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Stories to Read

PHOTO: Erik Alsaker with Grady in the PAWS program.Lodi Library is a wonderful resource

The Lodi Library is a wonderful resource for my whole family, but most importantly for my son, Erik, who was 3 when we first moved to the area... (Read More)



Libraries are the best deal in town. Any town. They are magical places that are used by just about everyone because we all know that the answers we seek are somewhere within the walls of the library between the covers of a book... (Read More)

The first thing I tell people

When we move away, the thing I will miss most will be the library here in Madison. It's the first thing I tell people about who are new to the area... (Read More)


Libraries offer comfort, friendship

Like an open, gentle and generous family member, libraries have always offered me comfort, friendship and knowledge... (Read More)


A half-century, plus, at the library

1950s...I have a reading affair with perry Mason for many years, under the blankets of my bed with my flashlight... (Read More)


PHOTO: CARLENE BLAVATBlessed with public libraries

My first library remembrances are of a mobile library unit coming once every two weeks to our small town of Hanover, Ill... (Read More)


Stowers-TonnWhen I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to live two doors down from the public library. My chore for the week was to return my mother's and great-grandmother's books and check out new ones. My mom had read so many books, I would look through several to find ones that didn't have her number already written in. On occasion I would erase her number, thinking for sure she would not notice. If she did notice, she never said anything, and reread several books I am sure. My great grandmother would put a few buck in a coffee can each week for my delivery of books. I can still picture where my can used to sit in her house. The two librarians were Mrs. Davies during my elementary years, and Ms. Berg during my junior and senior high school years. I have the fondest memories of Ms. Berg. She helped me on countless projects, sat through several "poor me" rants that I would go on, and bought me many a dinner at Perkins over her lunch hour. I easily spent each day of the week with Ms. Berg from after supper to the time the library would close. I have tried to find Ms. Berg over the years to let her know that she helped me become the person I am today. Thank you Ms. Berg -- wherever you are!!

--Tammy Stowers-Tonn, Kilbourn Public Library, Wisconsin Dells (09/11)


I very often request items from the library that I read about on NPR -- books, specific subjects/people/events, movies, music -- and the majority of the time you have the item, or it is on order. That is such a great great opportunity, and often there are many, many holds before me. But such is life!

--Chris Odt, Madison Public Library Lakeview Branch (06/11)


Libraries have been a part of my life forever. As a child, my mom and dad took my siblings and me to the library here in Madison -- the Hawthorne Branch at that time. One of the books I read when I was small was "Mei Li". After much searching, I was able to order a hard copy of that book for my home library. As a child, that name sounded so much like "Mary Lee" to me that it won me over immediately. I am proud and happy to say that I have been using the Pinney Branch Library for 40 years. I was able to walk there from my grade school (St. Dennis) and still walk home. I plan on continuing to use the Pinney Branch as long as possible.

--Mary Lee Rossmaessler, Madison Public Library Pinney Branch (04/11)

Libraries influenced my life before I was born -- indeed, they may even have facilitated it! My grandparents attended the same library in New London, Connecticut. Grandpa was a friend of Grandma's brother. She was much younger, and many years later she met him at college in Santa Barbara, CA. She was impressed with his love of reading and learning (him coming from a more disadvantaged background than her own) and they reminisced fondly over the library they loved in New London -- she spending much time in the children's section as a little girl, he escaping an abusive household on the other side of the tracks. They eloped, much to the chagrin of her family at marrying a temperamental son of poor Irish immigrants with no high school degree and limited prospects. They touched my life in a more tangible way. My grandmother trained teachers, including my 1st grade teacher. This teacher was perplexed about what to do with me, since I could already read by the time I entered her class, and she went to my grandmother for advice. "Send the child to library!" she proclaimed, and there I went for many happy hours, with many dear books who (not which!) I would still claim as my steadfast friends.

-- Ann Alquist, Madison Public Library (04/11)

My first memory was, as a preschooler, going to the Beloit Public Library with my mother. We collected books and magazines and brought them home for reading. We moved to Brodhead when I was 8 years old and lived on the same block as the library! After finishing our chores we could visit and get books very conveniently. In high school, the librarian/Latin teacher encouraged me to participate in a Library Club, and later became president. Following graduation from UW-Whitewater with a B.A. in political science, I worked for a state senator before attending UW-Madison's Library School. My high school librarian wrote an excellent recommendation for me for my application to the school. It was very touching to me. I graduated from UW in 1981 and have worked in academic, special and now public libraries, as well as teaching computer skills to library school students at UW-Milwaukee. Encouragement from the reference librarians at Madison Public library directed me to my current career in public libraries in California. I love the diversity of topics we cover in both collecting materials and assisting patrons. Wisconsin's public libraries were critical to my current rewarding career as a librarian teaching computer skills to job seekers, answering reference questions and selecting materials.

