The children’s department at the Waupaca Area Public Library will soon have a new piece of equipment.
Thanks to a $1,347 donation, the department is purchasing an Elmo Visual Presenter.
Children’s librarian Sue Abrahamson hopes to have it by the end of summer.
“It works like an overhead projector. You put a book or a picture you want projected on the wall. It captures that. It’s very portable,” she said.
The monetary donation came from the Waupaca School District and from staff members at Waupaca Learning Center (WLC).
Each year, the district gives plaques to the teachers who are retiring.
This year, many of the teachers retiring from WLC felt they did not need a plaque. Instead, they wanted the money that would have been spent on plaques to be donated to the community’s public library, specifically for the children’s department.
“I guess I thought about the library because I wanted to give back,” said Joan Taylor.
She is among the teachers who retired this year from the school district. Taylor taught for 33 years, with all of those years in the Waupaca School District.
The teachers discussed the idea, and Taylor contacted the district’s business office to find out if the district could give a donation in lieu of presenting plaques to its retiring teachers.
She learned that teachers could make that choice. They just had to let the business office know where they wanted that donation to go. As a result, Abrahamson received a $147 check from the district.
But more was yet to come. A $1,200 donation was given by those who attended the retirement party for WLC staff.
In the past, gifts were given to retiring teachers.
“With so many retiring, we decided any money people would like to give (toward gifts) would be donated to the library,” Taylor said.
When people signed up to attend the retirement dinner, a portion of the cost was for the dinner, while the other part was for the donation to the library.
“A lot of retirees also donated,” Taylor said. “Some of us donated a dollar for every year of service.”
Abrahamson was surprised when the second donation was presented to her.
Several days before the retirement party, Taylor visited Abrahamson at the library. “Sue said she had gotten the gift from the school district,” Taylor said. “She was excited about that.”
Taylor told her she thought there might be another surprise.
Abrahamson immediately knew that the donation would be used to buy an Elmo Visual Presenter.
Most of the teachers at WLC have one in their classrooms, and when Abrahamson saw how the teachers used them, she thought it would be a great tool when she is working with large groups at the library.
During story time, it could be used when she is reading, allowing all of the children to see the pictures in the books.
“We’re getting bigger groups for our activities,” she said.
She put it on her wish list and planned to seek a grant to cover the cost.
“They’re (the visual presenter) about exactly how much (money) they gave me,” Abrahamson said. “I’m hoping to get it all ordered and ready so that I can use it at the Back to School Teachers’ Luncheon.”
The donation was particularly meaningful for Abrahamson.
Before she began working at the library, she was a teacher’s aide at WLC.
“Mr. (Boyd) Simonson was my boss for years and years and years. In 1996, I started full time at the library,” she said. “All those people were my co-workers and friends, so it was easy to strengthen the relationship between the public library and the school.”
During the last 15 years, Abrahamson has visited classrooms to give book talks, done the first-grade roundup for library cards, given library tours, participated in Read Across America, and pulled books from the children’s department when teachers needed books about specific curriculum topics.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do,” Abrahamson said.
Between 30 and 40 students go the library after school on Wednesdays. Volunteers help them with their homework.
“They love being able to call, and we love being able to help them,” she said.
Taylor said the teachers see the children’s department at the public library and its staff as being one of Waupaca’s best assets.
“All it takes is one phone call,” she said. “The children’s department – all of them – are so helpful. They’re so upbeat all the time. They really care about kids and motivating them to read.”