Deer Park library celebrates 20 years with renovations

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For the last 20 years, the Deer Park library — which has been around for over three decades — has been located at 112 Front St. W. Before that, it was housed in part of Al's Repair Shop, the old village hall and the old bank building.

"For a community this size, I think it is pretty phenomenal — especially given all the discussion going on in New Richmond about getting a new building — that we have something this nice here in our small town," said library director Barb Krueger. "We serve residents from both St. Croix County and Polk County. Deer Park was one of the original libraries in the MORE system."

Deer Park — which is home to 216 residents — is the smallest municipality in Wisconsin to have a public library, Krueger said. The library operates out of a 3,400-square-foot space and offers high-speed internet access as well as extensive software and material for all ages. The Deer Park library, according to Krueger, had dial up internet access three years before the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library in Eau Claire. The dial up service has since been replaced by a direct T1 line, which is available on four computers in the building.

"It is impressive that the village has been willing and able to maintain the library throughout the years," said Krueger who has been director for a year and a half. "The other thing that allows us to stay open is people using the library. People keep saying asking why we need libraries, and I'd tell them that we are much more than a library. We are a community center that people use for so many things. It is available for everyone, from the young to the elders. It is community outreach."

After 20 years at its current location, the library board decided that it was time to do some updating to the interior of the building. So this spring, a group of volunteers spent a day moving all the items in the library to the meeting space and another day to move the items back into the library proper.

"This spring, we decided, after 20 years, that we wanted to make sure we were maintaining the space and keeping it updated," Krueger said. "There were funds in our memorial donation account and we decided to use those funds for new paint, new carpet and flooring in the meeting room.

"I can't say how great our volunteers are, who are willing to give their time to help us out."

The Deer Park library serves residents of Deer Park, Cylon, Stanton, Alden Township and some from Forest Township, as well as other residents in the immediate area of Deer Park. Deer Park's library to population ratio is 1 to 1,000, which is well about the favorable average ratio of 1 to 10,0000. The library is part of the Western Wisconsin MORE network.

"We have a wishlist of things we'd like to add, especially technology wise. But you have to think about the fact that the size of the library can't be what dictates innovation or stops you from being willing to do new things," Krueger said.

The library has a large collection of children's books as well as a collection of puppets that go with certain books. The library also has a large selection of magazines and print periodicals on unique topics, including coding and arts and crafts.

"We have large print, inspirational and a unique collection that was donated to us, by a former resident, of the classics," Krueger said. "They don't get taken out a lot, but I think that is mostly because people don't know about them and the fact that they aren't in the system yet."

Along with all of the library events that take place in the current space, the library also serves as the meeting space for the Deer Park Village Board, 4-H groups and Cub Scout groups.