Image by Andy Thompson

On Thursday, December 15, in the middle of working on a final exam for LIS 6510, I took a break to meet with Glenna Ford, director of the Opperman Memorial Library in Kingston, Michigan.

Out of the libraries selected for this project, Opperman Memorial Library and Reader’s Cove are the most unique. Why? Reader’s Cove is a private library and Opperman is a cross between a district library and school media center. In other words, it serves both the general public as well as the students and teachers within the school district.

How did I know about Opperman Memorial Library? I first heard about it this past summer when I took collection development (LIS 7340) with Dr. Robert Holley. The class was broken into small groups based upon our library interests with each group required to select or create a library to serve as a model of sorts and one of the groups in my class chose the Opperman Library in Kingston…

Opperman Memorial Library is located off of M-46 in the front part of Kingston High School. From my home library (Sandusky District Library), OML is 18 miles, or about 20 minutes, away. In terms of Purdy-Kresge Library, home of the School of Library and Information Science, OML is about 90 miles, or 2 hours, away from the downtown Detroit campus.

From the library’s website:

It was 1970 that the Kingston Community Library merged with the school library. Jacquelin E. Opperman was the first librarian. It was years later after her death (April 18th, 1980) that her successor Aneita Denhoff had the library renamed Jacquelin E. Opperman Memorial Library. A picture of her hangs in the library along with a biographical sketch and a story about the mark she made on the community. During holidays her ceramics that she made are showcased.

Notes from my visit:
Jacquelin studied at Central Michigan University — majored in English and minored in Library Science. She graduated in 1958. The new principal at the Kingston school viewed libraries and librarians as useless. If she wanted a library, then she had two months to get it up and running — which she did.

Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
Opperman Memorial Library serves the Village of Kingston plus four townships: Dayton, Kingston, Koylton, and Wells. To date, the library serves a population of 4,080 — which is up in comparison to years previous.

Currently, the library is designated as a Class 1 agency, but based on the recent population numbers, there is a possibility that the Library of Michigan might raise OML to a Class 2.
According to the Library of Michigan, a Class 1 library – serves a population of 3,999 or less and needs to:

  • Be open a minimum of 15 hours per week.
  • Employ (at least 15 hours per week) a director with at least a Level 4 certificate.

Other relevant facts and figures:

  • OML currently has a collection development budget of $8,000.
  • The library is open 46 hours and employs two staff members.
  • Part of the school’s operating budget covers the library. Think: utilities, copier costs, and cleaning…
  • 35,963: number of items in the library’s collection.
  • Circulation data: 2011 = 13,020 (as of 12/15); 2010 = 12,122; 2009 = 15,974; 2008 = 17,791

About the Director
Glenna Ford first came to Opperman Memorial Library 9 years ago when a staff position opened which would allow her to work where her children went to school. Just two years after joining the Opperman staff, she became library director.

Her favorite part of the job: “Working with the patrons.”

Advice to those entering the profession: “Get to know the public. Each individual person is different. You get know what they want and expect out of you and the library. It takes time.”

On the late Jim Rancilio: “He was a mentor — my go-to person. I miss him.”

Notes and Observations

  • Prior to visiting the library, one of my friends inquired about library security — since the agency is housed within a school building. In interviewing Ms. Ford, I learned that security really isn’t an issue. The library is small enough that it is easy to keep track of patrons and Kingston being a small, close-knit community certainly helps. 
  • The library can be used by the public during school hours. 
  • A bonus to students: if they can’t find what they need in the juvenile non-fiction section for a class project, the adult non-fiction collection is just a few feet away. 
  • During the nine years in which Glenna has been with Opperman, she has not experienced a challenge to library materials.
  • The library has two special collections – 5 books written by a local author (see slideshow) and the Kingston Enterprise, the local newspaper which is no longer in print, on microfilm.
  • Because she would be working for the school, Glenna was subjected to many of the same background check procedures as a teacher.
  • A separate room, accessible to library staff,  houses the teachers’ collection. 
  • The children’s collection is housed in a room located off of the main library area.
  • Remember Channel One? The digital broadcast equipment is located in the library.
  • Opperman has an amnesty week for overdue books during Library Week in April.
  • The library is a popular lunchtime hang out for students. Thankfully, I took most of my photos beforehand! 
  • I love how Glenna alternated spine label colors for the picture book collection. Example: All of the As are one color and all of the Bs are a different color! It makes for easy browsing and shelving.