The Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System, representing Washington and Dodge counties, and the Eastern Shores Library System, representing Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties, are proposing to merge systems. The proposal is supported by all five libraries in the current Mid-Wisconsin System and was unanimously approved at the July 21 Administrative Committee meeting.
A recommendation has been sent to the County Board for final approval at its August 9 meeting.
Beginning in the second half of 2015, the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System engaged in an exploratory process to identify potential system merger partners. After identifying the Eastern Shores Library System as a potential partner, the two systems began discussions in February of 2016 about the feasibility of a partnership. A joint committee representing six individuals from each system was established to focus on key service and system topics that it determined needed to be addressed during the process.
After months of discussion, the joint committee voted to recommend that the two systems merge together to form a new four-county library system effective January 1, 2017. According to the joint committee report, a merger of the two systems will:
· Improve services to patrons through easier and more efficient access to more resources. (The new shared catalog will contain more than 1.1 million holdings);
· Save libraries approximately $98,000 cumulatively in system fees being paid by member libraries for shared services; and
· Improve the sustainability of and in key areas improve system services to libraries, including an increase in in-system continuing education opportunities for library staff, an improved technology support system, all the while maintaining the same level of delivery service to each library.
According to County Board Supervisor Kristine Deiss, a current board member of the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System, the proposed merger “aligns perfectly with the direction and core values of the County through its focus on increased efficiencies and shared services.”
In order for the merger to become official, each of the boards from the four counties included in the system will need to approve.