Growing up with a mother who loved reading gave me an immense appreciation for storytelling. Leading by example, she showed me how important it was to use one’s imagination to dream. Through books, we could escape to another world – for free!
Many summer days throughout my childhood were spent at the Delta Township District Library. Mom would look for books in her section while we kids headed off to our area. As we got older, we took advantage of the library’s DVD collections and rented seasons of “Gilmore Girls” to watch together. When I attended MSU, the Main Library became my place to meet for group projects or gather information to research and write papers.
To this day, libraries still make me excited and hopeful. The stacks of materials are filled with endless journeys and adventures to be had – and I love it . However, the way I’ve come to see the value of libraries has evolved – I see their impact more wholly and community-driven because my experiences with them have extended beyond books.
Here in mid-Michigan, we have a multitude of libraries to choose from. In addition to the Delta Township District Library, there’s the East Lansing Public Library, Capital Area District Libraries system, and of course MSU Libraries, among a host of others. After reading about some of their resources, you’ll feel lucky these places are located here in greater Lansing!
Capital Area District Libraries
Capital Area District Libraries states its goal as, “To make the phrase ‘I didn’t know the library had that’ obsolete,” and I’d venture that they are well on their way to accomplishing that feat.
With 13 locations throughout the greater Lansing area, as well as a traveling Bookmobile, CADL has a little something for everyone: From music or genealogy programming to children’s storytimes and author visits.
Executive director Maureen Hirten said community outreach is important at CADL. “Our central outreach department provides specialized resources in digital literacy, business, local history and youth programming.”
Because kids and adults use the library differently, Hirten explained the different ways the library coordinates its efforts to meet each group’s needs.
“Libraries have always focused on literacy for children, but in recent years CADL has a more focused approach to storytime– using early literacy concepts, providing early literacy spaces in the library and introducing early literacy backpacks and iPads for use with young children.”
And for adults, it’s all about the digital space, which CADL caters to as well.
“Access to knowledge for everyone in the community is a basic tenet of public libraries,” Hirten said. “People from all walks of life are welcome to explore the resources available at their local library.”
She added: “Modern libraries have embraced technology. Trained staff help members of the community access and, in many cases, learn new skills. They do this but remain a community gathering place and an essential avenue of resources for patrons to learn, imagine and connect.”
Delta Township District Library
The Delta Township District Library has a soft spot in my heart, and for good reason. But don’t take my word for it – just check out their fall events lineup.
“This fall, we have a variety of programs for all age groups and interests,” said Rebecca Campbell, Delta Township District Library community relations assistant. “September is Civic Awareness Month, so we are hosting three programs to help highlight that: Age Friendly Communities, a community forum and a volunteer fair. We will also be hosting a Homebrew Beer Contest and Tasting, as well as our regular clubs and programs.”
The library’s youth program also is hosting a Harry Potter Party for the release of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
Just a few years ago, my mom competed in a chocolate dessert bakeoff at Delta Township District Library (which she won!), so clearly, the kinds of community events held there are as unique as the patrons who visit.
And that’s why it’s such a significant and inclusive entity in the community.
“The library is an important resource for the Delta Township community because libraries are more than a collection of books,” Campbell said. “We offer meeting spaces free of charge to non-profit organizations, Internet and computer usage for people who may not be able to afford it, a collaborative environment for youth, and even a leap in technology with things like 3D printers and mobile hotspots.
“And with a large digital library, many people need never step foot in the door while still using the resources we have to offer.”
East Lansing Public Library
East Lansing Public Library has been undergoing a renovation, its first in 20 years, since December 2015. Kristin Shelley, East Lansing Public Library director, says the focus is on digital, interior and data upgrades; an expanded Maker Studio; and enlarged teen area (with a variety of amenities including a cyber cafe), among others.
While it has remained open during most of this time, its doors are currently closed until its official re-opening at noon Oct. 1.
“Closing in September, hard as it is, allows the construction crews to finish up the renovation and put shelving, furniture, library materials and technology in place. ELPL has over 300,000 visitors per year, and we are excited to welcome them into their new space,” Shelley said.
And don’t fret, patrons still have the opportunity to check out materials while the library is closed. All they have to do is visit www.elpl.org and use the Cloud Library, Overdrive, Hoopla and Zinio, Shelley said.
When East Lansing Public Library is back in action and open to the public, some of the programming it provides includes: One Book, One Community; Racial Healing: A community conversation; Maker Studio; Practice Your English Conversation Group; and a variety of others.
“The East Lansing Public Library is essential to the community,” Shelley said. “We must look ahead and move ahead because transformation is vital to the communities we serve.
“ELPL will grow and evolve in how we provide for the needs of the community, and we will continue to change and transform lives.”
Michigan State University is such a big part of the greater Lansing community and its impact is felt widely. But I was unsure – could non-Spartans partake in the vast resources provided by the MSU Libraries system?
They can! Most MSU Libraries’ resources are available to Michigan residents 18 years or older (with a valid state ID), said Katie Diamond, MSU Libraries development assistant and social media coordinator. They are given a community borrower’s card. MSU students, staff and faculty may use their university ID to check out materials.
The Main Library, located along West Circle Drive, comprises most of the MSU Libraries’ services, Diamond said. These include the Digital Multimedia Center, Hollander MakeCentral, Fine Arts Library, Turfgrass Information Center and Map Library, among others.
The Business Library is another central location, on campus along Shaw Lane. Gull Lake Library, which supports the Kellogg Biological Station, is in Hickory Corners, near Kalamazoo.
“There would be a major void on campus without the library, a core component of learning, but also a core component of the university community,” Diamond said.
“The library, to many, is a home away from home, and they can get everything they need (3D printing, computers, café, meeting space, etc) all in one place,” Diamond said. “Spaces like our instruction rooms, Collaborative Technology Labs, and Hollander MakeCentral allow us to offer events and workshops that bring the community together, educate people on important skills for their fields and it’s free to patrons.
“Libraries have shifted over the years from a place you go to get ‘stuff’ (books, journals, etc.) to a place you go to get an experience. We are about more than just books, that’s for sure!”
Where’s your favorite library, and what’s your favorite library resource or program? Let us know in the comments!