Image by Andy Thompson

On Wednesday, January 11, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mimi Herrington, director of Bad Axe Area District Library.

Like Nartker (director of SDL), Herrington has consistently been a go-to person for asking questions pertaining to the LIS-field. For example, just last summer Herrington provided me with the BAADL’s collection development policy which put LIS 7340 (taught by Dr. Holley) into rural library terms for me.

My connection to BAADL: When I was working in Huron County as Shelter Operations Manager / Legal Advocate (and interim Executive Director, for a spell), I was putting in incredibly long hours. The distance between my home and work was 40 miles. By the time I was back in Sandusky, the local library would often be closed; therefore, I opted to procure borrowing privileges from BAADL which was based on an annual fee. The fee of $40.00 was well worth it to me as I would no longer feel guilty about using the library’s services for free. Thus BAADL became my library away from home, allowing me a quiet place to work on homework and projects before heading home to unwind. Since leaving my post in order to focus on graduate school, I still frequent BAADL as a place to study and use the library’s collection for projects (e.g. LIS 6510 with Suzanne Todd).

Location
As the library’s name hints, BAADL is located in the City of Bad Axe, Michigan which is the county seat of Huron County. For those not familiar with the area, Huron County is located at the tip of the Thumb — a peninsula of a peninsula. From my home library (Sandusky District Library), BAADL is 35 miles northwest or about 45 minutes. From Purdy-Kresge Library, home of the School of Library and Information Science, BAADL is 112 miles north or about 2.5 hours.

The library is located just off of Huron Avenue — next to the court house, City Hall, and Bad Axe Police Department.

Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
Bad Axe Area District Library serves the Bad Axe school district which is compromised of the following townships: Bingham (portions), Colfax, Grant, Lincoln, Meade, Verona, and Sheridan. The population for the area is between 6,400 – 6,600 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.

Facts and Relevant Figures:

  • Operating budget: $248,000
  • BAADL has a staff of 7 — one of which is full-time (the director)
  •  36,000: number of items in the collection
  • 73,000: annual circulation which is up from last year
  • 56: number of hours open to the public each week

About the Director
When Mimi was home visiting the area from Chicago, she saw an ad in the paper for an opening with Bad Axe Area District Library. Longtime director, Marilyn Berry, was retiring. “It planted a seed in my head,” said Herrington. “It’s such a great job: being up late grading papers versus being the director of a beautiful library.” Mimi has been director since September 2003.

Like many librarians, Herrington was in the education field for several years before entering the LIS field. (Even before her years as a teacher, Mimi practiced law!)

Favorite parts of the job: “Successful children’s programming…seeing the excitement…a really good book club — everyone has read the book…watching them get into the book and characters. Watching children read and learn.”

Favorite review sources: Publishers Weekly and Booklist.  (Note: Mimi got me addicted to PW. I get so excited reading about trends and upcoming books!)

Advice to those entering the profession: “I’m very glad I had my legal and education background. It’s been so helpful to me. I feel really comfortable. Take an array of classes…stay well-rounded. You see all aspects of society.”

Notes and Observations

  • Elimination of the personal property tax will cut about $100,000 in revenue to 6 Huron County libraries. Putting it into local terms, its the equivalent to a 10% cut or eliminating 1 service day.
  • During Mimi’s first month on the job, an issue with the library’s insurance popped up. Thanks to her background in law, she was able to quickly and comfortably draft a memo to an attorney to have the issue resolved.
  • The library participates in the New Parent project (Huron Medical Center) by supplying the kit with information about the library and its services to babies and families. 
  • A rarity worth noting, Bad Axe Area District Library has had excellent collaboration with the schools in the area! Every fall students visit and are provided with a library orientation. Mimi has given presentations to teachers about Michigan e-Library and the many resources available to them as well as administered surveys to students about their various library needs and interests.
  • BAADL has a janitor that works 6 days a week for about 2 hours a day at keeping the library looking pristine and beautiful for everyone to enjoy.
  • Youth and young adult non-fiction items are shelved with the adult non-fiction collection. Orange dots on the spine labels help patrons identify youth materials.
  • Interesting reference questions:
    (1) When MeLcat was likely new on the scene, the library received a phone call from an out-of-area woman looking for a specific dessert recipe. BAADL had the cookbook, copied, and faxed the recipe to the woman’s home library.
    (2) An author writing a book was researching bank robberies committed in the 1960s — specifically looking for information about a blown safe.
    (3) Research was conducted by several local authors including Jacki Howard, author of The Thumb Pointed Fingers, and Richard W. Carson, author of Murder in the Thumb.
    (4) Locating a wedding announcement from 1963 for a 50th wedding anniversary party. 
  • Special collections: Tumblebooks, cemetery records, local history, Bad Axe Historical Society books and records, BAHS yearbooks, microfilm collection, Golden Jubilee, and the Wall of Flame
  • My favorite quote from interviewing Mimi: [About her library job] “I never get that pit in my stomach on Sunday nights.”