Image by Andy Thompson

My 30th visit! It was quite bittersweet…

On Saturday, January 28, after a beautiful snow fall, I headed to Cedarville, Michigan in order to tour Les Cheneaux Community Library — a branch of Bayliss Public Library.

Rationale for selection: I had originally planned on just touring Drummond Island Library and selecting a rural library on the westside of the State (Idlewild Public Library). Touring this library came by recommendation of Library Director Ken Miller, who works out of Bayliss Public Library in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. Ken mentioned that I would be driving right through Cedarville on my way to Drummond Island Library. Being curious, I did a Google search for LCCL and was completely taken by both its uniqueness and beauty. 


Click image to enlarge…

Cedarville, Michigan is located in Michigan’s upper peninsula just east of Saint Ignace which is where I stayed during my visit. In fact, it was just a 30 minute drive from my hotel to the library. And it was a beautiful drive…

From my “home” library of Sandusky District Library, Les Cheneaux Community Library is 280 miles or about 5 hours away. As I’ve done for the twenty-nine other 30Y.30L posts, LCCL is 325 miles or about 5.25 hours from Purdy-Kresge Library, home of the School of Library and Information Science, on Wayne State University‘s downtown Detroit campus.

About the Branch
In an interview with Ken Miller, he stated that Bayliss Public Library has a contract with Mackinac County to provide services for the Cedarville area by way of Les Cheneaux Community Library. About the building, Miller said, “We have an agreement with the Friends of Les Cheneaux Community Library for use of the building, which they own. I believe that this is a unique situation in the State. I don’t think that any other friends group owns the building that the library occupies.”

More about the building and library from the Les Cheneaux Island Tourist Association‘s website:

“The Les Cheneaux Library was built in 2003 through the work of a committed group of volunteers and the generosity of many in our region. The beautiful new library is a true reflection of the unique character of the Les Cheneaux area.

The log cabin structure features a quiet reading room with a fireplace, computer lab, wireless internet, wrap-around porch, comfortable furnishings, murals and stained glass by local artisans, and a meeting room with large screen for media presentations.

The Library has recently won grants from Michigan Council for Arts, Libri Foundation, and Noyes Foundation enabling the building of our reference and children’s sections and a summer film festival.

Donations comprise a large portion of our budget and significantly contribute to our ability to provide timely materials and quality programming. LCCL maintains a list of items that are needed to continue to meet the needs of our community. The generosity of our patrons is greatly appreciated.”

Les Cheneaux Community Library serves primarily Clark and Marquette Townships. According to 2010 Census data, Clark Township has a population of 2,056 with Marquette Township’s population cited at 603. In comparing the data to that from the 2000 Census, Clark Township experienced a -6.5% change and a -8.49% change for Marquette Township.

Based on population, if Les Cheneaux Community Library were independent and not a branch library, it would certainly be designated as a Class 1 library. According to the Library of Michigan, a Class 1 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. 

The library has 1 part-time branch manager, 1 part-time assistant, 2 substitutes, has a collection size of 13,991 materials, and operates with a budget of $48,180. It is affiliated with the Superiorland Library Cooperative.

About the Director
Ken Miller has been in the LIS field for 40 years. While a student of the School of Library and Information Science (Wayne State University), Miller was working for the Detroit Public Library. When he graduated in 1976, with his MLIS, Miller segued into the role of librarian and began providing services to shut-ins and retirees via the Chaney Branch. He continued his work with DPL, holding various titles and positions, until 1999 when he took a position with Jackson District Library and later began interim director of the agency. 

Other positions Miller has held: Deputy Director of Matrix Theatre Company and Director of the Hiawathaland Library Cooperative.

He’s been director of Bayliss Public Library since 2004.

Miller’s professional interest: “…is and always was bringing library service to the disadvantaged—whatever the situation (i.e. urban or rural).” 
Favorite memory or career anecdote: “Two things: First, bringing the Bowen Branch library in Detroit back to life with community programming (the same was done here at Bayliss) and just recently we ‘discovered’ an original early 19th century chart of Lake Superior in our archive. It may be one of the ‘working chart’ that Lt. Bayfield’s team used to create the printed ones for the British Admiralty. We raised funds for conservation, which has just been completed by the Bentley. We will have it digitized (photographed) and have a ‘welcome home’ reception soon.”
Favorite part of the library’s collection: “Our archive.” (Bayliss Public Library)
Challenges: “Creating a district library from our city library and contract service areas.”
Advice to those entering the profession: “Embrace change.”

Notes and Observations

  • Since my visit was on a Saturday morning, the library was holding story and craft hour in the children’s area. I must say that it was well-attended and I got a charge out of browsing the stacks while listening to a few stories. 
  • In collaboration with a technical school, LCCL offers a 2-year boat building school. How unique is that?! 
  • LCCL offers flash drives, CDs, and ear-buds for sale to its patrons. (Brilliant idea.) 
  • While photographing the library, I got talking to a patron who just happened to be from Tuscola County (my neighboring county) and a regular patron of Caro Area District Library. He was in town visiting his grandchildren and just happened to take them to story hour at the library. Small world! 
  • Friends of LCCL has their own office space in the building. 
  • The library has a Louis L’amour collection of books in hardcover.
  • Les Cheneaux Community Library is a geocache site. What’s a geocache? According to website, “Geocaching is a treasure hunting game where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers with other participants in the activity.” I’ve included a photo of the “treasure” in the slideshow, but didn’t give away its location. (You’ll just have to visit the library and find it!)
  • The library has a photo album that tells its story from the foundation up!
  • Murals cover the walls in the children’s area. I attempted to take photos, but they do not even begin to do justice. 
  • The circulation-reference desk features a mural of the islands. 
  • Over the years, I have visited and toured a great deal of libraries. I must admit that never before have I experienced a library like Les Cheneaux Community Library. If you are ever in the Cedarville area, I highly recommend stopping by. Please take a moment to view the slideshow.
  • If I lived closer, I would certainly be applying for a job at this library after I finish library school!
Les Cheneaux Community Library

Road Trip!