-- Mary Boyle, Sunnyvale, CA (04/11)

I often think that the most valuable card I have in my wallet is my library card. As an avid reader and a homeschooling mom, I don't know what I would do without the library! The books I read for pleasure and information, as well as those I gather for my children, have a value that cannot be captured by a dollar figure. Who can put a price on learning? Who can put a price on the joy of sharing a book with one's children? We could never afford to buy all the books that we obtain from the library. Aside from the wonderful people in my life, I consider the library one of my greatest blessings.

-- Kelly Bond, Madison Public Library Pinney Branch (04/11)

While growing up, my father had a job that required moving around a lot, but my mother always found the library and that is where we spent quality time reading and learning. I was in awe that the authors had so much to say in one book. I wondered, how could someone find so much to say, and recently I found out. I have written and published a book called Tears of Love, A Daughter Remembers. It takes the reader inside the heart of Helenkay while she was grieving for her mother, showing an extraordinary relationship between a mother and daughter. The experiences make one cry and laugh at the same time, but the message is how much she misses her mother. I contribute the success of being an author to spending many hours at various libraries. For you see, the learning seems to never stop. I am currently in a Master's Degree Program in Business Management, and writing a sequel to Tears of Love, A Daughter Remembers, soon to be published.

-- Helen Kay Phephles, Reedsburg Public Library (10/10)  


PHOTO: AMY GILLILANDWithout the library, I probably would have ended up a frustrated and unpleasant person. The library saved me and gave me worlds to explore beyond my own household. When I was 12, my parents separated and my mother and I moved to a small town in Colorado. It was 1974 and we knew no one. There was no radio, and the television only aired the Watergate hearings. My mother drank a lot and got involved with people that wanted nothing to do with me, and my schoolmates shunned an outsider. During my second week I found the library and spent three or more hours there every weekday. The librarians must have recognized how lost I was and found tasks for me to do so I felt useful. They saved up books for me to shelve. I ended up reading Vonnegut, philosophy, and feminist theory as well as many romance novels. I had somewhere to escape to instead of running away, drinking or taking drugs. We were only there six months but it set a pattern for my life. In any town I've ever lived in, I patronize the library and give back as a volunteer or a donor. Through the portal of my local branch, I've traveled all over the world and a few lively spots in the universe. My love of information has never ceased. This summer I will graduate with my doctorate degree, just shy of 50 years old -- something I never could have done without the support of many helpful librarians. Thank you!

-- Amy Gilliland, Madison Monroe Street Branch (05/10) 


The bookmobile is like a meteor falling out of the sky. I like the bookmobile because it is free. It's here all summer on Wednesdays, and Mrs. Holly is so friendly and the other workers. I like it so much.

-- Carli Stevens, Kilbourn Public Library & Bookmobile
(Wisconsin Dells) (05/10) 


I've always loved the library, and the TAB program at the Monona Public Library is so wonderful. TAB stands for Teen Advisory Board, a group that inspires, creates, organizes, and hosts teen programs that also promote literacy, education and communities. Some of the more popular ideas attributed to TAB include the two-day Harry Potter Fest in December, the lock-in, and the monthly newsletter. The TAB coordinator, Toni Streckert, is one of the most fun people I have ever met. I go to the library multiple times a week, and that's my library story!

-- Helen Rottier, Madison Pinney Branch & Monona Public Library (05/10)


PHOTO: CAROL HETZELThe library has always been a part of my life, ever since I was a little girl. It was a safe place to go, and I spent many hours reading about things of interest to me. Later, the more seriously I got into drawing and painting, I went there to find pictures of animals and wildlife to draw from. After I got married, I began making wood patterns for my father-in-law and again I turned to the library for pictures to draw from, and the nice large tables they had gave me the room I needed for the larger patterns. But probably the biggest impact on my life were the computers. I'm 52 years old so I was never exposed to computers, but I became curious and one day they showed me how to put in a dot com and I've been hooked ever since. Learning to e-mail and explore helped me to widen my horizons, looking up valuable health information on my husband's medications, and eventually even meeting friends all over the world with similar interests of mine. I now have a good friend in Huntington Beach, and another in Buenos Aires that I would never have met if it wasn't for computers. I'm still a self-taught amateur but I never dreamed I would have gotten this far. If it wasn't for my public library I would never have gotten started. It's opened up a whole new world for me.

