On November 16, 1888, Emeline Vaughn gave Ashland a new library, to be governed by the Vaughn Library Association, in memory of her husband, Samuel Vaughn. The Vaughn Library was located on the second floor of a three story building. Rental income from the F.J. Pool Company on the first floor and office space on the third floor funded the library’s operations.
In 1937, the library moved to the first floor to open space for the Works Progress Administration. The resulting loss of income from the former rental space nearly closed the library; however, the City of Ashland appropriated $6,620 to keep the library open. The funding level remained the same until 1955, when the amount was increased to $14,145, and the library hired its first full-time librarian. In 1983, the library was renovated, the Vaughn Library Association dissolved, and the Library Board became an appointed body, governing the library under Chapter 43 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
The Vaughn Library is established under Chapter 43 of the Wisconsin Statutes as a municipal library and it is governed by the Vaughn Municipal Library Board. The City of Ashland is the primary funding body of the library, although Ashland County provides funding as required by law to fund the use by its residents not living in a community with a library.
The Vaughn Public Library today
As of December, 2001, the Vaughn Library had 7,200 registered borrowers. About half the borrowers live outside of the City of Ashland and nearly one-third of borrowers living in Bayfield County. In 2001, the library circulated 141,000 items, held 32,000 items and offered public Internet access. The library automated its circulation, catalog, and other functions in January, 2000.
The Vaughn Library is governed by a Board of seven members, appointed by the Mayor of the City of Ashland. The board has the statutory authority to hire the librarian, set policy, and administer the budget. The librarian appoints the staff and works with the staff to oversee the daily operation of the library.
Library Mission Statement
The Mission of the Vaughn Public Library is, "To be the community's gathering place that provides access to information, resources and endless possiblities for all (2010)".
The library recognizes the need to limit its focus in order to provide quality service. It has therefore chosen the following two roles, listed in order of priority. These roles help provide a vision for future services at the Vaughn Library.
Popular Materials Center: The Vaughn Library will feature current, high-demand materials in a variety of formats for patrons of all ages. Use of the library will be encouraged through an arrangement of materials that facilitates browsing. Good signage, comfortable seating, and a central location also encourage use of the library. The collection will be kept current; much of it will be made of materials purchased within the last five years. The staff will observe popular interests and follow publishing trends to anticipate “hot” titles and make them available promptly.
Childrens’ Door to Learning: The Vaughn Library will encourage reading and study by all children by emphasizing collection development and programming targeted to those under age 14. One-third of the library’s annual materials budget will be spent on the children’s collection, and a weekly story hour and annual summer reading program will lead the list of regular programming. Tours for school classes, scouts, and other groups, and staff visits to area schools will encourage children to use the library. A bright, attractive children’s area and story hour room will be the center of children’s services. Shelving purchased with children in mind will enable young people to have the easiest possible access to materials and encourage them to explore the collection.
As the planning committee reviewed the standards and data from its peer libraries, it quickly became obvious that the library is limited by its current facility. The library is no longer able to add new services or collections without eliminating current ones, many of its collections are far smaller than those of peer libraries, there is limited parking, almost no display space, and meeting room and public seating space is inadequate. Evidence of this includes:
• The largest meeting room seats just 25 people comfortably; even then, the space is cramped and some in the audience have an obstructed view. While the room is large enough to hold more people, support pillars divide the room in half and limit its usefulness.
• Parking on Vaughn Avenue exists for just 14 vehicles. On weekdays, anywhere from three to five of these spaces are occupied by employees of downtown employers at any given time. Older patrons and people with young children often say they would use the library more often if there was more adequate parking.
• Public seating exists for just 24 people. Patrons are often reluctant to share a table or sofa with people they do not know, so one person may occupy a table with four seats or a sofa. The effect is far fewer people can be seated at any given time.
• The Vaughn Library holds just 32,000 items. Peer libraries hold an average of 47,000, or over 50% more. As a result, the turnover rate for materials in the Vaughn Library is 4; in the average peer library it is just 2.6. Circulation increases will be difficult if the collection cannot grow in size.
• In 2001, the library cut its reference collection by one-third in order to add a collection of books on compact disk. If the library increases the size of other collections significantly or adds new ones, it will be forced to significantly cut or eliminate one or more additional areas.
• The library offers just three public Internet workstations and no additional computer-based services (at the time the plan was written, the library had plans to add a fourth public Internet workstation). Just as adding to collections will mean cutting other areas in the future, the same is true of technology-based services.
The committee notes that the City has recently built a new Public Works Garage, a new Leisure Services facility, and is planning a Public Safety Center. As a result, the City may not be ready to build a library. The plan has been written with this in mind, and the goals within it are designed to make the best possible use of the existing space. However, a list of goals that can only be achieved within a new facility are listed as future considerations.
Goal 1: Improve air conditioning
Objective 1.1: Add central air-conditioning units to more effectively cool the north half of the first floor and the second floor of the library.
Goal 2: Purchase new shelving for print and non-print materials as needed.
Objective 2.1: Evaluate the collection annually and budget for shelving for new or expanding collections as necessary.
Objective 2.2: Weed the entire collection annually to insure that only the most-demanded items are retained in order to reduce the need for new shelving.
