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Public Library System Redesign Project

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Wisconsin's library system law, providing funding for coordinated regional library services, officially went into effect in 1971 when Senate Bill 47 was signed into law (1971 Act 152). The creation of public library systems fostered the establishment of a strong network of resource sharing and mutually beneficial interdependence. The actual creation and development of public library systems in Wisconsin was a voluntary and gradual process. No county or public library is required to be a member of a library system; yet, as of this writing, all of Wisconsin's 72 counties and more than 380 public libraries are library system members. Wisconsin's 17 public library systems developed in distinct ways in response to the needs of their member libraries and area residents.

While changes in society, resources, and technologies have created new demands and opportunities for systems, the law and services required of them as well as many of their practices are still relatively unchanged from the original law. The library community—the systems, libraries, and the legislature—has recognized the need to update what is required of library systems as well as to redesign the services in a manner that is more efficient and effective.

In the development of the biennial budget for 2014-15, the legislature's Committee on Joint Finance (JFC) proposed a study to be conducted by the Department of Administration in consultation with the Department of Public Instruction, using LEAN practices and looking for efficiencies and opportunities where technology might afford savings. That recommendation was vetoed by the governor, who stated that the DPI has the authority to conduct such a study. In 2013, the System and Resource Library Administrators' Association of Wisconsin (SRLAAW) conducted a self-examination and report, and in 2014, the DPI's Public Library Development Team, working with a LEAN consultant and a volunteer steering committee, carried out a LEAN study as recommended by the JFC.

For questions about this information, contact John DeBacher (608) 267-9225