Pritzl likes library planning group progress

Warren Bluhm
News Editor

Outgoing Oconto County Administrator Erik Pritzl said Nov. 16 that he is especially pleased with progress of the library planning committee, which has been meeting with June to study ways to better serve library patrons in the southern part of the county.

The county has been struggling with an annual invoice from Brown County charging for the use of its library branches by Oconto County residents. State law allows counties with consolidated library systems, like Brown, to charge neighboring counties.

Oconto County has six local and joint libraries in Oconto, Oconto Falls, Gillett, Lena, Suring and Lakewood. The county’s possible solutions include creating its own consolidated system including a branch serving the southern towns of Chase and Little Suamico, which account for most of the Brown County usage.

The local boards have resisted consolidation in the past because of the potential loss of autonomy. Pritzl said the planning committee meetings have evolved from “positions and stakes and things” to an attitude of collaboration to solve the issues.

“You heard some ‘northern county, southern county’ stuff early on,” Pritzl said. “By yesterday (Nov. 15), our most recent meeting, that’s gone. It’s ‘How do we make this work together, we don’t want to leave anyone out to dry, so to speak, we want to make sure that this works for everybody.’ That’s where we always want things to be, to get to that teamwork and collaboration.”

County Board Chairman Alan Sleeter, who also serves on the committee, agreed that the panel has been developing a sense of cooperation and mutual benefit, and he credited Pritzl for nurturing that attitude.

“Going forward I got a lot of optimism we’ll get this done,” Sleeter said.