Image by Andy Thompson

On Wednesday, November 23, I toured Bullard Sanford Memorial Library in downtown Vassar, Michigan. BSML was the 6th library I visited for the 30Y.30L Campaign.

Location
BSML is located in the City of Vassar, Michigan which is situated in the southwest portion of Tuscola County. Vassar is just a hop, skip, and a jump from “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth.

Depending upon the route taken, in geographic terms, BSML is between 83 and 105 miles northwest of Kresge-Purdy Library which houses the School of Library and Information Science on Wayne State University’s campus in downtown Detroit, Michigan.

Namesake

Bullard Sanford Memorial Library

The library was originally named after Emma Bullard who generously donated her house and property to the library. According to the library’s website, the agency operated out of her home for 56 years. The Sanford part of the name came in 1962 when funds from the Anely Sanford Memorial Trust allowed the library to construct a new building on the Bullard property. More about the library’s history…

Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
The geographic service area for Bullard Sanford is huge: 80 square miles! Areas served include the following: City of Vassar, Tuscola Township, Vassar Township, and part of Juniata Township. From the library’s website:

Currently, the Bullard Sanford Memorial Library is a municipal entity onto itself, and is governed by a Library Board composed of representatives of the four municipalities that fund the district library.

The service area comprises of about 10,000 citizens giving Bullard Sanford a Class III size designation by the Library of Michigan making this library the largest I’ve toured for the 30Y.30L Campaign. According to the Library of Michigan, a Class III library:

  • Serves a population of 7,000 to 11,999 and needs to;
  • Be open a minimum of 30 hours per week.
  • Employ (at least 30 hours per week) a director with at least a Level 3 certificate.

BSML has 40,000 items (and growing) in its collection and circulates about 2,500 items a month making the annual circulation around 30,000 materials. The operating budget is around $400,000.

Director Eric Andreychuk

About the Director
At the time of my tour, Director Eric Andreychuk had been on the job for 3 weeks. Prior to his new position, the 2009 CMU journalism alum worked at the Vassar library for the past three years and served as a reporter for the Tuscola County Advertiser. Moving into his new position wasn’t exactly planned…

Long-time director and library advocate Jim Rancilio unexpectedly passed away on September 8, 2011. Kate Van Auken, Director of Rawson Memorial Library, offers a few words about Rancilio:

Jim loved Wayne State. When I told him I had applied to graduate school to get my Masters in Library Science at Wayne, he told me what a far, far better school Wayne was than “that school up the road in Ann Arbor.” I know when I graduate he will be with me.

He always wore a suit. He was always very professionally dressed and to me that is very important in being taken seriously in our profession.

He loved babies, teens, seniors and all those in between. This is evident in every aspect of his programming at this library.

He had the messiest office I do think I have ever seen. But he always seemed to know where things were…

He was so passionate about the cultural events he held at the library, especially his beloved concert series. I remember once he told me, and forgive me if you have heard this, but when he would host concerts on Sunday in the library before this addition was built, he said it was so intimate that those in the front row could just about turn the page for the performer. His concert series inspired Vickie Mazure at Harbor Beach to support similar programming.

He was a fabulous tailor and costume designer which I found out at Jim’s funeral. This I never knew. So he really had two great loves…his library and the theatre.

He did such creative teen programming. He wanted these teens to have a safe haven, a fun place on Halloween, an overnight on New Year’s Eve, or even a field trip to the Renaissance Festival that he obtained a grant for. This is something many area libraries have tried to emulate.

He drove the bookmobile and was proud of that vehicle. It helped him create the “Read and Feed” program which was one of the most creative collaborations I have ever heard of.

I would ask about how funding was going and if he had luck with obtaining grants and he would say, “Did I tell you they are going to build a garage for the bookmobile?” He was all about outreach and that vehicle is the ultimate community outreach for those at-risk kids.

He was Librarian of the Year in 2007. I was one of the people who submitted a letter of recommendation for Jim. When I found out he won, I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled when I was able to attend the dinner where he was acknowledged. It was a great moment for Jim and a great moment for small rural libraries especially in the Thumb of MI. He represented us!

I am sure one of the biggest things I will remember about Jim was his passion and desire to make sure small and rural libraries were not forgotten when it came to funding. He was our biggest cheerleader with our legislators and those in Lansing.

To prove this point I have to tell you about a meeting last week that a group of librarians from Tuscola County had with Senator Mike Green to discuss the proposed elimination of the personal property tax. Senator Green conveyed his condolences and said, “When we lost Jim, we lost our biggest library advocate.” He then wondered who was going to step up. The four librarians at the table looked around and then looked back at Senator Green and said, “Well there are four of us here right now; we think we are doing just that.” And as I looked at my colleagues I felt there really were five of us fighting for this library funding because Jim will be with us at every turn when it comes to advocacy.

And we have to remember as a library family we are faced with ever-decreasing revenues and we have make sure our voice is heard. We need to be advocates for our own libraries and our communities. We have to stand up for our communities and our patrons best interests.

It is what Jim would want us to do…

Special Collections
Sheet music collection, the Pioneer Times, circulating toy collection, a modestly-sized non-fiction large print collection, and a quilting/sewing/crocheting collection.

Special Projects
Thanks to both a local writer and an illustrator, plus a plethora of local businesses that sponsored the project, Bullard Sanford Library has produced a book titled The Library Book. From the library’s website:

The Library Book is a children’s picture storybook about a new library book that finds a home in Vassar’s Bullard Sanford Memorial Library. His first new friend is a Library card, who introduces him the all the Library has to offer.

Signed copies of the book will be on sale for $12.50 at the Library. All proceeds from the book will benefit the Library

Of Note…
BSML has a HUGE reference collection! (About 3 stacks worth of materials…)

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