Image by Andy Thompson

On Monday, December 12, I took a road trip south to my hometown of Oxford, Michigan and met with Director Bryan Cloutier.

Why did I select Oxford Public Library as part of the 30Y.30L Campaign? Easy. OPL is the library that started it all for me. Growing up in the Village of Oxford, I used to pull my Radio Flyer wagon to the old library located on West Burdick Street. I would load up my wagon with all sorts of treasures and stay up much past my bedtime reading books by way of the light mounted on the headboard of my bed. 

OPL was my very first LIS job which consisted of shelving books in the children’s department and the YA alcove. I’d also check-in books deposited in the return bins. From time to time, I would shelf the adult collection when my fellow classmate Ainoa needed time off.

In reflection, I can say that working at OPL was my favorite job. Not only did I enjoy scoping out which books were circulating (which gave me lots of ideas of what to read…and not to read), but I also got a kick out of cleaning soiled books and shelf reading. It doesn’t get much better than working in the stacks and creating order amidst the chaos we sometimes call life.

Yes, it is certainly safe say that I’ve always been a bibliophile…

Also of note: The head of teen services at OPL, Charli Osborne, inspired me to pursue a MLIS from Wayne State University.

Oxford Public Library is located in, you guessed it, Oxford, Michigan which is a suburb in Northern Oakland County — just north of Lake Orion.

From my home library (Sandusky District Library), OPL is almost exactly 70 miles, or 1.5 hours, southwest. For those not familiar with the area, Oxford Public Library is 40 miles, or roughly 48 minutes, from Purdy-Kresge Library, home of the School of Library and Information Science, on Wayne State University’s downtown Detroit campus. 

Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
OPL serves the Village of Oxford as well as those residing in Oxford Township. The legal service area is comprised of 20,526 citizens giving the library a Class 4 designation.

According to the Library of Michigan, a Class 4 library – serves a population of 12,000 to 25,999 and needs to:

  • Be open a minimum of 40 hours per week.
  • Employ (at least 35 hours per week) a director with at least a level 2 certificate.

In the Michigan LIS world, a level 2 certificate requires: “A master’s degree or its equivalent from a library school accredited by the American Library Association.” Of the 26 staff employed at OPL, 12 have MLIS degrees!

Other facts and figures:

  • Operating Budget: $1.1 million
  • 88,000: number of items in the library’s collection
  • Annual circulation is approaching 227,000
  • 3,091: public service hours

About the Director
Bryan J. Cloutier, director of Oxford Public Library, obtained his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in 2003. He has been in the LIS field since 1994 and in his current position since 2007.

Bryan’s Book Picks

Administration philosophy: “Treat the library as a business.” As a result of Bryan’s philosophy, OPL is one of the few libraries in the area that will be able to remain open on Sundays. (Well done, Bryan!)

Favorite part of the job: “Seeing and hearing patron stories of very satisfactory experiences.” Least favorite part of the job: “[The LIS field] is not what it used to be…not what I dreamed of when working on my degree due to the economic climate. It is disheartening in many ways: libraries are closing, people are being laid-off, and hours cut — it’s not what libraries are supposed to be about. It’s not fun anymore.”

Advice to those entering the profession: “If you’re entering the profession for money, don’t do it.” Bryan described the line of work as rewarding by giving back to the community with the auxiliary rewards to be more fulfilling than the pay.

Notes and Observations

Shae Smith and Charli Osborne
  • OPL has an aquarium in the library’s lobby that features a large fish by the name of Winston.
  • Brandon Township Library and OPL used the same architect for their new libraries.
  • For my fellow classmates who are pursuing the graduate certificate, services to children and young adults: Charli Osborne, Head of Teen Services, and Shae Smith, Head of Youth Services, are both graduates of Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science.
  • Professor Emeritus Joseph Mika, WSU’s School of Library and Information Science and co-owner of Hartzell-Mika Consulting, collaborated with OPL staff to develop the 2011-2015 strategic plan. 
  • The library features a large fireplace located in the adult area that has ample space around it — perfect for reading on cold winter days. 
  • Like Brandon Township Library, OPL has several bump-outs that serve as quiet study areas.
  • OPL has both a central courtyard and an outdoor children’s area.
  • The teen room is one of the few libraries in the state of Michigan to have a dedicated teen service desk. 
  • I had difficulty taking pictures in the adult collection due to the lighting. While the light source it is perfectly comfortable for reading and conducting research, I ended up needing to enhance every photo taken in that area for the purposes of the slideshow.
  • Director Bryan Cloutier keeps a blog: Oxford Public Library.
  • The endcaps of the juvenile non-fiction feature the subjects rather than just the Dewey numbers. Also, the juvenile biography collection is easy to locate.
  • Cooperative: The Library Network (TLN).