Volunteer-Run, Grant-Funded Library Garners National Attention

Started up by a small group of people back in 1979, the Cross Plains Public Library sits right in the middle of downtown.

But it's whats inside that's getting national attention -- again.

"Our library is a very progressive and active library," said director Linda Burns.

In 2010, the location was a finalist for the Library Journal's Best Small Library in America Award.

While they didn't win that one, they did just walk away with the National Public Library Association's Excellence award.

"There was only one chosen in the nation and it was us," said library board member Judy Luter.

Unlike most libraries, this one is not funded by the city or county, and thanks to state budget cuts, the annual $4,000 they used to get for their book budget is gone as of this year.

But that doesn't slow them down one bit.

"We don't have to answer to the city or county for what we do. We just decide what we want to do, find the money and do it. We don't have to listen to them say, we don't have the money so you can't. So it's a good and bad thing," Luter explained.

The library also plays host to pilot programs, testing out ideas that are eventually implemented in branches nationwide.

"They chose us because they wanted a library that was very active," Burns said.

Board members and Burns also work tirelessly to get unique events and exhibits at the library, including an actual tire from the space shuttle Columbia.

Along with about 17,000 books and countless programs, there's also a Nintendo Wii set up, so unlike a traditional library, kids don't have to stay quiet.

"Businesses would probably envy our count. We probably get 30 to 40 people a day and we're only open four hours," Burns.

Along with the recognition that comes with winning this award, the library also receives $1,000.

It's run almost entirely by volunteers and through grants and donations.

So what sets this little library apart from all of the rest may just come down to passion.

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