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Library History - Part 2

Library History - Part 1  Library History Part 3  Library History - Part 4

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

October 10, 2005, Last Revised 12/17/2014

Public Library Services for the Lisbon - Sussex Community

1981 to 2005

Note: Where the word Picture appears in bold type indicates a photo appeared with source.

Sussex Library

by Fred H. Keller, March 1986

orig. printed "The First 150 Years", Lisbon-Sussex, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, page 26.

    For many years before the Village of Sussex had a library, services were being provided to its residents in the form of Summer Reading Programs for children. The Village budget included funds for staff to run the six-week sessions in cooperation with the school district's loan of site and books.

    The programs were so well received that a survey was taken of Village residents in 1979, led by the Sussex Jaycettes, to show the Village Board that year round library services were desired. A study committee recommended that a service contract with another library not be entered into, but rather that a Village library be established.

    As soon as the Village Board agreed to a budget for a library and the necessary legal provisions were met, interested citizens began a long history of enthusiastically volunteering time and talents. While a search for a qualified librarian was being conducted by the Library Board, Friends of the Sussex Library (FOSL) was organizing to provide additional funs and services.

    Early in 1980 Librarian Marion Kusnick had thousands of new books to process, in addition to the used ones collected by local Boy Scouts. By opening day [in] September 3, 1980, Librarian Phyllis Smith reported a book collection of about 10,000. 

    In October of 1980, the Waukesha county Board voted to establish a Federated Library System, allowing residents of the county to borrow from participating libraries. 15 of the 16 libraries began lending to county residents, with Sussex included.

   By the first anniversary, nearly 1,500 persons had registered for library cards. Shortly after that, Librarian Terry Zignego was hired. Many programs were offered over the years to help advertise the library and to encourage use of library services. The first successful Art Fling was held in 1982, displaying artwork from area schools.

    Holiday parties, pre-school story hours and film festivals have been among the successful children's programs. The number of children participating in the summer reading program has grown each year. As part of the reading program, the children have helped to build several prize winning floats for the Lions Daze Parade.

    Adult program have also been popular and have included topics such as resume writing, gardening, nature, tax information and fashion. A book discussion group meets once a month to share ideas and recommendations about books they have recently read. It is a very informal group and new members are always welcome to join.

    In 1985, the library was able to purchase a computer system with generous donations by the Lions Club and Lighthouse Baptist Church. The computer and printer is available for public use by anyone high school age or older who can demonstrate basic computer knowledge.

A six-volume set of hard-covered Sussex Sun newspapers was presented by Fred and June Keller at the Sussex Library Open House Sunday at the Civic Center. Receiving the books were Joanne Smith, chairman of the library board; with directors Carol Wilde, Diane Fitzpatrick and Marjorie Kramer. September 1981. Picture: Fred H. Keller collection

1983 Civic center move may be studied

Sussex - The village may consider moving its civic center from the former Main / Orchard Elementary school, which it is leasing from the Hamilton school district.

The center houses the village library, teen center, and senior citizen center.

The Village Board has directed Administrator David Anderson to find out how much the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission would charge to study whether alternate sites would be suitable for a civic center.

The village and the school district are negotiating a selling price for the school building on Main St. The village has appraised the school at about $240,000. The district's appraisal was about $300,000.

Village and school officials said negotiations were progressing. "Negotiations are getting closer," Anderson said.

Acting School Superintendent Ralph Lenz said progress had been made.

As for looking for other civic center sites, Anderson said the village was just checking its alternatives. Source: The Milwaukee Journal, Aug. 15, 1983.

    The Friends of the Sussex Library have supported the library through countless volunteer work hours and fund raising projects. The Friends have held rummage and book sales, plant sales, a walk-a-thon, and antique appraisals to raise money for the library. Many of the Library's special programs are made possible with the help of the Friends and other volunteers. An appreciation dinner for the volunteers has become an annual event.

