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Jefferson and Waukesha counties to join together in new library system

July 23, 2015

JEFFERSON – Starting on January 1, 2016, Jefferson and Waukesha counties will join together in a new library system that will provide improved library services to citizens of the two counties.

Currently, the 16 public libraries in Waukesha County are alone in the one-county Waukesha County Federated Library System (WCFLS). The public libraries of Jefferson County, which include those in Fort Atkinson, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Palmyra, Waterloo, Watertown, and Whitewater, have been part of the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System (MWFLS), along with Dodge and Washington counties, since 1980. Wisconsin’s regional library systems are state agencies based on county affiliations. They are charged with the mission of providing services that strengthen and improve member libraries.

In 2014, the Jefferson County Library Board began a comprehensive study of the different library systems to which the libraries of Jefferson County could belong. After much research and discussion, a unanimous decision was made to seek a partnership with WCFLS. “The Jefferson County Library Board took a thorough look at five library systems and determined that Waukesha County is an excellent system and the best fit for our county,“ said Linda Ager, president of the Jefferson County Library Board.

In March of 2015, the WCFLS board considered the request from the Jefferson County Library Board to take in the libraries of Jefferson County. They unanimously endorsed the idea and made a proposal which was in turn approved by the Jefferson County Library Board.

“We are excited about the opportunities that will present themselves as we add the high caliber libraries of Jefferson County to our library system,” enthused Meyer. “We will find cost savings for our member libraries through economies of scale, increase access to materials for all of our citizens, and improve our library system’s ability to meet its mission.   It’s not often that the opportunity to realize savings also results in improving services, but we believe this proposal offers a rare opportunity to do both.”

Ager concurred with Meyer’s assessment. “This is a true win-win because there are clear benefits for both counties,” noted the Jefferson County Library Board president. “After the switch, Jefferson County residents will immediately notice they have more databases and can check out more books and other materials. ”

With the addition of Jefferson County, the Waukesha County Federated Library System will be seeking a new name and appointing a new library system board with citizens from both counties. Both will take effect on January 1, 2016.

To learn more, visit the WCFLS website at www.wcfls.org or view their Facebook page.