Image by Andy Thompson

On Tuesday, January 10, I headed west to Caro in order to meet with Marcia Dievendorf, director of Caro Area District Library.

The City of Caro is located in the heart of Tuscola County which is situated in the Thumb area of Michigan. From my home library, Sandusky District Library, CADL is about 35 miles or 45 minutes away — to the west. For those not familiar with the area, Caro Area District Library is 91 miles (2 hours) northwest of Purdy-Kresge Library, home of the School of Library and Information Science, on Wayne State University‘s downtown Detroit campus. 

From the library’s website:

The Caro Area District Library (formerly Indianfields Public Library) had its predecessor in a “ladies” library society, in the 1880s. The present library had its beginning in 1914 and an official building in 1915. For much of its history the Library was housed in the Schall Elementary School until in the mid-1970s, the Indianfields Library Board decided to build a separate building, which was finished in 1978.

Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
In addition to the City of Caro, CADL serves the following townships: Almer, Ellington, Indianfields, Juniata, and Wells. Dievendorf noted that Almer, Ellington, Juniata, and Wells Townships are shared with other libraries. It should be noted that neighboring libraries visited for the project area: Bullard Sanford Memorial Library (Vassar), Fairgrove District Library, Opperman Memorial Library (Kingston), Rawson Memorial District Library (Cass City), and Reese Unity District Library.

CADL’s service area has a population of about 11,836 which gives the library a Class 3 designation. According to the Library of Michigan, a Class 3 library serves a population of 7,000 to 11,999 and needs to:

  • Be open a minimum of 30 hours per week.
  • Employ (at least 30 hours per week) a director with at least a Level 3 certificate.

Relevant facts and figures:

  • 85,000: number of items in the library’s collection
  • 92,000: annual circulation
  • Operating budget: about $500,000
  • Staff: 15 — 8 of which are full-time
  • Hours open to the public: 63 
Melissa Armstrong (2010 SLIS graduate) and
Marcia Dievendorf

About the Director 
Marcia Dievendorf has always been a library person — it started for her when she was 3-4 years old. She’s been in the LIS field for 43 years with 22 years logged at Caro Area District Library. Dievendorf graduated in 1978 from Kent State University with her MLIS degree. Over the years she has worked at Clearwater Public Library, Kent State University Library, Cleveland Public Library, Mansfield Public Library, and Stark County Public Library —  not to mentionthe State University System Extension Library in St. Petersburg, Florida. “We served off-campus students affiliated with all of the state universities in Florida. It fell to the budgetary axe in the early 90s after 73 years.”

About the LIS field, Marcia said, “Access to information and knowledge — that’s the driving force. Libraries are an important part of our democracy. You can educate yourself for free.”

Favorite part the job: “What gives me the greatest pleasure is having positive interactions with patrons. Unfortunately when in management, I miss out on the interaction.” In addition to her director duties, Marcia does all of the cataloging for the adult collection.

Traits and characteristics Marcia looks for when hiring librarians: “Enthusiasm and smarts…a sense of the future. Open-minded. Positive! There can be a lot of negative people in the profession.”

Notes and Observations

  • The library has a number of taxidermy displays which were donated. (All of the birds on display were killed in accidents.)
  • Ayn Rand is quite popular at CADL. “We can’t keep books on the shelf,” reported Marcia.
  • Like so many of the libraries in the area, CADL has a Christian Fiction collection; however, it is labeled and inner-shelved with the rest of the adult fiction materials.
  • Marcia worked in the cataloging department for Kent State University’s library.
  • When Marcia worked in Cleveland she did outreach services to shut-ins, hospitals, and nursing homes.
  • Favorite review sources: Booklist, Library Journal, and recently Kirkus.
  • Special collections: graphic novels, genealogy/local history, and several books by local authors.
  • In 2007, CADL had a major renovation.
  • The children’s department is housed in the library’s basement. 
  • A monitor/security guard is employed by the library for after-school hours.