Image by Andy Thompson

On Friday, December 2, I headed just a few miles from home and met with Kelli Lovasz, director of North Branch Township Library.

The Village of North Branch is located in the northeastern corner of Lapeer County. Highway M-90 runs right through the downtown area with M-53 and  M-24 just to the east and west, respectively. For those not familiar with the area, North Branch Township Library is exactly 74 miles almost due north of Purdy-Kresge Library, home of the School of Library and Information Science, on Wayne State University’s downtown Detroit campus.

North Branch Township Library has been in their current building for 7 years. Prior to their move, they were housed across the street with the township offices.

Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
As you can tell by the library’s name, North Branch Township Library serves the Village of North Branch as well as the township. Due to several outlying branches of Lapeer District Library, NBTL serves parts of Deerfield and Rich Townships in addition to all of Arcadia Township. The population in the library’s legal service area is 3,595.

According to the Library of Michigan, a Class I library:

  • Serves a population of 3,999 or less and needs to;
  • Open a minimum of 15 hours per week.
  • Employ (at least 15 hours per week) a director with at least a Level 4 certificate.

North Branch Township Library is currently open 52 hours a week, employs 7 staff, and has an operating budget of $101,000. The library has 38,000 items in its collection.

About the Director
Kelli Lovasz has worked for North Branch Township Library for the last 7 years and has been in her current position, as director, for the past 2 years. Karen Lambert, the previous director of 31 years, has served as a mentor for Kelli in her new position. 

Like so many of the directors interviewed, Kelli’s professional roots were in the education field. Prior to her library work, she taught history for North Branch school district. She actually fell into the job by way of substituting for sick co-workers.

Kelli enjoys working with people; however, now that she is library director and is a bit more removed from the public-end of service delivery, she finds herself missing that aspect of her old job. Challenges that she faces: space (at times), clearing up misconceptions about why a library is needed in the community, as well as an upcoming millage renewal (2012).

Advice to those entering the profession: “Prepare to not sit behind a desk.” Rather than calling the tech-guru, she wishes that she was more tech savvy.

Intellectual Freedom
Last year, when I was required to visit several libraries for LIS 6010 with Dr. Maria Gonzalez, I began asking librarians how the Harry Potter series was received in the community. The series has experienced controversy over the years and has landed itself on the frequently challenged materials list compiled by the American Library Association.

According to Kelli, “We have not had any problems.” She went on to say that the school district actually owns multiple copies of the books in the series!

Notes and Observations

  • I found lots of signage throughout the library directing patrons to various parts of the collection. I especially loved how the non-fiction section was labeled. (Check out the slideshow below).
  • Kelli reported excellent collaboration with the area school. “We field lots of calls!”
  • Unlike many of the libraries in the Thumb area, North Branch Township Library belongs to the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative. (The majority of the libraries visited thus far have belonged to White Pine Library Cooperative.)
  • Each year for the holidays, North Branch Township Library holds workshops for gingerbread house building as well as for Easter egg coloring. For the gingerbread house project, all of the supplies are provided by the library. When Easter rolls around, just bring your own hard-boiled eggs.