Photo by Steven Okonek/Tri-Media

Library Director Highlights Benefits of Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library

After years of planning and fundraising, the Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library officially opened its doors in September 2016. Since that time, both the public and staff have enjoyed the benefits of the new space, which includes more meeting rooms, improved facilities and amenities, and increased opportunities.

“The meeting room use has just skyrocketed and people are really enjoying them for study or just to get together with a group,” said Lori Belongia, Library Director. “We’re even using two rooms that we hadn’t anticipated using for meetings and it’s working out really well.”

On average, the meeting rooms are used 250 times per month, and the rooms themselves are better equipped for technology and collaboration.

“It’s been way much better for people who have been using the rooms,” said Belongia.

In addition to improved meeting spaces, the new Genealogy Room (which can double as a meeting room when needed) has also been receiving extensive interest.

“That’s been getting a lot of attention, which is one of the things that I’d hope would happen,” said Belongia.

Photo by Steven Okonek/Tri-Media

During Historic Preservation Month in May, members of the Marshfield Genealogical Group held a series of workshops in the room, something that would not have been as convenient at the former facility.

“It would not have had the same kind of reception or usefulness if you couldn’t be in the same room as all of the genealogy materials were,” said Belongia (referring to how formerly these materials were scattered throughout the library). “We designed it as a research area, but it’s also a little classroom as well.”

Marshfield Area Genealogy Group Members are available on Tuesdays from 10:00am-2:00 pm for to help those interested in learning more about their genealogy or other related topics.

Another popular room in the new library is the JP Adler Room, which hosts a wide variety of activities and events, including book clubs, writer’s groups, children’s performances, adult craft nights, and presentations from other local groups, including Marshfield Civic Band Opportunity Development Center, and Marshfield Clinic, and the North Wood County Historical Society, for example.

Additionally, a new “grab and go” nutrition program possible through a partnership with UW-Extensions Wood County has been especially well received.

“We’re doing a lot more programming than we have done in the past,” said Belongia. Much more than just a place to check out books, the library’s plethora of programming is integral to its central purpose.

“We are more than books. It’s a wide variety,” said Belongia. “It’s there for everyone. I think that’s the best thing about a library.”

Traffic at the library has also increased, up 10% monthly from numbers in 2016 alone. Computer, WiFi, and laptop usage has skyrocketed, something Belongia attributes to more availability and better sitting places to use laptops. Reference desk inquiries have also increased.

Those seeking a quieter experience travel to the second floor, where the “fireside room” in particular has been a favorite spot for many.

“People really appreciate the space,” said Belongia. “That is the space that we have truly designated quiet and we make sure it stays that way. It has worked out really well.”

Also on the second floor, the new teen area has been an attractive space for young adults to read and study.

“There are a lot more young adults and they are staying a longer time when they come,” said Belongia. “I think that they are finding that this is a good place to hang out and study, kind of that third space. Not home, not school, but a place that they feel comfortable.”

With the children’s areas and checkout desks located on the ground level, there is more activity downstairs. Twice Sold Tales, a used book sale area maintained by Friends of the Marshfield Public Library (FOMPL) has tripled their sales thanks to their new space. The public use display cases in the atrium have also become a popular attraction.

Being a new facility, adjustments have been made to some areas, such as the location of the Children’s service desk.

“Parts of it are still evolving. We learned really quickly that the placement of the Children’s Information service desk just wasn’t right. It’s now closer to the computers so people when they need assistance, can get it right away,” said Belongia.

Future plans for a coffee service are still being developed, and Belongia is especially anticipating the completion of the new connected Community Center.

“I can’t wait until the Community Center is done, because that’s when the full vision of these buildings working together is going to be realized,” she said.

Belongia thanks everyone who helped make the new library a possibility and encourages those who haven’t been inside to come check it out!

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