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(Left to right) Maggie Strittmater, Adult Programming and Outreach coordinator, board member Carson Labelle, Library Director Trina Erickson, Dr. Darrell L. Williams and Viroqua Mayor Justin Running

DPI Assistant State Superintendent makes a visit to the McIntosh Memorial Library in Viroqua

VIROQUA, Wis. – On Friday, April 26 Dr. Darrell L. Williams, Assistant State Superintendent for the Division for Libraries and Technology took a tour of Viroqua’s McIntosh Memorial Library. The tour included meeting with library staff, hearing about the libraries programming, visiting with library board members and Viroqua Mayor Justin Running.

April is School Library Month, and National Library Week was observed April 7-13 and Williams’ trip to Viroqua was part of his statewide tour of libraries.

Dr. Darrell L. Williams and Viroqua Mayor Justin Running – Williams said Running’s visit is the first time a mayor attend one his library tours in the whole state

Williams toured the library with Maggie Strittmater, Adult Programming and Outreach coordinator who gave Williams a rundown of the libraries programs and outreach efforts. Williams said he understands how vitally important libraries are in rural communities.

Maggie Strittmater, McIntosh Memorial Library Adult Programming and Outreach coordinator

“I tell everybody the library is the most important place in any school or community,” said Williams. ‘Its the only place you can go everywhere without having to go anywhere.”

Williams said part of the reason for the tour was to have libraries give him feedback.

“I want to know what are the things that make you say ‘those folks at DPI just don’t get it'”, said Williams.

Strittmater said she hopes DPI understands that libraries like the McIntosh Library are spaces for more than books, they are the center of activity and a safe place to go.

“We have a community that understands that we’re the center in a lot of ways for our community we’re the location that people come to and how we can support that,” said Strittmater.

“Whenever the budget time comes around, you have to make difficult choices and we try to encourage everybody that the librarians place that,” said Williams. “Somewhere within the community, every school district I’ve gone to, some maybe better be doing better academically, but at the end of the day, if you’re going to improve literacy scores and academic achievement, the library plays a major role. So that makes a difference to us. And all the conversations with people always talk about feeling this book and that book. Our stance is that while you may not read every book in the library, there should be a book for everybody  in the library.”

“Our stance is that while you may not read every book in the library, there should be a book for everybody  in the library”

Dr. Darrell L. Williams, Assistant State Superintendent for the Division for Libraries and Technology

Williams said he has many stories about how libraries have change lives.

“A student told me in this high school student getting ready to go off to college, they didn’t have a computer at home,” said Williams. “He said if it wasn’t for the library and access, he wouldn’t be able to finish many of his projects and have access to filling out things online. We just can’t assume that everybody has the same resources and so forth. So the library plays a major role.”

Library Director Trina Erickson said asked that Williams keep in mind that it is sometimes hard to compete with the bigger libraries in bigger cities.

McIntosh Memorial Library Director Trina Erickson

“We appreciate you recognizing the value of small rural libraries by coming to our community. We’re not as loud as the big ones,” said Erickson

“Let me tell you something,” said Williams. “I don’t know any place more rural than Abbeville Miss., 316 people in my hometown, no library, and we have to go to Oxford Miss. which is about 15 miles up the road to have that type of access. So, I know the value that it has for a community like this. I think I was telling this, I’m just going to say this. We go into larger spaces that doesn’t have as much activity as this. And when we come to a place like this where you see so much activity, it really speaks to the value and that people see the value of libraries within the community and their children.”

Williams said the fact that the McIntosh Library received the award for state library of the year in 2022 is “a testament to the difference you are making here in this community”.

“We are loved,” said Erickson. “And we love the community back.’

At the end of the tour Dr. Williams presented Erickson with a proclamation for National Library Week.

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