WiLS January 2018 Member Interview: Steve Platteter, Arrowhead Library System
One of our greatest joys at WiLS is hearing our members tell the stories of the big and important work they are doing – interesting new projects or initiatives, or even interesting and new approaches to old projects. And, in addition to hearing about it, it makes us even happier when we can share those stories with other members. Each month, WiLS is proud to feature an interview with one of our library members. This month, we interview Steve Platteter, Director of Arrowhead Library System and WiLS Board Chair-elect!
Why did you, personally, choose to work in libraries?
At the end of 1991, I found myself contemplating a career change. I had just been downsized as a photojournalist and did some serious soul-searching. It was then that I realized libraries how much I enjoyed libraries and after some research decided this is the path for me. I enrolled in the UW-Milwaukee MLIS program in 1992 and graduated in December of 1993. From the start of my library career, I was involved with library automation, first setting up a standalone ILS at the Cedarburg Public Library. Then I moved to managing the shared integrated library system (ILS) at the Southwest Wisconsin Library System and finally to the former Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System. In 2012, I was looking for a new challenge. Ruth Ann Montgomery had just retired as director of the Arrowhead Library System (ALS) and I applied for that position. What has resulted has been a wonderful and exciting five years!
What is unique about the culture of your library? How do you influence it?
Arrowhead is one of 16 regional Wisconsin library systems and one of the three remaining single-county library systems. With seven libraries, we are one of the smaller library systems, but our member libraries run the full range of sizes, from Orfordville with a service population of around 2,895 to Janesville’s Hedberg Public Library, service population of 81,185. The Clinton, Eager Free (Evansville), Edgerton, Milton and Beloit Public Libraries fall in between. I feel our libraries excel in programming and one of our most important system services is promoting that programming. We have a full-time Public Relations Coordinator on staff who not only does design work for our libraries but also works with local press outlets to ensure maximum visibility of local library programming.
I’d like to think my influence is consensus building. With seven libraries it’s possible to meet with each of the ALS library directors to discuss and work through issues. I am also lucky in having three member library directors as ex-officio members of the Arrowhead Library System Board.
I feel our libraries excel in programming and one of our most important system services is promoting that programming.
What do you think is important to know about the community you work with? What helps you understand their needs?
As a single county library system, Arrowhead has a very close relationship with Rock County. The county is our fiscal agent and we are considered a somewhat autonomous county department. The current county administrator is interested in library issues and is approachable. The County Board has also been supportive.
The community we primarily serve are our seven member libraries and we work to tailor our services to their needs. Our public relations, ILS, and delivery services are good examples of this. Our library directors meet monthly. Four libraries share board members with the ALS Board and three member library directors also act as ex-officio members of the Board.
What big ideas are being worked on at your library? What problems are being solved?
Arrowhead and its member libraries are very excited to be joining the SHARE Consortium this month (January 2018), combining our shared catalog with that of the Lakeshores and Kenosha County Library Systems. This level of collaboration is new to us and that’s what so exciting. Besides a catalog increase from 750,000 items to over 2.15 million, Rock County patrons can expect to see new “bells and whistles” such as a mobile app, text message notifications, a “Favorite Author Club,” and improved integration of digital content such as Overdrive and Hoopla. It’s also exciting to think of what other possible collaborations this opens the door to.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share here?
Please come and visit some great public libraries in Rock County!
These interviews are part of a series of interviews with both WiLS library and vendor partners. Your feedback is appreciated. If you have any to offer on this article, or suggestions for upcoming interviews, contact Andrea Coffin at .