    The library has also received generous donations from local businesses and community groups.

The library has undergone some physical remodeling this year. Two large openings were made in the hallway walls to allow visibility from the main library area into the reference room. Shelving was rearranged to allow for future expansion. The result has been a more spacious and attractive library.

    The library is currently open five days a week for a total of 28 hours. Card holders number approximately 3,500. The number of books in the collection exceeds 14,000. The library also has children's records, cassette tapes and book kits, music and foreign language cassette tape, and framed art work. Staff members include: Terry Zignego, Joan Moroney, and Fred Bauer. Library cards are free!!! Come and visit us soon.

Picture: Fred H. Keller collection

Pauline E. Ebeling

1. PAULINE2 E. EBELING (ADAM1) was born 18 Jul 1905 in Richfield, Washington, Wisconsin, and died 28 Aug 1985 in Nursing home. She married GEORGE P. HAASS 13 Jun 1933 (Source: Sussex Sun, Library namesake Pauline Haass as a young girl, Tuesday, May 15, 2001.), son of GEORGE HAASS and BARBARA ?. He was born Abt. 1906 in Wisconsin, and died May 1967 (Source: SSDI.).


Her will left a $500,000 gift to the Town of Lisbon to start a library, and today she is honored with the joint Lisbon-Sussex library named after her, the Pauline Haass Public Library.


Education 1: Graduated Hartford High School, Hartford, Washington, Wisconsin

Education 2: 1927, Graduated Milwaukee Normal School with teaching certificate.

Occupation: Bet. 1927 - 1933, Various teaching positions

Residence 1: 1975, Waukesha Ave., Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin

Residence 2: Bet. 1980 - 1985, Nursing home


Residence 1: 1930, Living with parents and sister in town of Lisbon

Residence 2: 1933, Farm on corner of Lake Five Road and County Hwy Q, Town of Lisbon, Waukesha, Wisconsin


Marriage: 13 Jun 1933 (Source: Sussex Sun, Library namesake Pauline Haass as a young girl, Tuesday, May 15, 2001.)

"1987 year in review" - October - Sussex and Lisbon officially gave approval to a joint library. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, January 5, 1988, page 9. 

"Library gets series of historic books" - Pauline Haass Public Library officially came into existence January 1, 1988

    As a direct result of the 1986 Lisbon-Sussex Sesquicentennial there was a special extended Weaver family get-together in Sussex. This event, September 12, 1987, attracted several settler descendants who donated family history papers to the library.

    Initially the new library will be located in the Sussex Civic Center, N64 W23760 Main Street. A new library director will take over February 1. Library directors are: Leo Miller, Chairman; Richard Allen, VP; Eileen Grenke, secretary; Ralph Lenz; Sharon Blank; Roger Johnson; Mike Ertl. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, January 5, 1988, page 6. Pictures on pages 4 and 6.


Ribbon cutting - Doing the honors of cutting the ribbon to the new section of the expanded Pauline Haass Public Library are, left to right, Joy Botts, director; Marion Kusnich, first librarian at the 10-year-old library; and Richard Allen, library board director. Picture: Fred H. Keller collection


Librarian Kathy Klager - Sussex Library display of Christmas Seals, Dec. 1994. Picture: Fred H. Keller collection

Picture of Joy Botts, new library director, and current librarian, Terry Zignego. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, January 12, 1988, page 3. 

"Sussex/Lisbon News" - a week of special activities will lead up to the dedication of the Pauline Haass Public Library; scheduled for Sunday, February 14. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, January 19, 1988, page 5. 

    Picture of library card registration at Sussex Sentry food store. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, January 5, 1988, page 6. 

"Youngsters birthday bash set for library" - Library supports national program for 5 year olds to get library cards. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, January 5, 1988, page 7. 

"Sussex/Lisbon News" - Dedication activities listed for event. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, February 9, 1988, page 6. 