Goal 3: Maintain an attractive library.
Objective 3.1: Create a cleaning and maintenance schedule for the library and its furniture.
Objective 3.2: Purchase new artwork for the library.
Goal 4: Maximize availability of parking near the library.
Objective 4.1: Work with other employers near the library to ensure that downtown employees park in lots away from Main Street and Vaughn Avenue.
Objective 4.2: Promote the availability of free public parking at the Civic Center and in the lot across Main Street from City Hall.
Objective 4.3: Encourage the City of Ashland to purchase the Barron’s property once it is available for sale and develop it as public parking.
• Develop an outdoor greenspace suitable for use during story hours and for public programming.
• Create a lot for designated off-street parking for library patrons.
• Create an in-library space for displays, both by the library and by public groups.
• Create a distinct and separate children’s area.
• Add space for public seating.
• Add space for small group study.
• Add meeting space.
Goal 1: Create the broadest possible funding base for the library in order to assure a stable budget.
Objective 1.1: Work with other interested library groups for legislation which solves the problem of non-resident borrowing.
Objective 1.2: Seek funding from Bayfield County for services provided to its residents.
Goal 2: Seek outside funding to enhance the quality and quantity of services provided by the Vaughn Library and to pilot potential new programs.
Objective 2.1: Evaluate the needs of library patrons and potential library patrons annually and seek grants for new or improved services as necessary.
Objective 2.2: Monitor the availability of grant opportunities available and apply for those that meet the needs of the Vaughn Library and its community.
Objective 2.3: Develop a planned giving program for the Vaughn Library Foundation.
Goal 1: Continue to develop staff use of new technology
Objective 1.1: Provide training for staff on hardware and software used in-house.
Goal 2: Monitor the need for additional technology-based services.
Objective 2.1: Develop a method for counting use of technology. Such measurement should include, but is not limited to, patron use of public Internet workstations, visits to the Vaughn Library website, and remote use of the Vaughn Library catalog.
Objective 2.2: Investigate the use of wireless technology as a way of adding public workstations.
Goal 3: Use technology to promote the Vaughn Library.
Objective 3.1: Actively maintain the Vaughn Library website. Provide a regularly-updated schedule of library events, check links to insure that they are live, and add new links as appropriate.
Objective 3.2: Develop a child-friendly interface for the Vaughn Library website and catalog.
Goal 4: Make the best-possible use of the library automation software used by the library.
Objective 4.1: Encourage the vendor to develop enhancements that will enable the library to better serve its patrons.
Objective 4.2: Implement enhancements made available in software upgrades in order to improve service.
• Add public access workstations.
• Make applications software available on library computers.
• Create a computer lab for staff and public instruction.
Goal 1: Library board and library director actively monitor progress made toward annual and long-range goals and objectives.
Objective 1.1: Library director reports to board twice per year on progress toward annual goals and objectives.
Objective 1.2: Library director reports annually on progress toward long-range goals and objectives.
Goal 2: Library board and director study on-going national, statewide, and local trends as they pertain to library services.
Objective 2.1: Library director reports on an area of library service and leads a discussion on it at each board meeting.
Goal 3: Develop and enhance partnerships with other community agencies.
Objective 3.1: Enhance the working relationship between the Vaughn Library and the Dexter Library at Northland College.
Objective 3.2: Seek a closer working relationship between the Vaughn Library and school libraries in Ashland.
Objective 3.3: Create a relationship with appropriate WITC departments, particularly the library and technology lab.
Objective 3.4: Continue to develop the partnership with the elementary school reading teachers begun with Prime Time.
Objective 3.4: Seek opportunities to develop new partnerships and enhance old ones as appropriate.
Goal 4: Increase public awareness of the Vaughn Public Library and its services.
Objective 4.1: Evaluate current publicity methods and create new methods as necessary.
• Evaluate how community partnerships affect space needs.
Goal 1: Continue to develop children’s services as a focus of the Vaughn Library.
Objective 1.1: Continue to develop new programs and refresh old ones.
Objective 1.2: Continue to focus on children’s and family literacy programming.
Goal 2: Seek ways to reach underserved populations.
Objective 2.1: Apply for grants as a way to develop pilot projects appropriate for the Vaughn Library and its community.
• Space for outdoor programs.
• Large, sound-proof room for indoor-library programs.
• Separate and distinct area for children’s services.
• Furniture designed for children.
Goal 1: Seek ways to reach underserved populations.
Objective 1.1: Continue outreach services to Ashland nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, developing new services as appropriate.
Objective 1.2: Apply for grants as a way to develop pilot projects appropriate for the Vaughn Library and its community.
Goal 2: Improve outreach services for adults.
Objective 2.1: Create new adult programming opportunities and develop old ones.
• Large, sound-proof room for indoor-library programs.
• Space for outdoor programs.
Goal 1: Continue to actively maintain a current collection.
Objective 1.1: Weed the collection annually.
Objective 1.2: Evaluate the need for new or expanded collections annually and, as appropriate, create and expand them.
• Adequate shelving to avoid placing library materials above eye level and below knee level for an adult of average height.
• Space for expansion of current collections and addition of new collections without the need to weed old materials still appropriate for the library.