Menomonie Public Library holds its first speed friending event

The Menomonie Public Library and UW-Stout Library partnered to bring the community and school closer

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“Speed Friending” is an inclusive event bringing UW-Stout and the community of Menomonie closer.

The Menomonie Public Library hosted its first ever “Speed Friending” event from 1-3 p.m. last Sunday. The event, which has previously taken place at the UW-Stout Library, found a new setting to bring community members and students together to share ideas and thoughts.

Ann Vogl, a Distance Learning librarian from UW-Stout, said the idea for this event originally started as a human library, which pairs people up and asks them to give a description of who they are. This was a little intimidating, so the idea transitioned to more of a “Speed Friending” event which provides questions for both of the participants.

After consuming a variety of snacks and coffee, people were eager to sit and chat about themselves. Honest conversation with one another seemed to flow naturally in the safe space.

A wide range of people take part in this event because it is open to all ages and costs nothing to participate in.

Elizabeth Steans, a Circulation Supervisor at UW-Stout Library, said it is an opportunity for campus and community members to connect.

“This is a way to see what the combined population of the community members and campus looks like when they experience conversation together,” Steans said. “We try to convey an open dialogue to create a safe space for conversations to take place.”

Vogl said the event originally aimed to connect students and faculty but has developed into involving the community as well.

“We wanted to engage the students,” Vogl said. “The students really like talking to the community members and getting to know them.”

The students are not the only people who benefit from the event. Members of the community said they really enjoy staying in contact with the university and its students.

Marion Lang, a member of Menomonie Cares, a local community support group, said the event has a very good energy between people.

“This is part of a larger connection,” Lang said. “The continued contact with what the university offers and its programs helps us join together . . . There is no inside or outside, we are all one community.”

The event goes deeper than connecting the students with the community around the university. Rundi Myklebust, an Adult Services Assistant at the Menomonie Public Library, said another aim of the event is to teach kids how to converse with one another.

“Students really prefer texting instead of being with each other and socializing,” Myklebust said. “We are trying to get the students out of their phones to learn how to talk to people.”

Having the event at the public library allows for a broad population of people and an opportunity for everyone to take part. Steans said they really try to convey an open dialogue with “inclusivity and diversity.”

The next “Speed Friending” event takes place on the first floor of the UW-Stout Library from 9:40 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Mar. 29.