APL Kids

Fine Print Sneak Peek: Community and Economic Development of a New Library

There are as many different definitions and meanings of community and economic development as there are people who practice these professions. The definition from the Economic Development Handbook states, “from a public perspective, local economic development involves the allocation of limited resources-land, labor, capitol and entrepreneurship in a way that has a positive effect on the level of business activity, employment, income distribution patterns and fiscal solvency”.

There is a difference between community development and economic development.

The United Nations defines community development broadly as "a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems". Community well-being (economic, social, environmental and cultural) often evolves from this type of collective action being taken at a grassroots level and it is the process for making a community a better place to live and work.

The Appleton Public Library building project began six years ago. This project is many things, including both an economic and community development project. APL’s building project is an essential strategy to the vitality of our city from the stand point of financial growth as well as quality of life.

One of the most important tasks to the success of this project is a critical approach to the site selection process. Usage of library services is but one measurement to success and like other economic development projects, success will be determined by where the facility is located. This crucial task of site evaluation and selection was critically and thoroughly approached by the Appleton Public Library and involved numerous community stakeholders and industry professionals.

Downtown Appleton is a successful and thriving downtown, defined by College Avenue, resulting in a narrow, linear focal point with the areas on the periphery not as prominently highlighted. The proposed site between Lawrence, Oneida and Morrison does something no other proposed location could do. Building the Appleton Public Library on this site will expand the depth to downtown beyond that narrow strip while increasing connectivity raising awareness of surrounding businesses and community amenities as the library provides state of the art services to a projected 2,200 customers daily. This infusion of vibrancy, vitality and activity will be noticeable from College Avenue.

The visibility of this location from our newly renovated Houdini and City Center Plazas encourages multi modal transportation between multiple community destinations. No other site will add this visible depth simply because of existing structures. From the south, this is an engaging location that serves as the gateway to the city and will play a major role in defining the skyline for Appleton. An inspiring prominent civic structure such as the public library, filling that skyline location, would be an inviting and welcoming gateway feature.

Downtown Appleton is a fascinating place to look at from a development and construction standpoint. Historically a large ravine stretched through much of downtown. Today much of that area has been filled and developed but you can still see evidence in Arbutus Park and Jones Park. That ravine leaves challenges to construction throughout much of downtown, especially in the area between those parks, but those challenges are not insurmountable.

The proposed location sits atop a bluff that overlooks the flats which served as the foundation of innovation and industry in Appleton's early years. While an elevation differential such as this can provide development challenges, it also provides opportunities. Building the library on this site provides the opportunity to bridge the 46 foot elevation differential finally connecting the riverfront, flats area from our current downtown to the Historic Fox River Mills and to Jones Park. Providing connectivity to these areas is a priority for the City of Appleton and Appleton Downtown Incorporated, and the library project will give the City of Appleton the ability to work in earnest to pursue linkages between downtown and the riverfront. If we design a connection from downtown to the flats and Jones Park we will achieve connectivity to both ends of the central business district and provide real opportunities to put a lasting imprint on how we want our downtown to be positioned for the future in terms of walk ability, connectivity and urbanism - all important elements in attracting economic development and achieving community development.

The proposed location also has valuable synergies with neighboring institutions such as the YMCA, Lawrence University, Fox Valley Family Medicine Residency Program and other neighboring businesses, because the library's presence in this area will provide a willing collaborative partner and a destination anchor to this part of downtown in a manner that strengthens visitor traffic without serving as competition to the businesses and services in the area. It will also allow long standing parking needs for this area of downtown to be addressed in partnership as well as provide solutions and the impetus change and improved access along Lawrence resulting in safer passage for both pedestrians as well as vehicular traffic.

Of the 17 locations evaluated for the potential future site for the library, this particular proposed location is the only one that provides the vibrancy, effectiveness and efficiency to answer all these issues. The length of this article precludes me from sharing each criteria evaluated while assessing the proposed site, but I encourage you to review the criteria matrix created to evaluate all the potential sites. The library’s lengthy and thorough participatory engagement process provided them with context to provide a solution for the library’s needs that also worked to strengthen downtown, connect to the riverfront through the flats and work in partnership to solve other community problems while providing us with a library that addresses current and future needs.

Karen Harnkess, City of Appleton Director of Community and Economic Development

Children's Fall/Winter 2014 Events and Classes

Our Fall/Winter 2014 Children's Services Classes and Events Booklet is now available online. Take a peek at all of our fun fall and winter plans including our regular class schedule, as well as special performers such as Pete the Cat and an author visit by Julie Mata!

Paper copies are also available in Children's Services.

I Scream for Reading!

August 4 - September 12

Kids, receive delicious rewards for reading! Starting August 4, visit the library and check out or read a book a total of four times before September 12 to receive a coupon for a free kid's ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery in Appleton! Quantities of coupons are limited. Keep track of the titles of the books you read to write on Cold Stone's coupon. I Scream for Reading is sponsored by Cold Stone Creamery and Appleton Public Library. Thank you to Cold Stone Creamery for supporting reading and the Appleton Public Library.

I Scream for Reading is for children in grade 6 and younger. Please register at the Children's Services Desk. Once you register, you will receive a stamp card to keep track of how many times you visit the library.  

What Do Babies Actually See?

Look through the eyes of a newborn using a website feature from the PBS series, "The Secret Life of the Brain". View a photo from the visual perspective of a baby at various age markers and see how it compares to what an adult sees. The development of vision should influence how you select books and props for your baby to see.  We recommend that you select bold black and white board books for newborns to 3 months.  Select board books with large pictures of baby faces at 3 months. For more tips like this go to Growing Wisconsin Readers.



Family R.E.A.D.

We just wrapped up another successful Family R.E.A.D. program! Family R.E.A.D. (Read Eat And Discover) is an intergenerational literacy program that aims to help families feel comfortable reading and discussing books together. This child-driven program made reading a daily habit, which in turn assisted children to read proficiently at their grade level. This curriculum served families with literacy concerns, many of whom are English language learners.

The entire family was invited to come to the Appleton Public Library for a free meal, followed by book discussion and interactive program. Every week families also received books to read together to get ready for the program, which they get to keep. Every child was also able to choose a new book to keep for their home library.

The meal is an integral part of the program. We were able to provide a nutritious meal through a generous donations and in turn the children and their parents are were no longer hungry and were able to focus on the tasks at hand. By removing the barrier, they were better prepared to participate in the play and discussion portions of the program. We would like to extend our gratitude to the following businesses who graciously provided the meals to the families every week: Noodles & Company - E. Calumet Street, Mai's Deli, Mi Casa Mexican Grill, Pizza Hut - S. Oneida Street, Subway - W. College Avenue, and Walmart Supercenter - E. Calumet Street.

Many thanks to BMO Harris and Friends of the Appleton Public Library for your generous financial support for this program. Also, Family R.E.A.D. would not be possible without the dedicated collaborative efforts of our partner with Family Literacy, Kris Clouthier who represents the Fox Valley Technical College and the Appleton Area School District. We'd also like to give a special thanks to all of our dedicated volunteers; Paul Kowald, Hayden Holz, Jackson Yang, Eliza Carmen, Danielle Zeamer, Tania Shook, Marisol Encarnacion, Molly Quigley, Marsha Dawson, Ashley Kain, Annie Geurts, Polina Konovalova, Yvonne Hutcheon, Catiel Galindo and Enedelia Martel.


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