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Library building turns 20

The Somerset Library is celebrating its 20th year in its current building, which was built in 1993. Pictured at the ribbon cutting for the library building are (from left) Librarian Liliann Bryse, Library Director Norma Scott, library board members Rita Lawson, Joanna Falkofske, Library Board President Kay Walsh, board members Rose Peterson and Nancy Vanasse. (Submitted photo)1 / 4
The Somerset Library is celebrating its 20th year in its current building. Pictured outside the building, which was built in 1993, are (from left) library board treasurer Rita Lawson, librarian Liliann Bryse and Library Director Norma Scott. (Photo by Gretta Stark)2 / 4
The Village of Somerset's maintenance building used to stand where the library now stands on Hood Street. It was torn down after the village built a new maintenance building, and replaced with the Somerset Library. (Submitted photo)3 / 4
Pictured at the groundbreaking of the current library building in 1993 are: (from left) Library board president Kay Walsh, library board member Joanna Falkofske, Cedar Corp representative Guy Sanders, library board member Nancy Vanasse and village board member Don Michaelson. (Submitted photo)4 / 4

When the Somerset Public Library's current building was first built Bill Clinton was president, VHS tapes were popular and the iPhone was unheard of.

The building was built in 1993 on the site of the Village of Somerset's maintenance garage. That summer, the garage was demolished and the construction of the library began. It was completed and opened in October 1993.

While much of the library's appearance and programs have stayed the same, its technology options have changed a great deal, according to Rita Lawson, Somerset Library Board treasurer and Norma Scott, librarian.

"When we built this building, we put outlets in the floor and we tried to anticipate where would we be plugging in computers...," Scott said, "and now, its all changed."

Lawson said the library's services allow people who don't have computers to have access to things like finding jobs in a technology-driven world.

"It's wonderful that the library can offer people that place for them to connect with job offers online," Lawson said, "or to submit their job applications, or to find out information about family in different places and keep connected with the world that they might not be able to afford otherwise."

The library didn't keep records of the number of people who used the library each year in 1993, but in 1995 the library had approximately 13,500 visitors, according to Scott. This past year, Scott said approximately 63,000 people used the library.

Circulation in 1995 was 23,955, including all materials checked in and out of the library. The library's 2012 circulation was more than 61,000 materials checked in and out.

Lawson said seeing how far the library has come in the past 20 years is encouraging.

"It's a wonderful endorsement of the years of work that we've put into it," Lawson said. "It's been really fun to get to know lots of different people and to know that this is a place that anyone can come. It doesn't matter what your politics is, or your status in the world. Everybody and anybody is welcome at the library."

Scott said she hopes the library will continue to meet the needs of the Somerset community as it continues on.

"I would like us to anticipate as best we can what people want and then provide it," Scott said. "Instead of playing catch-up, we want to know what's happening."

Lawson said she hopes the library will have been able to expand its current building by its next big anniversary. The library has already purchased some of the adjoining land to allow for expansion. Lawson said the library board would like to see a larger meeting space in the plans for the new library.

"So we don't have to have our programs... in the middle of the library where people are trying to do their reading or research or computer work," Lawson said. A larger children's area is also on the library's wish list. The library board is working with the Somerset Village Board to make plans for expansion.

To celebrate its "20 years on Hud Street," the library will be hosting events and presentations every afternoon, July 22-26.

On July 22, the library will host a carving presentation by Lowell Peterson. On July 23, the the library will host Margaret Hunt, with a presentation on Japanese sumi-e brush painting, and Rose Peterson with a presentation on watercolor stamping. On July 25, Kris LeRoy will give a presentation on jewelry making. On July 26, Meg Tryba and Kelly Stodola will offer a presentation on quilting.

Also on July 26, Mark Moran, an antiques appraiser who has worked on "Antiques Roadshow," will appraise items at the library from 5 to 8 p.m. People who want items appraised must pre-register by calling 715-247-5228. It is $5 to have an item appraised but event attendance is free.

The library will also have anniversary cake and coffee available.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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