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From the Old to the New — Library Moves into Community Center
by Nancy Brinkman, children's librarian
November 2003

It’s been a busy year for the Rolfe Public Library staff and board, planning committee, city administrators, and volunteers, as they planned, raised funds, painted, varnished, constructed, cleaned, packed, and made hundreds of decisions concerning the newest building on Rolfe's main street. At long last, the library end of the new library/city hall/community center is open for business. Many hours or labor and decision making have gone into the construction, finishing, and furnishing of the new library.

The Construction Process
The community building was framed over the winter months, with work beginning on the library’s interior this summer. Librarians Karen Kerns and Bette Brinkman worked alongside the above mentioned groups to complete this wonderful new library. Initial visits were made to area libraries to get ideas and a vision for Rolfe’s new facility. Many decisions were left up to Karen and Bette, as ones knowing most about the daily function and use of the library. They spent many hours planning and measuring for the location of shelving, computers, desk, and work areas, choosing and ordering paint, carpet, shelving, countertops, and furnishings to try to make the library a warm and welcoming, useful place for its patrons. Communication with the planning committee and library board members also helped "fine tune" some of these decisions. Bill Winkleblack, whom Karen Kerns said "seemed to always be there, working on the library in his ‘spare time‘," spent countless hours in actual construction, overall planning, and coordinating the efforts of volunteers. Also instrumental with many final details and last minute errands were Jim and Nancy Martin, Phil Brinkman.

Volunteers painted, stained, varnished, hung the new computer counter, refinished old furnishings, cleaned , scrubbed years of grime from old shelves and table tops, and willingly completed anything the librarians asked of them. Refreshments for volunteers were furnished by various clubs, women’s groups, and helpful patrons. The new shelves, desk, wall divider and other cabinetry was built by Charlie Ahlrich of Ahlrichs Cabinets, Pocahontas. Charlie does beautiful work and was very accommodating, working with the librarians to make adjustments as is sometimes needed with such a project.

Moving the Books
As we all know, moving our belongings from one location to another is quite a job. This is no less true of a public library. Karen and Bette spent many hours planning the logistics for the actual move, getting ideas from other librarians, and always willing to take any advice offered that would make the job easier. . They drew a floor plan, arranging furniture and new shelves, estimating space needed for and appropriate location of the various literature sections, in order to make the collections convenient and easily accessed. Much prep work was done by volunteers prior to actual moving day. Once again, Jim and Nancy Martin were there with helpful ideas and tools in hand to dismantle old shelving and prepare for the transfer of books and equipment to the new building. Jim wins the award for patience, sometimes having as many as three librarians, his wife, and various by-standers giving advice over his shoulder! He always returned the next day. A big Thank You goes to Bill Kleespies for lending grocery carts to transport items between libraries. It may have looked odd, seeing video tapes, computer keyboards, bookends, and puppets being pushed down the block rather than produce, but many steps and aching backs were saved.

Finally, after much planning and a few nervous jitters, the big days arrived! The saying, "Many hands make light the work" was proven to be very true. Many adult volunteers were in place before 9am both days to get their "marching orders" and procedural instructions for the move. Rolfe Middle School principal, Andy Woiwood generously volunteered the services of PAC 6th, 7th and 8th grade students to move the books. On Wednesday, October 15, nearly seventy 7th and 8th grader students and their teachers formed a human chain to pass books from the old building, where Karen was overseeing the dismanteling, down the block directly into the hands of Bette, who put the books in place. Books were passed hand to hand down the line, a few at a time, keeping them in order to be placed on the new shelves. Thursday another round of volunteers and about forty 6th graders braved the 39 degree chill, most standing outside in a line between the libraries for nearly two hours to complete the task. Cookies and Koolaid were a very small reward for the hours this saved the library staff! A big THANK YOU goes to Mr. Woiwood, who politely refused to return the students to class until the last book was carried into the new building. Thanks to the teachers for giving up class time and standing in line with the students, and of course to the students themselves. They were troupers, chatting, singing, shivering, and reading some of the titles as they passed through their hands. The library staff (and their relatives) wish to thank everyone who helped with this huge, but most important task...moving the books! Without you, some of us would still be walking back and forth between libraries with books in our arms!

Words from the Librarians
Bette Brinkman had this to say, "This project has been very satisfying, to see all of the plans come together to bring this dream to a reality. It’s been a big project for the town, with a lot of people working on it. We wanted to make it as attractive and warm as we could, so that people will use it as a gathering place in the community. We encourage people to stop in to see it and use the services."

Karen Kerns had these comments about the project, "What a rewarding and fun project to be a part of! For me, it was so depressing to witness half a city block coming down. Then the months of emptiness, waiting for the ground to settle, and wondering if the erection of the planned building would ever begin. Driving though main street was like driving through a ghost town. And now-WOW! The town seems to have come alive! We don't have all our furnishings, there are no restrooms, and the front hall is not finished, and those "wonderful, exciting Gates computers are not installed yet, but it’s looking more like what we had hoped for- a warm, friendly, wonderful place to come, visit, browse, read and learn." I can't say enough about the good people of this community. Everybody I have asked has been so willing to give of their time and talents. What a wonderful experience!"

Saying Thank You
No attempt is being made here to thank all who so generously volunteered their finances, time, talents, or energies to this project, for fear of overlooking anyone. A more official Thank You will appear at a later date, when things slow down for the librarians. Please know that everyone’s efforts were greatly appreciated! We can all be proud of the success of this amazing community effort. Though at times the task seemed daunting, many hands did indeed lighten the work for those ultimately responsible. Many more hours will go into completing the community center and city offices. There are still a number of on-going projects to be completed in the coming months, to make the library even more enjoyable and useful for the patrons. The work continues. There’s still time to be a part of this effort.

As the children’s librarian, I took it upon myself to write this article to inform the community about the progress and success of the project. As Karen and Bette continue to be busy with final details in preparation to be "open for business", I met with little resistance. Though they would be the first to say this has totally been a community effort, I’ve taken the liberty of mentioning the part these two tireless ladies have played in planning the beautiful interior and operation of our new library. I can say that I’m just a bit younger than either of them, and I’ve been amazed at their energy level and enthusiasm to see this project through to the end!

I know my children will benefit greatly from having such a great library to call their "own". Like many of you, they have many special memories of the old library…Summer Reading Programs, stopping in to visit Grandma Bette at work, browsing for their favorite books and checking out an armload. But they can’t wait to sit in the spacious, new children’s section and read, color, do puzzles, play with the donated train table, visit with friends, check out the latest junior books, or try out the new computers! I’ll be there with them, excited to be able to plan more children’s programming, now that we have the space!

Invitation to Stop By and Visit
Please stop in and enjoy this beautiful, new facility and it‘s services. Browse, check out a good book or video, read more about the history of Rolfe and Pocahontas County, sign up for time on the computer, visit (quietly) with friends….and marvel at the work that has been accomplished in our small community by its citizens!

Editor's note: We thank Nancy for sending this report that originally was published in the Pocahontas Record-Democrat. We also look forward to her sending some photos of the move and will post them so you can see some of the fun, color, and teamwork of the day.

Painting at top of page by the late Darlene Brinkman, former mayor of Rolfe.

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