Get Your Popcorn Ready

BEFORE THEY ENJOY birthday cake, Caestecker Public Library Director Linda DeNell, left, and library assistant Stephanie Osheim pay homage to the man who made possible the library’s beautiful, multi-faceted facility 25 years ago: Green Lake philanthropist Thomas E. Caestecker. Joe Schulz photo

by Joe Schulz

Twenty-five years ago, people stood along the street in Green Lake passing books from one building to the next as the library moved to a new home made possible by local philanthropist Thomas E. Caestecker.

There will be a passing of another sort Sunday, June 23 as the Caestecker Public Library will dish out food and cake to honor its silver anniversary from 2 to 4 p.m.

The celebration, which is open to the public and will feature music, consists of activities on both levels and is a way of thanking Caestecker for donating the building.

The library’s Hill Street location was constructed in 1993, and in 1994 the library was officially moved from the current Dartford Historical Society building.

“It was an interesting kind of move because they had people stand along the street and they passed the books from one building to the next,” Dartford Historical Society President Larry Behlen said.

Shortly after the library arrived on Hill Street it began using computers and barcodes to catalog their inventory.

“That was a whole new experience, getting everything barcoded and put onto a computer database,” Caestecker Public Library Director Linda DeNell said. “Then instead of having the pockets in the back of the book with your slip on there that you stamped, people had to start remembering their library card.”

The move to Hill Street has granted the library more space, allowing the fireplace area to be used to read the newspaper, use a personal device to surf the web or even work on a jigsaw puzzle.

“Before the move, there wasn’t space for anything like that,” DeNell said. “That whole cozy area over there by the fireplace has meant that the community started seeing the library as more of a place to gather and meet friends or discuss things; became more of a community living room situation.”

The building also gave the library room for a kids area, where youngsters can play inside of a large boat or wooden house.

“Play is really crucial for kids; playing for little ones is pretty much their work,” DeNell said. “Learning how to get along with people, learning how to share, learning how to manipulate things.”

The Hill Street location has also enabled the library to renovate the basement to allow for movie nights.

“When we’re doing the Road to the Oscars, we get a big crowd of people,” DeNell said. “We love the Campus Theater in Ripon, but it’s one screen and they don’t always get all the movies that are nominated for things. And [Road to the Oscars] may be the only way a lot of the folks around here see what’s been put up for awards.”

Moving to Hill Street has enabled the library to become more of a community gathering place, as it has programs throughout each month including a knitting group, women’s Bible study and Thursday morning conversations. The library also holds an ice cream social every summer.

It also has been a second home for DeNell, who after 15 years working at the Caestecker Public Library and spending 13 years as library director will be retiring June 28. Her replacement as library director will be Christina Lyon.

“I was working in Fond du Lac in corporate training and eventually went back and got a master’s degree in library science,” DeNell said. “I didn’t start working in the library here; I started working in a library elsewhere. But when [an] opening happened here and it was a five-minute commute as opposed to an hour commute I thought, ‘Please let me get this,’ and it’s been great.”

Behlen added the library has become an excellent community gathering place, thanks to the hard-working librarians.

“We’ve had some very talented librarians over the years that have been able to do some remarkable programming,” Behlen said.

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