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Park board to set site for mini-library



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August 20, 2013 | 12:41 PM
The Lake Geneva Board of Park Commissioners will be tasked with locating a mini-library in Library Park, but if Alderman Sturg Taggart has his way, it won’t be built in the park anywhere between Cook and Madison streets.

Jim Gebhardt, the advisor for the Leadership Dynamics course at Badger High School, brought the idea of a small, free library to the Lake Geneva City Council on Aug. 12.

The council voted 6-1 with one absent. Taggart was the only no vote.

The mini-libraries are essentially cabinets 2.5 by 3 feet, mounted on a 4-foot post, Gebhardt said. Passersby would be able to open the cabinet, take a book and, if they wished, leave a book.

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“In fact, the motto of the program is: ‘Take a book, leave a book,’” Gebhardt said.

Gebhardt said the Leadership Dynamics students took the idea to the Lake Geneva Library Board and the park commission earlier this year.

Both boards endorsed the suggestion, he said.

Books to start the mini-library were donated by the Friends of the Lake Geneva Library, he said.

Students decided to put the mini-library in Library Park near the Veterans’ Memorial in the park.

A second may be set up soon after near the Riviera, Gebhardt said, pending city approval.

Alderwoman Sarah Hill asked why the mini-libraries would be put so close to the public library.

That spot was chosen because of its heavy foot traffic, Gebhardt said.

He said both locations are intended to introduce residents and visitors to the mini-library. Gebhardt said the goal of the program is to put mini-libraries in residential areas.

The small structures would be maintained by students in the Leadership Dynamics program. The program gets students involved with local businesses and civic organizations, and requires students to plan and carry out projects to improve the community.

A recent Leadership Dynamics project was the playhouse built on the grounds of the Walworth County Alliance for Children at W4063 County Highway NN.

Only Taggart seemed upset by the suggestion that the mini-library go up in Library Park.

Taggart said a covenant restriction prohibits construction of structures in Library Park between Cook and Madison streets, except for a library.

City Attorney Dan Draper said according to the city’s ordinance governing parks, the city may build small structures in the park that enhance the use of the parks.

If the city deems a mini-library to be a park enhancement, it can allow one to be built there.

Taggart said he respectfully disagreed, and promised to be at the next park board meeting.

However, Taggart also said he was not against the mini-library, as long as it’s put somewhere other than Library Park.

When asked about possible vandalism, Gebhardt said the program in Madison doesn’t seem to have a problem.

He said the mini-library program was created by a University of Wisconsin professor and a UW student.

The program has since spread across the country and around the world, Gebhardt said.

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