"Library celebrates opening" - About 150 people turned out throughout the 3-hour event. Included library tour, presentation of plaques to Haass family, a proclamation by State Assemblywoman Lolita Schneiders, and introduction to staff.  Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, February 16, 1988, page 12. Pictures

1995 - In April, a fund raising drive begun, Quad/Graphics to match up to $150,000 in pledges. After the Halquist Quarry Company donated $7,500; the amount raised was about $120,000. John Squier, president of the Joint Sussex-Lisbon Pauline Haass Library board.

Haass library enjoys successful opening Facility will offer more resources in larger space for Sussex and Lisbon (Source: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, July 23, 1996)

    The community tried on a new library Monday, and it fit perfectly.

    Doors to the $2.34 million Pauline Haass Public Library opened at 9:30 a.m., and within hours, children and adults were settling in. Library Director Joy Botts said she was overwhelmed at seeing a father and son sitting in one of the library's reading rooms.

    "They just fit it," she said. "It just looked like a place where they would go to read. So, there they were."

    Monday's opening was five years in the making. The single-story facility is designed to serve the growing communities of Sussex and Lisbon for two decades.

    The new library, at N64-W23820 Main St., near Sussex Village Hall, is just a few hundred feet west of ...

1996 - Old memories didn't linger long in the Pauline Haass Public Library last weekend as former patrons and bargain hunters scoured for deals on shelves, racks, desks and filing cabinets.

A silent auction held Friday and Saturday helped get rid of some of the outdated furniture and equipment from the former library at N64-W23760 Main St.

Book racks and various pieces of storage equipment stood silent as the voices of potential buyers echoed in the empty building that served as a library for the Sussex and Lisbon communities. The building, built in two sections in the early '50s, originally served as the Orchard Drive School until 1979, when it was vacated and used for a teen center and later a ...Source: Milwaukee sentinel, Sept. 19, 1996

Turning a page in library's history Old equipment auctioned as new facility heads toward its grand opening

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Thursday, September 19, 1996

Readability: >12 grade level (Lexile: 1430L)
Author: BRET CRAMER, Special to the Journal Sentinel

Old memories didn't linger long in the Pauline Haass Public Library last weekend as former patrons and bargain hunters scoured for deals on shelves, racks, desks and filing cabinets.

A silent auction held Friday and Saturday helped get rid of some of the outdated furniture and equipment from the former library at N64-W23760 Main St.

Book racks and various pieces of storage equipment stood silent as the voices of potential buyers echoed in the empty building that served as a library for the Sussex and Lisbon communities.

The building, built in two sections in the early '50s, originally served as the Orchard Drive School until 1979, when it was vacated and used for a teen center and later a senior center. It became the Sussex Library in 1980.

Several of the items for bid at the auction were designed to store specific items and would make for rather odd household use, such as a five-foot newspaper stand which, according to Library Director Joy Botts, is worth about $900. As of noon Saturday, nobody had bid on the apparatus.

Among the more popular items were the library's old wooden card catalog files, which became obsolete when the new library building put its entire card catalog on computer.

One solid oak catalog file went for $275 to Sussex Village Historian Fred Keller , who recalls hauling the piece to the village from the Waukesha Library, which sold it to the village when its own catalog became computerized.

"I recognized the piece from when I bought it out from Waukesha," Keller said. "It was 60 or 80 years old then. It's a nice piece."

Keller plans to use the catalog for odds and ends and maybe for some of his extensive stamp collection.

"Anything that has a lot of little drawers is very popular," Keller said. "There's just a lot of space in there for storage."

Others bidders hoped to obtain the catalogs for uses ranging from video collections to storing drill bits for a tool and die shop.

When asked if the catalogs might have sentimental value, Botts seemed skeptical.

"I'm not sure people are going to be bewailing the loss of the old card catalog," Botts said. "But I think they'll like to have something to use that reminds them of the old library."

