Expanded, Renovated Walter E. Olson Memorial Library Reopens Today

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Walter E. Olson Memorial Library

The Walter E. Olson Memorial Library is a great transformational project that delivers on meeting the changing needs of the community.


The newly expanded and renovated Walter E. Olson Memorial Library will finally reopen today. State of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and philanthropist and retired Colonel Jennifer Pritzker will join Vilas County residents and the local VWF in celebrating the reopening of the historic public library with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, grand celebration event and tour of the new wing.

The new building now has an additional 4,500 square feet of space and houses new study areas and quiet reading rooms, a new public meeting room, young adult and teen space, self-check station and a technology area dedicated to digital creations. Externally, the library will have 19 parking spaces and an ADA space close to the library entry. A 21st-century water management system for decreased runoff into the City storm water system was also installed.

More than 35,000 books will line the walls of the new library, which started in 1897 as a small reading room. Today, the Walter E. Olson Memorial Library is one of several joint libraries in the state of Wisconsin, and is supported by six separate municipal entities, the City of Eagle River and the towns of Cloverland, Conover, Lincoln, St. Germain and Washington in Wisconsin.

“The Walter E. Olson Memorial Library is a great transformational project that delivers on meeting the changing needs of the community,” said Nan Andrews, library director of the Walter E. Olson Memorial Library. “The updated library not only serves as a community and cultural center but a technology hub for our residents to explore, interact and imagine,”

More than $2.5 million was raised to renovate and expand the library, with the majority of the donation coming from retired Col. Jennifer Pritzker, a notable philanthropist and entrepreneur, and president and founder of the TAWANI Foundation, the philanthropic arm of TAWANI Enterprises, Inc. Overall, the TAWANI Foundation has given more than $102 million through 2017 to provide support in the areas of arts and culture, historical preservation, health and wellness, LGBT and human rights, education and environmental initiatives, and has pledged another $30 million dollars through 2026. The Pritzker Military Foundation, which supports organizations that preserve military history and provides essential resource to active military, veterans and families of service members in all branches of the United States Armed Forces has given more than $4.2 million since its inception in 2017 and has pledged another $7 million in commitments through 2021.

Other gifts were raised from private donations. More than 30 volunteers dedicated their time weekly to help support the library.

“Congratulations to the Walter E. Memorial Library. I am honored to help dedicate the Abram Nicolas Pritzker and Robert Pritzker Wing, after my grandfather and father respectfully,” said retired Col. Pritzker. “Through these men, I was taught the importance of investing in the community you live. This building stays true to its legendary design but adds more modern features, open spaces, environmentally-friendly materials and opportunities for the community. I hope this library is a place for community-building connections.”

The renovation and expansion also included a cozy fireplace in the adult area for reading and talking, an expanded Children's area, a book drop directly into the building on the east side and interior glass walls to extend natural light and provide supervision and visually share features and a larger information desk.

For more information about the Walter E. Olson Memorial Library, please visit http://olsonlibrary.org or on Facebook at @OlsonMemorialLibrary.

About the Walter E. Olson Memorial Library
The Walter E. Olson Memorial Library is a public library that serves six municipalities and is located in the city of Eagle River, Wisconsin. The library is organized to assemble, preserve, and administer an organized collection of books and other materials. Such a collection aids in the communication of ideas and promotes an enlightened citizenry and enriches their lives. The library aims to serve the community as a center of reliable information and to provide a place where inquiring minds may meet original and often critical ideas that are essential stimulants to life in a society that depends for endurance on the free exchange and competition of ideas. For more information on the library visit http://www.olsonlibrary.org or call 715-479-8070.

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Brad Bennett

Brad Bennett

Brad grew up in a small town in northern Iowa. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children.
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