Local Librarian Sustains Library's Usefulness Through 21st Century

The library is a place that holds countless memories for people, young and old alike. Whether it’s your grade school shelves of picture books, the stacks of your college studying days or your current community and literary trove, libraries are as unique as the events and opportunities they provide. Leah Fritsche, the Deerfield Public Library director hopes to sustain this varied image into the 21st century.

            Fritsche is working with the Madison Community Foundation and the Dane County Library Service on the Beyond the Page campaign to provide funding for humanities programs at all of the county’s twenty-eight libraries into the future.  She believes the effort will provide an amazing opportunity that “opens the door for all kinds of ideas to flourish.” Libraries will be able to launch or enhance collections on everything from entertainment to history to literature, to food. “Finding a niche in every corner of the county makes its citizens well informed and entertained,” she says. However providing this can be difficult to accomplish under library’s budgets, especially the smaller the library.

            Currently, the library in the village of Deerfield, with a population of 2,000 citizens, complements its library collection with toddler story times, a Sheepshead card game group, cooking demonstrations, chair yoga, computer classes, couponing, Lego contests, a teen advisory board that volunteers and holds a monthly books discussion,  and so much more. Fritsche notes that none of these unique programs would be possible without funding to keep them free and open to anyone who wanders by.

            Fritsche sees the value of Beyond the Page in the assistance it will provide for libraries struggling to maintain this level of service under budget cuts. With funding specifically for libraries, directors such as Fritsche can let their ideas grow. “As we strive to meet goals, the burden is lifted,” and her dreams can become realities. Fritsche is excited to “provide the kind of programming that engages and surprises even regular library users.” She envisions hosting a big name author and a Smithsonian display in the future.

            Recently, Friends of the Library celebrated the facility’s 20th Anniversary. Their organization’s annual Trivia Night raised $4,000 from the more than 400 people who attended. Fritsche hopes to bring this idea to Beyond the Page as a county-wide fundraiser to help support all Dane County libraries.

“Beyond the Page will start making the daydreams of regular library staff become real, helping them dream bigger, drawing in all walks of life to the library where they can discover something they never knew before,” she says. Regardless of size or budget, Fritsche knows that a library can inspire anyone, and she wants to be a part of the history.

           Learn more about the Beyond the Page campaign and how you can become involved at beyondthepage.info

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