The history of the old library building will be relegated to memory when the building is torn down. The structure, according to Botts, has various problems, including asbestos in the flooring, and is not worth renovating.

The building was vacated in July when construction of the new Pauline Haass Public Library was completed just a few hundred feet to the west.

According to Keller , in 1985 Pauline Haass, a reclusive former school teacher, willed her estate of $500,000 to Lisbon for a library. Since Lisbon couldn't afford to build a library for that sum, the two municipalities decided to form a joint library district in 1988 and the Sussex library was renamed for its benefactor.

The new library building will have a grand opening Oct. 4 to 10.
Caption: Photo; JIM GEHRZ; STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Caption: Dolan Media (DOLM)


Library construction October 1995. Picture: Fred H. Keller collection

1996 - Library automated the catalog and checkout functions. Source: Pauline Haass Public Library Annual Report 2004, pub. April, 2005.

Flyer: Fred H. Keller collection

1997 - Internet access added for reference staff. Source: Pauline Haass Public Library Annual Report 2004, pub. April, 2005.

1998 - Moved into new library building and made the internet available to the public. Source: Pauline Haass Public Library Annual Report 2004, pub. April, 2005.

Design firm to pay bigger share of Sussex library roof repair costs

A Madison firm that designed the Pauline Haass Public Library will pay two-thirds of the cost of correcting a defective roof ventilation system that resulted in $27,000 worth of damage to the building during the Jan. 2 blizzard.

A material designed to keep snow and rain from penetrating a louvered ventilation system will be added and a portion of the louvers will be covered by metal shields, Library Director Joy Botts said.

HSR Associates of Madison, architects of the $2.34 million library built in ...Source: May 4, 1999 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Cliff Loker, a seventh-grade student at Templeton Middle School, helped break a record Dec. 14 when he checked out the 200,000th item at the Pauline Haass Public Library in 1998. That's a one-year record for the 10-year-old library.

The library opened in January 1988 in the former Orchard Drive School in Sussex and moved into a new building just to the west in July 1996. By the end of 1997, checkouts of the library's materials more than quadrupled from the 38,088 items checked out in 1988 to 186,068 early 1998.  Article from: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI) Article date: December 22, 1998

Donor' bricks to be put in at Sussex library

Monday, August 21, 2000, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Sussex -- Personalized bricks are to be installed in September near the entrance of the Pauline Haass Public Library.

More than $20,000 has been raised to pay for materials at the library serving Sussex and Lisbon since the program began in 1995. The bricks cost ...


Card: Fred H. Keller collection

Library art piece 1999. Picture: Fred H. Keller collection

Botts to retire from library - After 13 years of service at the Pauline Haass Public Library, Director Joy Botts has decided to call it a day. January 24, 2001

Roof leaking at library - On a trip to the library, one expects to see certain things. Typically, buckets are not among them. March 07, 2001

Library may need to cover roof-repair costs - Pauline Haass Public Library will most likely have to cover the costs to repair the roof on its facility, Trustee Henry Carlson said last Tuesday. April 04, 2001



No children's fines policy could be permanent at library - At its next meeting, the Pauline Haass Public Library board could be making official its policy of no late fees for children's books. April 11, 2001

Library enjoys strong year - The Pauline Haass Public Library is proving itself more useful, and more used, every year. April 18, 2001

Library leak mystery may be solved - The Pauline Haass Library Board voted Wednesday to hire a local roofing company to investigate the cause of severe leaks that plagued the building during the winter. April 18, 2001

2001 - Library catalog is put online so that customers could search, reserve, and renew from home. Source: Pauline Haass Public Library Annual Report 2004, pub. April, 2005.

