July 17, 2009

Positively Racine: The refuge and resource by the lake

By Bill Griffiths

Now that graduation ceremonies are over and all the flowery words have been said, it might be time for many of us to consider the value of life-long learning. That is, learning things YOU want to just because YOU want to…not because anyone requires it.

Racine has a terrific resource for just that sort of learning, the Library. It’s useful for those of us seeking:
· a neutral place to be, to think, to read, to be away from distractions at home,
· a place to focus on a job search,
· a DVD for the weekend,
· a new book or a new topic we haven’t considered before,
· a quiet place to work on a report or a project,
· special programs (offered on a regular basis),
· to pick up books or videos we’ve reserved via email,
· to use the internet,
· to borrow some music on CDs,
· to have something to read in anticipation of a snowy or rainy weekend,
· to enjoy the view of the lake from the reading room,
· to introduce our children to the many benefits of reading, or
· to pursue the joy of reading for the sheer pleasure of it.
According to Library Director Jessica MacPhail, Racine has had a library since 1897. The current building was built in 1958 and renovated in 1990. Right now, there are some exciting interior architectural changes in the planning process that are expected to be completed by the end of 2009.

The weakened economy has increased our usage of the library. Circulation in 2009 has increased about 13% compared with the first six months of last year. Additionally, there has been a 32% increase in library cards issued for 2009 compared with the first six months of 2008.

Libraries have changed over the years to meet the changing interests and demands of the public. Racine’s librarians and staff are committed to making the library a useful resource for the people who use it and support it. The library is part of a “resource exchange”, called SHARE, which broadens the access to the collections of 43 libraries and over one million titles. Also, the librarians are continually looking for new titles to add to the collection (last year they added nearly 24,000 new items) and are open to suggestions from library users.

Every community has a wide range of different interests, and the Racine Library tries to address as many of those as is practical. Right now there are a number of interesting programs scheduled for the summer, programs for adults, teens and children. This is the time to go over to 75 Seventh Street and take a look, or spend some time browsing the programs and offerings at: www.racinelibrary.info

If you don’t have a library card, summer is a good time to get one. (And, if you don’t have one, it’s still in your taxes ((or indirectly reflected in your rent)), so why would anyone NOT have a library card and make use of it?) While the Library is not a line item on your real estate tax bill, the average cost per capita is about $26.50 per year, or about the retail cost of one book per person.


  1. The Racine Public Library is a fantastic resource for our community. I was there yesterday, will be there again today, and probably will stop in tomorrow. It is a resource I have used for over 50 years.

    I know some say that the Internet has supplanted libraries. Puh-leez. That's like saying that watching a movie equals reading a book. Our library is especially important for residents who cannot afford computers or books of their own. It is a tool that anyone can use to better themselves and our city.

    Thank you for the library.

  2. The RPL is a very great very cool place!
    O.C. is so right. A toll for all to use to better themselfs

  3. Well we can all agree on one thing. .....Waiting for lightning to strike.
    The library is a GEM! Smart communities with Smart people have libraries. You want stupid citizens then take away library funding.

  4. The library is a font of info, some most are not aware of. There is a special resource known as the verticle files. These consist of newspaper clipping of specific events. It is an amazing array that covers a hundred years! Also there is the z and zr files that are not in the open files. There is a rich history of things dealing with much history of Racine and the state.

    Don,t hesitate to ask the Librarians about these and many other sources, there are many.

  5. What's really great is that it's right next to the Y. I can fill a whole summer day with healthy activities in one spot. I usually take my daughter over to the library to look at books. Once she's read a book, then she has earned swim time at the Y. After that, she's completely exhausted and its nap time aka Mommy time. =)

  6. I agree what a wonderful resource this is too. If you haven't been lately, you need to go. I go at least once a week.

    You can search their online catalog and reserve materials from many different nearby libraries through the Share Consortium. The library will notify you when your items are in so you can pick them up. They will even keep them at the bookmobile if that is more convenient for you.

    From what I heard, the more materials checked out here, the bigger the slice of the library funding our library gets.

    Their selection is amazing too. It is a win, win positive thing in Racine. How could more people reading ever be a bad thing?