On Tuesday, December 6, I headed north to the Deckerville Public Library to meet with Director Amanda Morningstar.

Location
DPL is located in the northern part of Sanilac County which borders Huron County. From Sandusky District Library, located in the county seat of Sandusky, Deckerville Public Library is just 12 miles northeast in, you guessed it, the Village of Deckerville

For those not familiar with the Thumb area, Deckerville Public Library is about 100 miles (2.25 hours) northeast of Purdy-Kresge Library, home of the School of Library and Information Science, on Wayne State University’s downtown Detroit campus.

History

On the outside of the building, a plaque reads:

The original wing of this structure dates to 1882 and was initially consecrated as St. James Episcopal Church, which had been established the previous year. In 1883, it became St. Mary’s Mission. Rev. John Barrett was the first minister, followed by Rev. George Vernor (1892) and Rev. William Cash (1895). The building is of prefabricated construction; components were delivered by ship and transported here on wagons. In 1923, the local woman’s club decided to establish a library and in 1924 a corporation was formed for this purpose. There was $326.31 in its treasury. St. Mary’s Mission disbanded in 1925 and that same year the church building and lot were sold to the library for $250.00. The Hypatian Club joined in establishing the library and by year’s end 300 books were on hand. In 1946, the library became village property and the earlier corporation was dissolved. Building modernization commenced in 1966 and an architecturally compatible 1980 addition tripled its size. 

(Note: A photo of the plaque is available via the slideshow.)

Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
Despite the library’s name, it is actually classified as a district library with the service area being the Deckerville school district. Population in the district’s legal service area is about 4,500.

Based on the population in the library’s district, the agency is designated as a Class 2. According to the Library of Michigan a Class 2 library:

  • Serves a population of 4,000 to 6,999;
  • Be open a minimum of 20 hours per week;
  • Employ (at least 20 hours per week) a director with at least a Level 4 certificate.

Deckerville Public Library has a staff of 3 and operates with a budget of $64,000.  The library has about 16,000 items in its collection and circulates around 14,000 materials per year.

About the Director
What interested Amanda in the field of library and information science was the combination between her love of organization and her mother working in the field for a number of years as a librarian for Sandusky District Library. To date, Amanda has been in the LIS field for 11 years — she’s worked for the Dean of Libraries Office at Central Michigan, Sandusky District Library, and of course, Deckerville Public Library.

Her favorite part of the job: collection development. Advice to those entering the profession: “Be careful of what you wish for. If you wish for more people in the library, volume will go up. There will be more unpleasant people, but you’ll get a lot more nice people, too.” Advice that her mother offered to her: “Kill ’em with kindness.”

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.

The reception of the beloved series in Deckerville: “Fine! Kids and adults love it.”  In fact, Morningstar has not experienced a challenge to an item since her tenure at DPL began.

Notes and Observations

  • DPL like Sandusky District Library, is big on spine labels — which can make browsing easier on the patron. A few examples include: Biography, Christian Fiction, Classics, Michigan, Mystery and Young Adult. 
  • As mentioned above, part of the library is housed in an old church. The building still features the uniquely shaped windows and you can hear the wood floor creak underneath the carpeting. Loved it!
  • Interesting reference question: how do you spell OB/GYN?
  • The library has a genealogy collection.
  • Christian Fiction is the most popular part of the adult collection for patrons.
  • From the library’s policies, “Borrowers living outside of the Deckerville School District may use all library services without a special charge. However, they are limited to borrowing only two items the first time.”

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615