As the calendar flips into a new year, most people move onward and upward. However, while most people are now well settled into 2018, La Crosse County Library, with locations in Bangor, Campbell, Holmen, Onalaska and West Salem, is still lingering in 2017.

This time of year the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction finishes collecting our statistics for the previous year and La Crosse County Finance if busy finishing up the final work on closing up the previous fiscal year. Before we give one last farewell to 2017, I can’t help but take your time to brag about how wonderful our library users really are!

La Crosse County Library locations have our loyal patrons and tax supporters to thank for yet another successful year in library service.

We also need to thank the five municipalities we collaborate with so closely to make this all happen. The Village of Bangor, Town of Campbell, Village of Holmen, City of Onalaska and Village of West Salem make for great partners taking care our buildings and grounds and keeping the lights one. They’ve truly made the commitment to make an investment in these communities and we are grateful to work with them every day.

Of course, it’s hard to beat our top highlight of the year with our new Holmen Library location. It has been some years coming and the Holmen community was ready and willing and now we are fortunate to come to work every day to spectacular surroundings. If you haven’t already done so, please stop by.

People continue to discuss paperless societies and the changing roles of libraries in their communities but building projects like our Holmen Public Library and the continuous improvements that are made at each of our locations each year beg to differ that libraries are definitely not going away. There is no arguing the role of libraries is beginning to change and there is room in that role for both digital and physical resources.

In fact, throughout 2017, La Crosse County Library users downloaded 27,685 eBooks and another 16,122 eAudio books, but physical check-outs still dominated our services with 457,900 physical items checked out the door of our 5 locations. That makes it hard for me to get on the bandwagon that print resources are going completely away any time soon.

In 2017, a total 26,727 people of all ages participated in our programming. From weekly story time and special events the library is more than just the items on the shelves.

Don’t miss our 2018 programming including our current March, March, March of the Bookmarks contest for kids and our Spring Movie series hosted by our Friends of the Onalaska Library on select Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. in Onalaska through June and now also brought to you by our Friends of the West Salem Library on select Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. in West Salem. You can’t beat free feature films on the big screen and free freshly popped popcorn!

Also check-out our newest adult program series in Onalaska sponsored by the Floyd Sias Trust. Our “Floyd’s Senior Moments Program” kicks off this month with weekly programs for learning and entertainment for those over 50. Join us for a great line-up and enjoy some light refreshments each Wednesday at 10:00am at the Onalaska Public Library through May 2.

We certainly continue to mix our traditional services with new ones. Among those services, 7,234 reference questions were answered and 23,510 computer uses completed, our 39,130 registered library users racked up door counts of 278,070 at our five locations.

Our wireless routers were hit 10,996 times throughout 2017 so our traditional services are definitely expanding into new realms and we hope to top many of these numbers for 2018. In fact, you can help us do that. Watch for an upcoming opportunity to share with us what you think and what you want to see from your County Library with our library services survey available later this month.

For more information on any of our upcoming programming and the latest news on services, check-out our website at lacrossecountylibrary.org or like us on Facebook.

We couldn’t be happier to continue our services to our friends and neighbors throughout La Crosse County. If you have not already taken advantage of the services available at your local County library help add to our 2018 statistics today and stop by to see what we’re all about and keep an eye out for our survey opportunity.

Chris McArdle Rojo is the La Crosse County Library Director.

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Coulee Courier and Houston County News editor

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