Waukesha, Wisconsin might be most famous for being a "guitar town." It's the birthplace of Les Paul, music pioneer and inventor of the iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar. But the Waukesha Public Library also deserves fame for its innovative programs and dedication to its community. With the help of TechSoup's Refurbished Computer Initiative (RCI), the library is able to provide the valuable service of public access computers to Waukesha residents.
A Dynamic and Diverse Community
Located west of Milwaukee, Waukesha has a population of about 71,000. The library is the largest in a system of 17 libraries, and it serves about 100,000 people. The library supports a wide range of community members, everybody from tech-savvy students (the Waukesha school district has an iPad program) to manga-loving teens (who publish a biannual teen-created fanzine) to those who are homebound.
Waukesha has also increased its materials and services for non-English speaking people and English-language learners. The city has a growing Hispanic community that makes up more than 10 percent of the total population. The library works with local nonprofits, such as La Casa de Esperanza and the Waukesha Hispanic Collaborative Network, to provide Spanish-language programming, such as parenting classes and story times. The library works with the Greater Waukesha Literacy Council to mentor and tutor adults in English as a second language, reading, writing, spelling, and math.