them!