Learning Futures @ McMillan

When McMillan opened in 1970, the Adult Room was a hub of activity. The card catalog and reference collection were there and students used the Reader's Guide to find magazine articles for homework. The building was designed around those services. Fifty years later, this large space needs to be repurposed to meet new community needs and the Fine Arts Center (theater) requires new seating and other upgrades. This is our Learning Futures project, which will reshape two major parts of the building (16,000 square feet) to provide new and upgraded services.

Supporting the project

The estimated cost for redesigning and renovating these 16,000 square feet is two million dollars.  The Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin awarded McMillan a one million dollar matching grant. Thanks to funding from the City of Wisconsin Rapids, a commitment from the Library Endowment, a grant from the Bell Family Charitable Trust, the project is proceeding. The Library Board established a public fundraising goal of $400,000 to finalize the finances. We have already raised over $187,000 of that. Fundraising will continue through Memorial Day.

We are accepting donations online or via a paper form, but anyone interested in a larger donation should contact our Business Office at 715-422-5129. We also have a list of naming rights and recognition levels, starting at $250 for a seat in the theater. To learn more about the Learning Futures project, explore out the 3D Renderings, browse the Photo Gallery or read the architect's Final Report (and Appendices). We will load the Final Plan when design development is finished. 

What benefits and new services will the project bring? 

Skill Building & Training 
Lifelong learning is a top priority at McMillan. We provide online resources with information and classes on a variety of subjects and work with community partners on additional educational programs. The Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Premiere and more) is available on Makerspace computers, along with classes on the software. The project removes the physical limitations we have faced. With five small study rooms, a training room, the McCourt Room,  a large meeting room and a renovated auditorium, we will be able to support a wide range of opportunities for the general public.

Cultural and Music Events
Arts-related events, such as the Monday Movies series, the Cowboy Union Jam and other concerts are an important part of McMillan’s program and the cultural life of the community. Not only does McMillan bring  a wide variety of cultural opportunities to the community;  it is an all ages, alcohol free, handicapped accessible venue. Since events are presented without charge, it serves the entire community.  Redesigning the space is necessary, since the 1970 design did not foresee current use, especially in the area of handicapped accessibility. The renovated theater will have dedicated wheelchair seating, a hearing loop and ramp access to the stage.

Enterprise Center
Our enterprise center will support all aspects of a small business, serving as an office and workplace. This helps workers avoid the isolation they may experience while telecommuting, traveling, or working at home, while also eliminating distractions. There is currently no equivalent space within an hour’s drive. When completed, McMillan’s enterprise center will be state of the art. It will include small meeting rooms, quiet work rooms, an additional training / meeting room, CAD/CAM software, a fully equipped makerspace / prototyping facility, and Adobe Creative Cloud software (Premiere, Photoshop and more), as well as a coffee shop and standard business equipment. The enterprise center will incorporate many aspects of the coworking concept.

Music and Sound Recording
The project builds on the area’s strong musical tradition with an expanded and custom designed sound recording studio. The studio will include sound mixing and post-production software. Staff can assist fledgling podcasters. The Theater is available for live recordings / live streams, as well as audio / video recordings with a professional level soundboard, video equipment and lighting. This will be one of the finest publicly available spaces in the country.

Community Gathering
McMillan’s theater and meeting rooms provide a free space where government agencies, nonprofits and even interested individuals can gather to discuss, inform and enrich the community. The theater is a unique resource, allowing for larger gatherings than most libraries can handle. Renovating the theater will make this resource both more handicapped accessible and more flexible. 

Quiet Study and Work
Students, telecommuters, mobile workers and others sometimes require a quiet place to work, either alone or in small groups. McMillan hosts about 250,000 people annually, so quiet spots can be hard to find. The open plan Adult Room is not suited to such use. The project creates five quiet rooms and a secluded area in the far corner of the Adult Room. 


Children’s Programs
Performers, musicians and movies are an important part of our children’s program. In addition to their cultural and educational impact, they have an important social and community component. The programs encourage traffic by children and families, increasing use of our collections and reading.  Redesigning the theater to better support these services will be a significant improvement. 

Support for Online/ In Person Classes and Meetings
The last six months have seen a steep increase in online meetings and educational offerings. The existing open plan of the Adult Room does not support these well. The project addresses this with five small study rooms and a larger training room. The rooms also function as face to face tutorial or meeting space. This will relieve pressure on the heavily booked McCourt and All-Purpose rooms, which are essential resources for many community groups and organizations. 

Creative Space 
The project converts the Adult Room into a large Learning Commons. This starts with the Makerspace. Programs for tweens, teens and adults. Programming covers the technical and artistic / artisan; including sculpture (both physical and digital), painting, textiles, photography, video, CAD/CAM, circuits, coding, robotics and writing. The meeting and training rooms are also an important part of building a creative space. 

Thank you to the many people who help make the project a reality.


Learn more about the Learning Futures project, explore out the 3D Renderings, browse the Photo Gallery or read the architect's Final Report (and Appendices). We will load the Final Plan when design development is finished.