Image by Andy Thompson

I think I’m almost over the upper respiratory-ick that has been going around — which has set me slightly behind in school and, of course, blogging!

On Friday, January 20, I returned to part of my old stomping grounds, Leonard (Michigan), in order to tour Addison Township Public Library‘s new location and meet library director, Jaema Berman.

Addison Township Public Library is located in rural Leonard, Michigan which is nestled in northern Oakland County — just east of Oxford, my hometown.

ATPL is about 60 miles (1.5 hours) southwest of my “home” library, Sandusky District Library. As I’ve done for the other 30Y.30L posts, ATPL is a mere 36 miles north of Purdy-Kresge Library, home of the School of Library and Information Science, on Wayne State University‘s downtown Detroit campus.

In 2010, the library began publicly pondering the notion of relocating to a larger building as they were housing the collection in an old kindergarten classroom which only afforded about 1,300-square-feet. A nearby strip mall, which could be renovated, would nearly triple the library’s square footage and increase visibility as its located alongside Rochester Road.

About the move, board member Sue Hatfield said, “It’d mean everything — it’d mean we could put books back on the shelves, because right now we have stacks of books sitting on the floor. The visibility would be really important. Unfortunately, it’s going to cost more.” (In actuality, the cost difference wouldn’t be all that much as the library was already paying $850 a month — $150 more for an additional 1,700-square-feet is a bargain plus increased visibility!)

ATPL’s new location!

On July 5 – 8, 2011, the library’s calendar featured the following:

New Library Demolition and Clean Up
The Addison Twp. Library Board is working to get the New Library demolition and clean up complete. So, next week, Tuesday, July 5th through Friday, July 8th, we will be working every evening from 5p.m. until dusk. “Many hands make light work”, Come on out and give us a hand! Bring gloves for sure and safety glasses too.

About the demo-days, Jaema said, “the whole community came out to help tear out the walls of the old suites.” 

On October 1, 2011, Addison Township Public Library temporarily closed their doors while moving to their new location. A grand opening was held just two weeks later on October 15, 2011.

Service Area, Size, and Operating Budget
In addition to its namesake, Addison Township Public Library serves the Village of Leonard, Lakeville, and portions of Oxford. The population of the library’s service area is around 6,400 giving the agency 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.

Other relevant facts and figures:

  • The library serves out-of-area patrons;
  • $210,00 = operating budget;
  • 30,000: number of items in the library’s collection;
  • 6 staff: 1 full-time (director), 5 part-time;
  • The library is open 50 hours a week

About the Director
While a student at Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science, Jaema worked in the ILL Office at Purdy-Kresge Library. She graduated in 1992 and has been immersed in the LIS-field ever since — working for Gale Cengage Learning, Independence Township Library, Oxford Public Library, and Waterford Township Public Library.

In addition to her position of Library Director at Addison Township Public Library, Jaema actively teaches in Oakland Community College’s library technician program where she also the program coordinator.

Jaema kicked off a book club which meets the first Thursday of every month. About the club’s book selection, “I’m going rogue.” Instead, the selection will be based on a genre of theme.

Professional Goal: to connect with young male readers.

Favorite part of Dewey: the 800s and 900s. 

Favorite part of her job:
Jaema said, “There are too many exciting parts!” She loves talking about books and sharing reading with others as well as meeting the members of the community.

Advice to those entering the profession:
“Network, network, network! Consider taking any job in the field and volunteer.”

Intellectual Freedom
In spring/summer 2010 term, when I was required to visit several libraries for LIS 6010 with Dr. Maria Gonzalez, I began asking librarians how the Harry Potter series was received in the community. The series has experienced controversy over the years and has landed itself on the frequently challenged materials list compiled by the American Library Association. In Leonard, I am pleased to report that the series was received very well.

On the topic of censorship, Jaema said, “Librarians need to do their work, know the literature, and be aware of it.”

Notes and Observations

  • Fact: Jaema is member of the Science Fiction Research Association.
  • Much of the library’s furniture and shelving is actually from other libraries. For example, the chairs in which Jaema and I used for the interview were originally from Jackson District Library. Other items: the circulation desk was from Independence Township Library, the adult stacks were from Ferndale Public Library, and the brown leather chairs and side tables were purchased from a close-out sale at Borders. Jaema was also able to purchase two signs, “Reference” and “Information”, from Borders. 
  • I unofficially declare Addison Township Public Library and Reese Unity District Library as sister libraries. Why? Both agencies have successfully renovated spaces in strip malls to better serve their communities.
  • Fact: Jaema was a music major and even took lessons in Carnegie Hall. She was also a member of the New York City Street Musicians Program. How cool is that?!
  • The shelves in the children’s collection were actually cut down to a more appropriate size which also allowed for more light to filter into the stacks.
  • Inspired by Kansas City Public Library, local artist and library board member Kara King created the “big book” theme that adorns the exterior of Addison Township Public Library. King also gave the library’s old periodical rack a face-lift by offering a few coats of spray-paint which gave it a refreshed look.
  • Like Orion and Brandon Township Libraries, ATPL offers coffee and hot chocolate to its patrons. In fact, the Keurig coffee “station” pays for itself because patrons love it. (What a great idea!)
  • The community’s perception of the library is more than just books…a meeting place. 
  • ATPL has a blog and encourages patrons to share their book reviews.
  • During her tenure as a student in the LIS-program, Dr. Joseph Mika was Jaema’s advisor. (Mika was my adviser, as well, until he retired in fall of 2011.)
  • The library’s website was created using Plinkit. Plinkit was made possible via a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and is “administered” by the Library of Michigan. Jaema on Plinkit, “I love it. It’s user-friendly and adaptable.”
  • ATPL had such an outpouring of help for the demolition and subsequent move, the library held a reception for the volunteers the night before the official grand opening.