Waukesha County Federated Library System (WCFLS)

Tom Hennen was the Director of this 16-member library system from 1999 until his retirement in 2013.  Waukesha, a county of nearly 500,000 adjacent to Milwaukee County merged with adjacent Jefferson County to become Bridges Library System in 2016. Hennen’s experience with long range planning for the system as well as its member libraries helped lead to his planning bookand the founding of Hennen Library Consulting.  

Governance Options Study

In 2006 Tom Hennen was the director of Waukesha County federated library system.  At his suggestion, Waukesha County conducted an extensive governance options study. Hennen knew that recommending a potential restructuring of the library service model for the entire county was highly controversial.  Nevertheless, he believed in the need to examine all options available to the county and its libraries.

The County retained a library consulting firm for a study of governance and funding options.  The study and process  included looking at alternate service delivery methods available in Wisconsin.  It also considered possible statutory changes that might be needed for a restructuring.

The year-long process was stressful for many participants.  Examining options involves contemplating staff re-structuring, tax shifts, building ownership, and local community pride – to name but a few of the issues!

Waukesha did not radically change governance.  However, as a result of the study, Waukesha renewed its committment to operating standards for all 16 libraries. The penalty for not meeting county standards was not being able to exempt from the county levy.  The county funding formula was also revised based on library circulation data.


Our Governance Options Studies

  1. Making BookGambling on the future of our libraries. (Metro Kansas City)
  2. Libraries Together:  Scott County Iowa
  3. WCCLS Funding & GovernanceWashington County Cooperative Library Service (Oregon)
  4. Racine County Governance 2004  Hennen Library Consulting study

See also:

  1. District Legislation:  Definitions of districts, model district laws, state specific legislation, planning checklist, and related academic research.
  2. Invited Testimony on Libraries to Wisconsin Legislative Study Committee:  Tom Hennen’s testimony on library issues to Wisconsin Legislature.
  3. Is There a Library Consolidation in Your Future:  Link to text of Tom Hennen’s American Libraries magazine article on consolidation.
  4. Standards:  Hennen has published and spoken on the issue of library standards for some time.