-- Carol Hetzel, Stevens Point (05/10)


The bookmobile is to get books and learn about cool stuff. It has no late fees and Mrs. Holly helps you find the books that you like. That might be animal books. I think Mrs. Holly likes to read books, and it is a library mobile on wheels. The bookmobile is like the world, and is full of books about real animals -- for example, lions, dolphins, monkeys, wolves, huskies and a horse.

-- Caroline Pakos, Kilbourn Public Library & Bookmobile (Wisconsin Dells) (05/10)


My parents died when I was very young, and my sister raised me. She had a job, but every Saturday we would go to the library. When I left home to come to Madison for Nursing School, one of the first things I did was venture out by myself, walking to the Square to find the library and get my library card. Because I was so homesick for my family, the library and reading were my haven. I have had my card for 58 years and still go once a week to the library. My sister, age 95, and I still talk about reading, books, and the library.

--Sarah Sergenian, Madison's Alicia Ashman Branch (05/10)


I love the bookmobile because it has books for all ages. Also, I like the bookmobile because my favorite series of books, Magic Tree House, is in the bookmobile. I use the bookmobile because the books I read from the bookmobile make a lot of sense. Also, they are handy because I can check out books during class time, but on other days besides Friday I have to stay in for recess to check out a book. Plus the bookmobile has books about sports, which I love, and it takes up school time.

-- Sam Mayer, Kilbourn Public Library & Bookmobile (Wisconsin Dells) (05/10)


Summer vacation would not be complete without participating in the children's reading program. It has become a summer ritual along with flip-flops, swimming and ice cream. Every week we stop by to check out new books and redeem goodies for filling out the bingo cards. We fill a big canvas bag with books from the library and throughout the week we read the books one by one. Thanks to the Lodi Library for endless hours of summer time reading!

-- Denise Kruchten, Lodi Woman's Club Public Library (05/10)


I have a daughter of 3 years old, and I visit the library very frequently with her. The library has played a vital role in my child's learning process. We attend story time regularly, where my daughter gets an opportunity to play with other kids before the story time starts. Initially she never used to sit and listen to the story for the complete half-an-hour. But as time went by, she started looking at the other kids who were listening and interacting with the staff who was reading for the kids. Now she likes story time more. She learned good manners. She loves "The more we get together" song in the story time. She learned many things from the books which I read for her regularly. She was not potty trained before. After I showed her the DVD's about potty training from the library and read many books, she understands it and learned quickly. The library staff helped me in finding the right books and DVD's for her. She also likes to solve more puzzles as she is growing, which helps her thinking power. I am very thankful to have such a wonderful library in Stevens Point.

-- Mubeen Sulthana, Stevens Point (05/10) 


The bookmobile is like a magical library. The people on it are friendly. The books are very good. You can pick any books. It is like a world of books. And Miss Holly works there. You can learn from the books. It is a great place to be.

--Weronika Pachniewicz, Kilbourn Public Library & Bookmobile (Wisconsin Dells) (05/10)


My memories of the local library when I was an elementary student are filled with warm, sunlit windows where I sat in wooden rocking chairs, reading and entering another world for awhile. I remember being a new student at UW-Madison in 1985 and seeking a book at Helen C. White library for the first time. There were no hard copy card catalogs at this library, and I contrarily asked where they were in spite of the the computerized system this large university had to offer. Now I am able to navigate the computerized card catalog with ease, but I want to tell you about a special Madison public librarian. My sister, Lori Smetana, moved to Madison, left a career as an RN, and gained a Master's degree in library science, all because she loved books and information and she followed her love. Today she is one of the excellent librarians in the Madison Public Library system. To me, she typifies what is right and great about the public library system: She loves libraries, and books and information and she wants to share that with the patrons. Madison is lucky to have her and all of the other passionate librarians who work in your system.

--Beth Smetana, Alma Center (05/10) 

The library has been instrumental for myself and my children for obtaining materials for personal research and for schoolwork. A large volume of material is at my fingertips for all my needs. The reciprocal lending within the SCLS plays a big part in my usage of the library. My daughter just received an A on a paper that she wrote for her MATC Religion class, using information from books put on hold through the South Central Library System. I have worked for the library for 13 years, and its a wonderful service for the community.

-- Melanie Wichern, E.D. Locke Public Library (McFarland) (05/10)


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