Where in Dane County is the Simpson Street Free Press?
Cross Plains Library Building Proves Green Is Beautiful--and Functional
by Claire Miller, age 17
On a recent sunny Saturday, Free Press reporters took a short trip from Madison to Cross Plains. This is a cute little town just west of Middleton on Highway 14. Cross Plains also happens to be where Wisconsin’s first ever “green library” is located. The Rosemary Garfoot Public Library is built to the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
To our way of thinking, this fact alone was enough for a Saturday road trip. We love to explore and investigate, and this was a pretty drive. But when we arrived we discovered much more than we expected.
The newly established library was built on its original foundations and largely with recycled materials from the previous Cross Plains library building, which was constructed in 1964. The new building now serves as an important community center and as an excellent example of environmental responsibility.
Prior to entering the lobby, visitors are welcomed by a beautiful rain garden on the front lawn. Rain gardens are designed to fill up with a few inches of rain that drain from the rooftops, driveways, and surrounding streets. Then plants within the garden filter the water as it is slowly absorbed into the ground. This strategy helps prevent rainwater from running off into storm drains or adding pollutants to rivers and lakes.
The entire library is made from environmentally-conscious materials. For example, the floor mat near the entrance is made entirely from recycled tires, and the carpeting is made from squares of recycled carpet scraps. The flooring around the check-out counter and many of the window frames are made from cork. The library’s countertops are made from sunflower seed by-products and the cupboards are made from wheat board, a by-product of wheat processing.
Though this may sound expensive, “going green“ actually costs about 30 percent less in construction and operating expenses.
To further reduce the cost and output of air conditioning, the library is equipped with ceiling fans and the walls are insulated with recycled blue jeans. North-facing windows fill the space with natural light but reduce the harsh heat of the sun. Lighting in the library is about 40 percent more efficient than traditional lighting systems.
While the building itself is very impressive, this is a great library for many reasons. It is a quiet and beautiful setting. We were there on a Saturday and noticed several people our age studying, relaxing, or just reading. The staff is friendly and helpful, and there are many comfortable corners and places to sit.
This library’s layout is really nice and very welcoming. There are plenty of computers and the facilities are excellent.
The library currently features a small exhibit on Native American bone tools. A number of well-preserved 16th century tools from the Arikara village in South Dakota are displayed. The exhibit also details how paintings and drawings by Carl Bodmer, Charles Catlin and others who visited Native American villages during the 18th and 19th century today give anthropologists a much stronger idea of how these tools were used.
The Rosemary Garfoot Public Library is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9-8, Tuesday and Friday from 9-5, and Saturday from 10-2. Go visit. We are sure you’ll find it a very special place.