Lisbon 2000 Library Board... Emil Glodoski, Joanne Smith, Ron Evert. Picture: Fred H. Keller collection

Library to test-market eBooks - It could become more difficult for young men to impress young women by carrying their books home for them from Pauline Haass Public Library this fall. Through grants from Wisconsin Federated Library System and Wisconsin Advanced Telecom-munications, the library is planning to... July 18, 2001

Library faces funding changes- Waukesha County Federated Library System's citizens committee has proposed changes, beginning in 2002, that could change the amount of funding Pauline Haass Public Library will receive in the future. August 14, 2001

Library reaches milestone - After almost 15 years in existence and nearly five years at its new location, Pauline Haass Public Library is expected to check out its two-millionth item today. November 20, 2001

PHL makes 2 millionth loan - As expected, the 2 millionth item was checked out of the Pauline Haass Public Library last week. November 28, 2001

Library use, presence climbed in 2001 The Pauline Haass Library had a busy and productive year in 2001, and 2002 is likely to build on that, director Kathy Klager told the Village Board on Tuesday night. May 21, 2002

Adult reading program takes off at library - How Mark Twain helped to bring Sussex and Lisbon readers together. August 13, 2002

PHPL wants you to read for pleasure. Officials at the Pauline Haass Library - call them librarians - are hopeful that a new series of programs offered at the library this fall will inspire local teenagers to do something they may not have done in a while: read. September 24, 2002

LIBRARIES - Funding plan seeks fairness

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Sunday, February 23, 2003

Legislation regarding the funding and governance of Wisconsin public libraries is complex. The writers of the Feb. 9 editorial on library taxes missed several key points and thus came to a mistaken conclusion ("County tax, county control").

The capital cost tax being considered by the Act 150 Library Planning Committee, of which we are members, would not be "taxation without representation," as the editorial asserted. Nor would it be part of the general levy on all 37 units of government in the county, as the editorial implied. Communities with libraries are already taxed locally for both operating and capital costs. Only communities that do not operate their own libraries would pay the proposed county tax.

Leaders of the 19 communities in the county that choose to have their citizens use libraries in surrounding municipalities instead of building their own libraries are already taxed by Waukesha County for a portion of the operating expenses of those libraries. In accordance with a Waukesha County ordinance, citizens from non- library communities are paying 21% of total operating expenses in the current fiscal year. The percentage of operating expenses paid matches the percentage of total library use by these citizens.

What has long been missing from the formula and the ordinance is any contribution toward capital costs. After identifying Dane and Winnebago counties as examples of localities that successfully include capital costs in their formulas, many members of the Act 150 Library Planning Committee want to rectify this significant omission.

The issue of "taxation without representation" is addressed by state law, which provides a mechanism for counties to make appointments to the local boards of those libraries that receive significant county funding. Currently, seven of the 16 library boards in Waukesha County include one or more of the 15 representatives of non- library communities appointed by the county executive.

There is additional representation on county level committees. The Waukesha County Federated Library System Board includes citizen representatives from communities without libraries as well as communities with libraries. Residents of both library and non- library communities serve on the Act 150 Planning Committee and are elected to the Waukesha County Board, the body that would need to approve any ordinance change.

By following the examples already at work in other parts of the state, we can fairly tax all users of the libraries for capital improvements and not overtax a portion of the users.

John DuPont

Alderman, Waukesha

Henry Carlson

County supervisor, Sussex

David Lamerand

Village president, Hartland

Kris Schmidt

City Clerk, Brookfield

The Teen Summer Reading Program offered at the Pauline Haass Library is open to kids ages 11 to 18, and has been designed entirely by area teenagers. The program includes prizes as incentives for reading. Some of the sponsors of this year's program are Best Buy, Blockbuster Video, Capitol Cinemas, Comedy Sportz, the Friends of the Pauline Haass Public Library, Festa Italiana, German Fest, Green Bay Packers, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Hartland Music Center, Huffy Sports and the Milwaukee Public Museum. May 20, 2003

2004 - signed a contract to join the CAFÉ consortium and enable customers to easily search and borrow from ten times as many items. Source: Pauline Haass Public Library Annual Report 2004, pub. April, 2005.

