learn about our history
OWLS is a federation of the public libraries in Outagamie and Waupaca counties. Each member library is completely autonomous, funded and governed locally, but contracts with OWLS for the purpose of coordinating and strengthening services. OWLS does not ordinarily provide direct library service; instead, it serves patrons through their local library. (Look at Member Libraries for a complete listing of federation participants.)
We are governed by a fifteen member board of trustees representing both counties. The trustees, appointed for three-year terms by the counties, meet monthly.
OWLS Provides the Following Services
Residents of the system may use any of the public libraries in the two counties. In addition, OWLS has agreements which allow patrons to use many other public libraries in the state.
OWLS member libraries borrow materials directly from each other and from the libraries in Nicolet Federated Library System that belong to OWLSnet. If an item is not available in the area, the librarian can ask system staff to borrow the material from other libraries throughout Wisconsin and beyond. Materials located through interlibrary loan are sent directly to the local library for the patron’s use.
OWLS sponsors a number of continuing education activities each year for librarians and trustees. Each year the system also holds informal meetings to facilitate discussion among the member librarians about issues and problems of mutual concern. The system also provides scholarship aid for those who wish to attend other workshops and conferences.
Grants for programming from the system help children’s librarians bring special activities to their communities each summer. In addition, the system sponsors special meetings and programs during the year to help children’s librarians to share and develop their skills.
OWLS professional staff also offers consulting services on all facets of library service and development.
OWLS offers design and printing services for the member libraries and system programs. System staff design and print newsletters, brochures, booklists, flyers, bookmarks, and other materials.
The Appleton Public Library serves as the system’s resource library. OWLS works with Appleton to develop services and collections that address the needs of the entire system area. For example, the system contracts with Appleton to provide original cataloging of materials for the shared automation network (OWLSnet).
OWLS operates a shared, integrated library automation network (OWLSnet) for OWLS member libraries and member libraries of the Nicolet Federated Library System. OWLSnet services include circulation control, public access catalog, resource sharing, and Internet access.
The system actively supports the work of Fox Valley Literacy each year by providing them with printing, postage, and additional support.