On Wednesday, January 4, a beautiful sunny day, I cruised over to Fairgrove in order to meet with Larry Haubenstricker, Director of Fairgrove District Library.
From my home library, Sandusky District Library, Fairgrove District Library is about 40 miles northwest or roughly an hour drive. In terms of the School of Library and Information Science, housed in the Purdy-Kresge Library on Wayne State University’s downtown Detroit campus, FDL is anywhere from about 100-115 miles (2.25 hours), depending upon the chosen route.
Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
Fairgrove District Library serves its namesake, the Village of Fairgrove, portions of the Village of Akron as well as several townships including: Almer, Columbia, Gilford, and Wisner. Currently, the district has a population of 4,537 giving the library a Class 2 designation.
According to the Library of Michigan, a Class 2 library serves a population of 4,000 to 6,999 and needs to:
- 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.
The library has 18,280 items in its collection with an annual circulation of 26,400. Eight staff are employed by FDL, two of which are full-time. Fairgrove District Library operates by way of a $134,400 budget.
About the Director
Habenstricker joined the LIS profession 16 years ago when he took on the position as Library Director. His degree and background in business has been beneficial to him throughout his tenure.
Favorite part of the job: “Ordering books.” (Note: when I arrived for my visit, Larry was working his way through an Ingram Book Company catalog.) Least favorite part of the job: “#1: the State Aid reports and #2: fundraising.”
Challenges Larry has faced over the years: “Two millages, going from a public to a district library [in 2000], dealing with lawyers and other governmental entities.”
Advice to those entering the profession: “A library director wears a lot of hats…especially for a smaller library. I used to mow the lawn and shovel the sidewalks…Always, always be about 10 steps ahead. Look to the future and every possible thing that could happen. Keep your nose out of the politics of the government.”
Notes and Observations
- FDL’s millage is in perpetuity.
- The library is in the process of re-designing its website.
- Like me, Habenstricker is interested in World War II and the Holocaust.
- One of the public computers has a screen magnifier which helps facilitate access for patrons with low vision.
- The library has an inspirational fiction collection which is shelved separately.
- For space reasons, Habenstricker will occasionally stack books in between those shelved traditionally. (See the slideshow for an example)
- FDL has a large collection of science fair books.
- The library recently invested in a cash register which has made financial transactions easier to track for auditing purposes.
- Bev, who is second in command, said, “Our boss has worked very hard to get the library in shape!”
- Patrons cannot check-out additional materials until fines are paid up. The names of patrons with grossly late materials are referred to the police.
- The library automated in 2000 — the same year in which the library went district.
- In 2006, the library was remodeled and had a custom-built circulation-reference desk.
- Based on circulation data and for fiscal responsibility reasons, Habenstricker chose to eliminate the periodical and audiobook collections.
- The children’s picture books are shelved by subject.
- The Fairgrove Township Hall is housed on the opposite-side of the building.
Photos from my visit…
30 Years and 30 Libraries: Fairgrove District Library, a set on Flickr.