Library Board of Directors - Jane Anhalt (Lisbon); Marianne Baker, President (Sussex); James Batzko (Sussex Trustee); Donald Behrens (school representative); Charlotte Coe (Sussex); Emil Glodoski, Vice-President (Lisbon); Robert Williams (Lisbon Supervisor). Source: Pauline Haass Public Library Annual Report 2004, pub. April, 2005.

CAPITOL WEEK Libraries are more vital than ever, new study shows

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Sunday, May 8, 2005
Author: AMY RINARD, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Public libraries in Wisconsin are costing more and more money to operate and requiring increased funding from counties and municipalities as well as private sources such as endowments, gifts and grants, according to a new study by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

That may not be very surprising given that the cost of most local services has been on the rise and, like local governments, libraries’ biggest expenses are staff salaries and fringe benefits.

But what is surprising about the Taxpayers Alliance study, which looked at local library costs and operations statewide, is that even in an age when information seems to be almost instantly available over the Internet, use of Wisconsin’s public libraries is increasing.

From 1989 through 2003, total library circulation — defined as transactions in which any library item is loaned or renewed — increased nearly 51%, to 54.7 million statewide, the study found.

Use of libraries by adults increased more than use by children.

"It is kind of surprising," Taxpayers Alliance researcher Dale Knapp said of the increase in circulation numbers.

"You’d think that with more and more stuff being available electronically, the numbers would be stagnating. But they aren’t."

Part of that increase in use of public libraries may be attributable to libraries growing collections of movies on DVD and video cassette and music on CDs, Knapp said.

The study found that while books make up the largest share of library materials — 19.5 million volumes statewide in 2003 — audio and video materials are increasing rapidly.

Most public libraries in the state are operated by cities and villages and funded through a combination of municipal, county, state, federal and other funds.

From 1989 through 1996, county funding of libraries rose an average of 7.1% per year.

During the next four years, the increases averaged 6.3% per year and from 2000 through 2003, county funding for libraries was up 6.6% annually, the study found.

But, in 2003, cities and villages still provided nearly 60% of the $207.6 million of public library revenue.

Counties provided 21.4% and the state, 8.2%, with other revenues sources accounting for the rest of the revenue.

The best way to judge how efficiently libraries are utilizing their funding, is to look at library costs per circulation transaction, Knapp said.

"That takes into account not just a community’s population but how much people are using the library," he said.

Those numbers vary widely, the study found, ranging statewide from a high of $40.97 per circulation transaction in Oneida to a low of $1.14 in Readstown.

The average per circulation cost was $3.35, the study found.

In Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington and Racine counties, public library per circulation costs did not veer far off the statewide average, according to the data compiled by the Taxpayers Alliance for 2003, the most recent year available.

Among the 31 libraries in those counties, the highest per circulation cost in 2003 was $6.82 at the Butler Public Library in Waukesha County and the lowest was $2.14 at the Waukesha Public Library.

Also toward the high end among suburban counties in costs per circulation transaction was the Big Bend Public Library with $6.59; Muskego Public Library, $6.77; Town Hall Library in North Lake, $5.91; the Barbara Sanborn Public Library in Pewaukee, $5.22; Rochester Public Library, $5.15; Elm Grove Public Library, $4.25; and the Alice Baker Memorial Public Library in Eagle, $4.22.

At the other end of the ranking by cost per circulation transaction was West Bend Community Memorial Library with $2.22; the W.J. Niederkorn Library in Port Washington, $2.40; Mukwonago Community Library, $2.42; Pauline Haass Public Library in Sussex, $2.62; Waterford Public Library, $2.67; U.S.S. Liberty Memorial Public Library in Grafton, $2.73; Germanton Community Library, $2.74; New Berlin Public Library, $2.75; Cedarburg Public Library, $2.87; and Frank L. Weyenberg Library in Mequon, $2.99.

