A project the staff of L.D. Fargo Public Library began in February will soon come to fruition. A StoryWalk is expected to be ready for public access Oct. 1 in Wallace Park. The walk will be a permanent amenity in the park and available year-round.
“We actually did a temporary StoryWalk around the library last year,” said Children’s Librarian Becca Feirer said. “At that time, with COVID, we wanted something people could do more socially distanced and be outside.”
At the time, Feirer asked the Lake Mills parks board to see if the activity could be hosted at a community park but was informed it could take a bit before the StoryWalk would be approved. However, the idea stayed with the children’s librarian who thought it would be nice if a permanent StoryWalk could be constructed.
The children’s librarian said the feedback from the temporary walk was overwhelmingly positive.
The L.D. Fargo Library’s StoryWalk at Wallace Park will consist of 24 panels located on posts where laminated pages from children’s picture books will be displayed. The inaugural book posted on the walk will be “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”; library staff plans to typically switch out stories approximately every three months.
The city parks department will be responsible for maintaining the nature path the signs are located on while the library staff will be responsible for the content of the posts.
Youth Librarian Brianna Adams said the hope was to have the StoryWalk prepared and opened during the summer months since staff knew there would be no in-person programs, but the process to install was pushed back a bit as the library needed to go through various municipal boards and obtain funding.
Initially, Feirer considered having the activity in Commons Park due to its proximity to the library but when staff reviewed the location further, felt there was a lot of activity in the downtown park.
“We were worried our signs might get damaged or get in the way (during existing events),” the children’s librarian said.
Adams suggested Wallace Park after the library began some outreach to the city’s Spanish-speaking population, many of whom live in the neighborhoods near the park. The library was encouraging those families to visit the library, but found there were barriers such as transportation.
“We thought that the best way to get the kids (who live in that area) library service was to have something in their neighborhood,” the youth services librarian said.
Furthermore, a daycare is located across the street from the park and families go to Wallace Park to watch youth baseball games and use the playground equipment.
“And then when we walked the trail there (where the StoryWalk signs will be posted), it just seemed perfect,” Feirer said.
Adams indicated not only would the StoryWalk be a draw for local library patrons, but could attract out of town visitors as well.
The StoryWalk has received a lot of local support; the Lake Mills Community Foundation provided a $5,000 grant to pay for the signage, a local Eagle Scout is creating an information kiosk, the Friends of the Library will purchase copies of the books being posted on the signs, and library staff are looking to see if a local school organization would be willing to install the posts.
“We’re just so excited to open this up,” said Adams, “and have people visit.”