The Vaughn Public Library is established under Chapter 43 of the Wisconsin Statutes as a municipal library and it is governed by the Vaughn Public Library Board. Library Board Trustees are appointed by the Mayor. The City of Ashland is the primary funding body of the library. Ashland County provides funding as required by law (ACT150) to fund the use by its residents not living in a community with a library. Bayfield, Iron, Sawyer and Price Counties have recently provided funding as required by law (ACT420) to fund the use of VPL by residents of those counties.
members of the Vaughn Public Library Board, Friends of the Vaughn Board, Vaughn Public Library Foundation and Library Director Shirley Miller met monthly for several months to update the strategic plan for the Vaughn Public Library, facilitated by Tom Wojciechowski of UW-Extension. Library Staff met twice with the facilitator to provide input to the plan. The document will be published on the library website when it is completed.
In 1991, the Vaughn Library completed its first long-range plan and a new plan was written in 1996. In late 2000, the Vaughn Library Board appointed a committee to review the 1996 plan and revise it as necessary. Committee members include Anne Nelson (community representative), Kathryn Teener (community representative), MaryJo Holzhaeuser (library board representative), Ward Simpson (library board representative), Marie Johnson (Friends of the Library representative), Kim Westman (staff representative), and Jim Trojanowski (library director).
The first two planning processes used surveys to determine the priorities of the library. This committee chose to rely on other information rather than a survey. The two primary tools used in this plan are the Wisconsin Public Library Standards and comparative data on a list of libraries the committee selected as its peers.
Peer libraries were chosen based upon a combination of the size of the communities in which they are located and the size of the total population they serve. An effort was also made to insure that most of the peers were in rural areas. Peer libraries are: Aram Public Library (Delavan), Hartland Public Library, Monona Public Library, Platteville Public Library, WJ Neiderkorn Public Library (Port Washington), Reedsburg Public Library, Ripon Public Library, Sparta Free Library, Tomah Public Library, and Waupun Public Library.
At meetings throughout the year, the committee reviewed the Wisconsin Public Library Standards and the comparative data to assess the quality of service at the Vaughn Library and determine strengths and areas that need improvement. The observations made in these meetings were used to create a list of priorities, which were further refined at later meetings.
Emeline Patrick Vaughn provided the funds to build the Vaughn Library in her husband's memory after his death in 1886. Samuel Stuart Vaughn was one of the first Yankees to settle near Lake Superior. He owned and operated several business' in the area and laid out Vaughn's Subdivision in Ashland.
Emeline was astute enough to provide for the library with money ftom the F.J. Pool Company on the first floor (the library was located on the second floor) and offices on the third floor of the building. Thanks to this arrangement Ashland's library paid for itself until the Depression of the 1930s. At that time although the building was still owned by the Vaughn Library Foundation, $6,620 in operating expenses began to be paid for by the City of Ashland. The appropriation remained the same for years until the city provided $14,145 to hire a full time librarian. In 1937, the library moved to the ground floor when Pool's store closed and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) moved into the second floor area.
When the building fell into serious disrepair in the 1980s, the City hired an architectural firm to examine the library itself: other possible sites at which the library could be located, and possible sites and costs for building a new building. The Council put the matter to a vote in 1982 and citizens chose to renovate the first and second floors of this building at a cost of $500,000. The basement was later remodeled with in-house employees and the third floor remodeled later by wee crews.
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