| There is now one hub of knowledge in Keshena
following the merger of the Menominee Public Library with the College
of Menominee Nation library.
college, the Menominee Tribal Legislature and the Menominee County
Board of Supervisors celebrated the merger Friday with an open house
and discussion of what is to come in the three-story, 19,000-square-foot
S. Verna Fowler Library. More than 100 people were in attendance
"The Menominee Public Library is in new
surroundings, but it is still your public library," Library Director
Maria Escalante said. "I hope that you'll come here often."
Menominee County Supervisor Tony Waupochick
understands the importance of libraries, being the husband and father
of librarians. He commented that the merger will not diminish literacy
services to the reservation in any way.
"Sharing obligations and responsibilities
lightens the load for all and opens new opportunities," Waupochick
said. "The county and the tribe have worked together for many years
to assure public library services are available to people who live
here. Now, we welcome the college as a new partner in providing
Library services are in great need on
the reservation. Verna Fowler, CMN president, cited statistics that
show 34 percent of American Indians read at a fifth-grade level
"That is one-third of the population who
may not be able to access or understand medical information readily
available on the Internet about the chronic diseases that plague
our community and preventive measures and services that could help
them," Fowler said. "That is one-third of our community who may
not be able to successfully do banking transactions online, research
their tribe's constitution and other foundational documents or research
records about their own family history."
Fowler credited Escalante as the driving
force at the college behind the merger. A director for 16 years,
she has been a major player in helping to improve literacy in the
college and community, Fowler said.
"This merger will most likely double her
workload, and she has not said one word to me about a salary increase,"
Fowler said, drawing laughter from those in attendance.
Escalante said the merger has created
a "significant" historical collection for the community, which can
be viewed during library hours in a special collections wing in
The Children's Department is also located
in the basement. Escalante plans to have many activities for children
to promote early and continuing literacy.
newly merged library this spring will sponsor a visit by New York
Times bestselling author Jeanette Wells. The library will give away
copies of her memoir, "The Glass Castle," on Jan. 24 and will hold
book discussions in February and March prior to her March 12 appearance
at the Menominee Casino Resort.
Tribal Chairman Craig Corn said the merger
was a win-win situation. The services previously available at the
tribal library will continue to be provided, Corn said, and programs
should be expanded with the help of the college's resources.
"The decision to merge the Menominee Public
Library with the college academic library was considered at great
length and very carefully by our tribal Legislature," Corn said.
Responding to criticism that the merger
moved library services out of walking distance for some Keshena
residents, the college established a partnership with Menominee
Transit Authority, which will allow library patrons to take the
bus for free by showing their library card.
The tribe and the county will continue
to provide financial assistance to the public library functions,
The Fowler Library opened in 2008 and
was named after the college's founding president last year. Prior
to the new library being built, college library services were contained
in one room in the basement of Shirley Daly Hall.