Questions remain as MCPL pushes for library system switch
Story By Cooper Henckel
Local News Published 01/27/2021 6:16PM, Last Updated 01/27/2021 6:35PM
Northwoods - Some changes could be coming to libraries all across the Northwoods and NorthCentral Wisconsin after the Marathon County Library's Board of Trustees voted 4-to-3 Monday to move forward with plans to withdraw from its current library system, and join another. Proponents claim the move could open access to more resources from further downstate while opponents, like Wisconsin Valley Library Service Deputy Director Josh Klingbeil says data shows, the change would do exactly the opposite.
"Where is the evidence and the data showing that any of those assertions are accurate or that there would be any benefit to MCPL leaving when everything clearly shows that the benefits are in staying," says Klingbeil.
Currently, Marathon County Public Library is the "resource library" for the Wisconsin Valley Library Service. Oneida, Forest, Lincoln, Langlade, Taylor, and Clark Counties all feed into MCPL.
"And so those smaller libraries rely on the expertise of the larger ones and it's one of which resource libraries are typically very happy to share," says Antigo Public Library Director Dominic Frandrup.
MCPL's departure could be a big loss for the counties feeding into it but WVLS Deputy Director Joshua Klingbeil says Marathon County residents would lose out too.
Klingbeil explains it like this: right now MCPL is the big library in the system, with more demand than its rural counterparts. In joining the South Central Library System, MCPL would go from central hub to "basically pushing materials down out of Marathon County into the south-central population because the demand, the usage, everything about it is higher."
Residents in Southern Marathon County do cross systems now but if MCPL leaves, the West and Northern parts of the Marathon County would run into the same problem.
"Antigo isn't alone in having a library on the border of Marathon County. Abbotsford and Colby -- the Marathon County line runs through both of those towns and their libraries are just on the other side of the marathon county line," says Frandrup.
The issue will now go before the Marathon County Board for the final decision. Concerned residents on either side of the issue can submit letters or request to speak at the public session in February.
You can find links to public records and responses from the board as well as data released on the Wisconsin Valley Library System website: https://wvls.org/mcpl-system-exploration/