Learning Futures Project

When McMillan opened in 1970, the Adult Room was a hub of activity. The card catalog and reference collection were there, as was an LP vinyl listening station. 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 updates. This is our Learning Futures project, which will reshape a major part the building to meet the current and future needs of the community. The estimated costs for renovating 15,000 square foot is two million dollars. 

    In February 2020, 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, and other donors, the project is proceeding. The Library Board established a public fundraising goal of $400,000 to settle the finances. We have already raised over $109,500 of that. Fundraising will continue through 12/31/2020.

    We are accepting donations online or via a paper form, but larger donations should contact our Business Office at 715-422-5129 so we can supply tax documentation. We have a list of naming rights and recognition levels.

    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),

    What benefits and new services will the project bring? 

    Skill building / training 

    Lifelong learning is a top priority at McMillan. We provide Gale Courses (hundreds of online classes) 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.


    Concerts / movies in theater

    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 all events are presented without charge, it serves the entire community.  Redesigning the space for music and projection is necessary, since the 1970 design did not foresee such use.


    Enterprise Center

    An enterprise center supports 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 theaterility, 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.


    Speakers / community use of theater

    McMillan provides 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 in theater

    Performers, musicians and movies are an important part of our children’s program. In addition to their cultural and educational impact, they have a social and community value. 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 / 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 theatere to theatere 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 creative space. 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.