In their words: Why UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Library is Wisconsin’s best

Cofrin Library, bash in the stacksUW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Library was named best in Wisconsin for 2012, an honor bestowed by the Wisconsin Library Association. Here, we find out what makes it a great place to learn … and sometimes, to just have fun.

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“When we all got together and we were told that we won library of the year, it was just the energy in the room was awesome,” said Renee Ettinger, reference and instruction librarian, “and it’s — it was really gratifying because I feel like we all worked really hard. We were really all very excited.”

When she received word of the honor, Library Director Paula Ganyard couldn’t wait to tell  her staff.

Paula Ganyard

Paula Ganyard

“At first there was a large cheer that went up,” Ganyard said, “and then immediately it was wanting to tell everybody that they know that we’re the library of the year.”

The Wisconsin Library Association considers a number of criteria when selecting each year’s honoree, Ganyard said. From technology to physical space and offerings for students and staff, the group covers a lot of ground.

“They look at a variety of things,” Ganyard said. “So the fact that we did some changes to our physical environment, adding new study space by having the Miller Reading Room, the outreach that we do — not only the partnerships that we do on campus here, but the various things we do with the community.”

Library staff also focus on another key element — having fun. A variety of events not only offer a good time, but also make students aware of the valuable resources the library offers, Ettinger said.

Cofrin Library, bash in the stacks

“One of our biggest student events is Bash in the Stacks,” she said. “We’ve had it three years now and it’s really — we close the library down for business or for studying, and we open it up for a party.”

Some events are designed to relieve stress — especially during finals week or other busy times during the semester.

“We’ve done some stress busters for exam week,” Ganyard said. “The very popular thing last year was our therapy dogs, and I’ll be happy to report that they are scheduled to return this December for exam week.”

Library staff are constantly on the lookout for new ways to serve the campus, in terms of both resources and events.

Edible Books

“Last year we started Edible Book Fest,” Ettinger said,which is (to) make something out of edible materials that either looks like a book or has something to do with a book. … We’ve become a lot more student focused, I think.”

For student and library employee Delaney Patterson, that focus is clear.

“It’s my favorite place on campus, whether working or studying,” she said. “So I feel safe and calm and happy here, and I feel like I’m getting something done, so being productive is always good.”

For Cofrin Library students and staff, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate.

“Our main reason for being here is for academics and helping with that,” Ganyard said, “but there’s no reason why it also can’t be a place to just enjoy yourself, too.”

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