For the sake of comparison, the Milwaukee Public Library system’s cost per circulation was $7.60, according to the study.

In all, Wisconsin has 387 public libraries.

As the Taxpayers Alliance study shows, libraries remain a much-used and valuable resource for citizens in this electronic information age.

And libraries, so heavily dependent on public funds, are just as jeopardized by tight budgets as any other municipal service.

Call Amy Rinard at (262) 650-3184 or e-mail [email protected]

Copyright 2005, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

August 12, 2005 - Reference Librarian Karen Hurd, who headed the Adult Services department, retired after 11 years (a Waukesha county librarian for 30 years) on the PHPL staff, Ralph Illick is her replacement. With Ralph's promotion, Reference Librarian Becky Sorenson joined the staff on August 29th. Source: Pauline Haass Public Library News, Volume 18, No. 1, Fall 2005.

Library wants to close chapter on land Haass Library Board wants a new legal opinion on who should control proceeds from bequest of property

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Author: DAVE SHEELEY, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Town of Lisbon — Pauline Haass Public Library officials are attempting to straighten out a longstanding dispute that arose with the donation of land by Pauline Haass .

The Library Board this month voted to obtain a new legal opinion on whether the board or the Town Board should control proceeds from the bequest of the 65-acre Haass property donated to the town in the 1980s.

It will be the second time the Library Board has sought an opinion on the bequest, and the third time that an attorney has prepared an opinion on the matter. Both boards obtained attorneys’ opinions in 1997, and those opinions had opposing viewpoints.

But both boards agree the money will be spent on the library.

The Library Board vote came before a Nov. 17 town meeting where town electors on a 27-25 vote shot down the Town Board’s proposal to sell the former Haass property at the southwest corner of Lake Five and Hickory roads. It is farmland zoned for residential use.

State law requires residents’ approval before a town can sell land.

Retired schoolteacher and longtime Lisbon resident Haass bequeathed cash and the property to the town to create a library for residents. She died in 1985.

Later that decade, the town struck an agreement with Sussex to launch a joint library district. The district built a library on Main St. in Sussex in the mid-1990s.

Lisbon supervisors proposed selling the Haass land — whose value exceeds $1 million — and investing proceeds from the sale.

Interest earned from that investment would be used to help pay for the library’s annual operating budget and knock down debt from the library’s construction. The town also thinks returning the tax-exempt property to the tax rolls would benefit residents.

But electors thought otherwise.

"I think the main argument was that land values are increasing rapidly, and it would make more sense to hold onto the land," Town Clerk Jeff Musche said.

Under that argument, the land would be of higher value in the future, especially with property values in the town increasing 8% and more annually, Musche said.

But there was other debate.

"The issue is, ‘Who would control the spending of that money?’ " Musche said.

The town argues that because the property was donated to the town, the town should spend proceeds in support of the library, Musche said.

Money for library, boards agree

Emil Glodoski of Lisbon, vice president of the Library Board, said the control issue is not a major disagreement or dividing issue in the community since both boards agree the money supports the library.

However, Glodoski said the Library Board wants to seek clarification on which entity oversees the land sale proceeds.

A 1997 opinion by then-Town Attorney Gerald Schmitz says the Library Board does have control of expenditures of donated funds.

However, in this case, the Haass donation was made before the Library Board was created, Schmitz argues.

An opposing opinion was prepared by attorney Brian Lanser at the request of Joy Botts, former library director.

Lanser says in his opinion that Haass ’ will and an agreement between Sussex and Lisbon creating the joint library aren’t clear in defining which entity controls the bequest.

But that ambiguity is resolved by state statutes, which say that library boards have control of all assets bequeathed to municipalities for library purposes, according to Lanser.

"Therefore, under the statute, the Library Board would control all of the assets given under the will, even though the bequest was made to the town," he wrote.

Copyright 2005, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.


Library History - Part 1


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