The public has been invited to take part in the grand opening of Waunakee’s new public library next week, when the long-awaited facility opens its doors for the first time.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled for Aug. 1, at 2 p.m.
“It’s going to be a pretty modest affair,” said library director Erick Plumb. “We’ll cut the ribbon, and then let people in. The idea for the first day is, essentially, everyone who wants can have a privatized tour from library staff to see what their tax dollars have paid for.”
He said staff members will be giving tours, free-of-charge, until 6 p.m.
“It really is a public event,” Plumb said. “And the reason why it’s from 2 to 6, as opposed to earlier in the day, is we still wanted to give people who work the opportunity to come.”
The director said it’s important that the public is familiar with the facility.
“It’s a big building,” Plumb said. “There’s a lot of cool features. So it’ll give us a chance to really show off what the building is and what it does. Every one of staff will be working that day, and people can poke around. But if they want to be shown around, we’ll be doing that too.”
Plumb said visitors will be able to view areas that may be closed off during normal hours as well, such as an executive boardroom and large conference room on the lower level.
“We have all these different event spaces that are going to be locked a lot of the time when we’re open,” Plumb said. “There won’t be another chance to see them, unless you actually are in that space. So this is a good chance to see everything that we have.”
He said such rooms are, in fact, the major difference between the two facilities.
“The big change between the libraries is that there’s just an enormous amount of meeting space,” Plumb said. “We have spaces for two people, and we have spaces for 200 people. We have little study rooms with three chairs, and then you have the community hall that can fit 200 people.”
Guests could also get their first glimpse of the new, state-of-the-art Technology Hub on the second floor of the building – where more than a dozen computers will be publicly available.
The director said, like everything else, it is designed to meet the needs of a changing community.
“That’s kind of the big key to this building,” Plumb said. “As library services change, as Waunakee changes, and as technology changes, this building can adapt to it. And unlike the Village Center, it can easily be expanded. Off one wing, it can go out another 8,000 square feet.”
Village president Todd Schmidt said such attributes make the new library a dream come true, and something that the community should be able to enjoy for a long time to come.
“It’s a ‘wow’ kind of building,” Schmidt said. “Our architects, OPN, did a really interesting job. And it’s worth noting how they took this building and aligned it with the creek, and the topography of the property.”
A walking trail alongside Six Mile Creek has been added as an external feature of the site.
“The outside space gives an opportunity to enjoy what is a really nice setting,” Schmidt said. “There’s space for outdoor seating, and outdoor gatherings. And there’s going to be a little playground there. So physically, the exterior space gives people more options, too.”
Schmidt said those options are but a few of the many things to be thankful for in terms of the new library, and why community members can think of next week’s event as a celebration.
“The goal is to celebrate,” Schmidt said, “and give everybody reasons to want to come in and join the library. So many people have been party to this library effort, and it goes back umpteen years. And as it’s drawn closer over the past couple years, many other parties got involved.”
He said the individuals involved in that effort will be recognized at the opening ceremony.
Schmidt said the day’s speakers include Jean Elvekrog and Geoff Vine, from the library board, village president Chris Zellner and a representative from the general contractor Vogel Brothers.
“It’s a massive batch of individuals, groups and organizations that were part of what brought this all together,” Schmidt said. “So the grand opening is really about inviting and having all of those people in the same place at once, to give everybody a high-five for all they’ve achieved.”