News: Neillsville Public Library (Over 100 Years – 2012)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Gustavson

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 4/11/2012

Neillsville Public Library (Served City for Over 100 Years – 2012)

Jo Ann Gustavson, library director for the Neillsville Public Library, is still just as pleased with her job as she was the day she started work. During National Library Week, she plans on having fun remembering her many fulfilling past years serving the people of Neillsville and Clark County. The library currently employs five other people at the library desk and two custodians. Tony Opelt/Clark County Press

By Tony Opelt

The Neillsville Public Library is over 100 years old and continues to serve the community well. This week, April 8-14, is National Library Week, and while the library does not have any scheduled events to celebrate, the people of Neillsville should celebrate the staff’s contributions to the city of Neillsville.

The library was founded in 1893. It was originally located in an attorney’s office, and after moving several different times throughout its history, the library came to reside in its current location in the early 1930s. The original yearly fee was $1, while a lifetime membership cost $10, and a yearly membership for schools was 25 cents. From those humble beginnings, the library now houses over 24,000 books, nearly 600 audiobooks and over 3,200 videos, along with over 100 reels of the Clark County Press on microfilm.

Jo Ann Gustavson has been the library director for several years, and she is incredibly happy with her job. Saying it is her “dream job,” she first worked nine years as a library aide in Greenwood, and six months as an aide in Granton before getting a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Superior through their correspondence school and later a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her first day of work at Neillsville Public Library was March 1, 2001.

“I’m a people person,” Gustavson said. “When I had surgery, I still popped in a few times a week to see how the library was doing without me.”

Most recently, the library switched its systems to a more modern method of keeping track of its books and members. While the transition has not been without bugs and problems, it is helping the library tremendously and will continue to be a worthwhile shift for years to come.

“People used to have to wait at least a week for an ordered book to come in,” Gustavson said. “Now, it’s a matter of days. People are always amazed at how fast the books arrive.”

The new system has ensured the library is staying up to date technologically, with reassurances from Gustavson other libraries are switching to the same system Neillsville is currently using. The Neillsville Public Library is ahead of the curve in that aspect, which bodes well for its future. While the library could always use more space with its ever-growing collection of titles, the staff is content with everything about the library.

As far as memories from her nine years serving the people of Neillsville and Clark County, Gustavson says her favorite memories are, “Calling people when a book comes in. I can always hear how happy they are.”

The Neillsville Public Library, which will be 119 years old this year, had over 62,000 items checked out in 2011, and over 7,100 people used their public access computers.



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