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Elm Grove Library bids farewell to board president

Aug. 19, 2014

After spending the better part of a decade helping make books, movies and reference materials available to his fellow citizens, Mike Flanigan has stepped down from the Elm Grove Public Library Board.

The exodus comes at the end of an eight-year tenure on the board, including the last seven as president of the board.

"I'm of the opinion that people should only serve on a board for a period of time," Flanigan said. "Their ideas get stale after awhile. It's time to get new and fresh blood on board, and it's time for me to do some other things."

Flanigan has fond memories of his time working with the library and is proud of its popularity within the village.

"What's interesting about Elm Grove is that it serves a population of about 6,300 and, of all the libraries in Waukesha County, it has the highest number of items loaned out per person," he said. "We have a circulation of over 100,000 items a year. That compares very favorably with some larger libraries."

Bonnie Klamik will be taking over Flanigan's duties, effective Aug. 18. Klamik knows she has some large shoes to fill.

"He has such a wide breadth of knowledge in so many different areas," Klamik said. "It will be hard to follow that. I'll have some catching up to do to get to the level where he was at."

Klamik noted that despite no longer officially being a part of the board, Flanigan has offered his counsel and assistance to her.

"He's been very forthcoming to me in terms of just calling any time," she said. "He's very eager to stay helpful."

As for Flanigan, he is confident Klamik will be able to pick up where he left off and bring new success to the library.

"(Klamik) will do an outstanding job with the board," Flanigan said. "There's some really excellent people on the board too."

The Elm Grove Public Library is currently searching for a new director, with Sarah Muench assuming the position in interim. The transitional phase was another reason Flanigan elected to step down this summer.

"I felt that since I planned to step down anyhow, that the selection of the new director ought to be in the hands of the new board," Flanigan said.

Flanigan moved to Elm Grove in 1986 from the Chicago area. He says his finest memories with the library include its 50th anniversary celebration in 2012, and the modernization of the facility, including more extensive offerings of multimedia, and renovations.

The former board president specifically took the time to thank Friends of the Elm Grove Library and its 230 members.

"Our Friends group is probably the most active in the state and one of the most successful," Flanigan said. "They completely rebuilt the children's area of the library, and they also rebuilt the study room. They maintain the plants and do events that raise a lot of money for the library."

Serving the Elm Grove Library is only the latest stage in a life of community service from Flanigan. He has previously been a trustee for the Village of Elm Grove, and served on the board for United Way.

Flanigan is semi-retired but remains active in his own business, Midwest Business Group, and also teaches entrepreneurship at Carroll University. He graduated from Augusta State University with a degree in business and later earned his master's from Harvard Business School.

"I enjoy staying active; it keeps me going," Flanigan said. "I'm the type of person who really appreciates a challenge and overcoming it."

Flanigan's official last day on the board was July 31. Library staff, Friends of the Elm Grove Library and board members held a reception for Flanigan on Thursday, Aug. 14, to commemorate his service.

"It was very nice. People seemed very appreciative," Flanigan said. "I've enjoyed my time on the board and I love the library. It's time for someone else to get some new ideas in there."

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