New Reading Room Tops Off Mead Library

Eckardt, Mary. The Sheboygan Press. September 13, 2004, page A3.

A $150,000 newspaper and periodicals reading room on the third floor of Mead Public Library has opened at no expense to taxpayers, according to library director Sharon Winkle.

Overlooking Sheboygan's downtown, complete with cafe vending, is Jerry Black's Cafe, NewStand and Mead Reading Room.

The room includes the display of a collection of more than 70 Ruben Vega watercolors, a gift of the Kohler Foundation.

Jerry Black was the radio name of Dr. Jerome Maas, who made memorial donations for the children's library in honor of his late wife, Mead children's librarian Henrietta A. Landwehr.

The Children's Room is also on the third floor. The move vacates the reading area on the first floor which will become a teen library area.

Bernie Markevitch, vice president of the Mead Public Library board of trustees and also on the board of the library's foundation and chairman of the committee to recommend the project, explained further.

"It's a wonderful thing. We have tapes of his radio show in Indianapolis and, in this time of money crunches, we want the public to know this was all done with no expense to the taxpayer," Markevitch said.

Some project funding came from the Friends of Mead Library, the Mead Library Foundation, and the Kohler Foundation along with some contributions from the public.

The Frank G. and Frieda K. Brotz Family Foundation funded the NewStand for the magazines and newspapers in the room.

Jean Osborn Schilder, a granddaughter of James Mead, funded the quiet reading room.

The Kohler Foundation also gave the money for framing the Vega watercolors. The paintings line the west wall opposite the east wall. The paintings depict former scenes you could once see in the places you can now see through the windows.

"We are thrilled with all these gifts," said Markevitch. "We really lucked out in ways no one could predict."

"The room is glass on two sides, and on gray Wisconsin days, it warms and invites. It is a welcoming place for readers," Markevitch said.

Rayn Bakker of Sheboygan, a 2004 North High graduate, is beginning classes at the local University of Wisconsin campus. He thought the room was "a nice change and more isolated from downstairs." He was catching up on current events, with the newspapers and magazines because it saves him money to use the publications at the library.

Jennifer Lehrke, an architect, was hired as a design consultant and presented three color schemes to the committee, Markevitch said.

The committee was made up of Sam Zelpe, Francha Barnard, Sharon Quicker, library staff Sharon Winkle and Rick Gustafson, and led by Markevitch.

The newly-finished room is just to the southeast of the children's room, and as you enter there are about five or six small cafe tables with chairs. There are vending machines to the left and the Vega wall to the right.

Periodical display cases and a newspaper "wall" fill the rest of the room.

Sharron Quasius Jensen and Markevitch laid out the arrangement of the Vega collection on the wine-red wall.

Jerry Black's is open at the Mead Public Library when the library is open: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.