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Library Puts Priority on Patron Needs and Safety

Winneshiek County Community Foundation
December 4, 2017

The Decorah Public Library is a busy place, serving over 19,000 registered patrons and many more residents of not only Decorah but all of Winneshiek County. The Library is an all-encompassing resource center providing materials, technology, programs, entertainment and more.

As a hub of community activity, the Library knows it needs to keep its visitors safe in a welcoming space. This year, the Decorah Public Library added a new feature, that has already proven to contribute to accomplishing both goals.

With the aid of a grant from the Winneshiek County Community Foundation, the library installed security cameras, bringing peace of mind to patrons and employees. The cameras are placed on all of the entryways along with one in the mezzanine, which otherwise cannot be seen from the front desk. There is also one camera in the parking area where the staff cannot monitor.

“We hope the camera system goes unnoticed by the public,” said Jon Pankow, Decorah Public Library Technology Coordinator. “The cameras were not put in place to intrude on what our patrons are doing. That’s not the point. We just want to make sure staff, people, and assets are safe and that we have a way to look back if something happens or if we need to cover a cost.”

Pankow and the library staff believe the cameras are a good investment for their patrons, but specifically for the children who use the library on a regular basis.

“The cameras are for safety sake for the kids. It is nice to know who is coming and going. It gives us a chance to know who is in the building at all times if needed,” said Pankow.

The investment in the camera system has also been a deterrent for vandalism, which has unfortunately impacted the Library. Specifically, less unwanted activity has occurred in the Library’s parking structure.

Without the partnership with the Winneshiek County Community Foundation, the library would not have had the chance to make this improvement.

“A lot of public entities, including the libraries, are having budgets decreased, so we are pretty frugal, and anytime we get a grant to offset the cost, it’s is really helpful. We would not have been able to come up with the money for this project otherwise,” said Pankow.

When moving forward with the project, Jon and other city employees talked about which security system would be the most effective. The library landed on a system that would work well with the technology already in place and one that would operate with the city’s existing network of technology into the future.

“We use a network around the city that allows us to share resources, connectivity, and push data around faster, so when we purchased equipment, we wanted one that we would be able to adopt for multiple agencies in the future,” said Pankow.

Long lasting and big reach have been taken into mind with each new project at the library. The security system will be a staple for years to come at an organization that is able to reach people of all kinds.

“Everybody has the same access to the same resources in the library at little to no costs,” said Pankow. “We are impacting a large, diverse group of people so investments in libraries are good for our community.”

The WCCF is proud to partner with the Decorah Library to ensure equal opportunities and access for all for years to come.