LM Dispatch Newsletter: January, 2019

Library of Michigan logo

Library of Michigan Dispatch Newsletter  -  January, 2019

In this Issue:

New Year, New Ways to Engage With Your Community

classroom for adults

Randy Riley, State Librarian, Library of Michigan (LM)

With the new year comes the opportunity to look at our personal and professional lives and asses how we are doing. We are surrounded by advice and tips on how to lose weight, get organized or how to become the best “you” possible. Each January presents us with an opportunity to make positive changes, try new things and hit the restart button looking at the future. The new year is a great time to look at what your library is doing and consider how it can be strengthened.

Through programs like the Harwood Institute the LM is committed to helping create more community centered libraries and librarians across the state. Consider these library resolutions focused on helping to make sure that your library remains an essential and irreplaceable community institution.

  1. Worry more about the needs of your community and less about trends.

It is important to be aware of current trends impacting libraries, but not every new trend is the best fit for your library or unique community. We should not feel compelled to chase every new trend discussed in library journals and at conferences. Every community will benefit from librarians who take the time to get to know their community and find creative ways to serve patrons.

  1. Get out into the community more in 2019.

Surveys are a great tool for gathering feedback, but they do not replace community conversations. Responses to surveys are often limited and questions do not allow patrons to provide broader answers to complicated questions. Combine surveys with an increased level of visibility in the community. Join organizations, serve on committees, host town meetings and talk to people wherever and whenever possible. Librarians embedded in their communities almost always have a better understanding of the needs of their patrons.

  1. Make programming a job requirement for all staff.

Community centered libraries offer opportunities for people to learn together. Making one person responsible for this duty will not work.

  1. Learn something new.

Learn something new that will help make your library a better place.

  1. Claim your seat at the table.

Advocate for your library at every opportunity. Request to be on the agenda of local meetings of the city council, chamber of commerce, etc. and strive to keep the community more aware of who you are and what you do. Make sure that you have something to say and be willing to say it.

  1. Send library “believers” out into community.

Librarians already love libraries. Create opportunities to send your supporters into the community to spread the “good word” about libraries. Their positive message often has a greater impact on community members and funders.

All the best in 2019.

LM Announces 2019 Michigan Notable Book Awards

Michigan Notable Books logo

Edwina Murphy, Michigan Collection Coordinator, LM

Hockey, music, and mermaids are some of the themes in the list of Michigan Notable Books (MNB) for 2019, released by the LM.

This year’s list of 20 titles are as diverse as the communities throughout the state.

Is your library interested in hosting a Notable Book author? Apply by January 31. The application process has been simplified with an online form.

The celebrated books encompass the entire Great Lakes basin from the 1970s Detroit music scene, to wild rice harvesting in Northern Michigan, to the history of Michigan’s own beloved soft drink, Faygo.

“This intriguing collection of books represents a spectrum of Michigan’s people, places and the history that makes our state unique,” Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles said about this year’s list. “I’m continuously impressed by the ever-increasing strength and popularity of the Library of Michigan’s Michigan Notable Book list. The abundance of quality writing generates more interest every year among bookstores, writers, libraries, and readers from all walks of life.

“The more we can instill a love of reading in our communities, the greater our efforts to become a Top 10 education state in 10 years,” Alles said.

Each year, the Michigan Notable Book (MNB) list features 20 books, published during the previous calendar year, which are about, or set in, Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or written by a Michigan author. Selections include a variety of genres, both fiction and nonfiction, that appeal to many audiences and explore topics and issues close to the hearts of Michigan residents.

Two past selections have found even greater notoriety after being named. The 2015 Michigan Notable Book, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, has been made into a Netflix original movie starring Sandra Bullock. The 2010 Michigan Notable Book, The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian, was made into a 2017 film, starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland.

MNB is a statewide program that began as part of the 1991 Michigan Week celebration, designed to pay tribute and draw attention to the many people, places, and things that make Michigan life unique and vibrant.

“The MNB selections clearly demonstrate the rich subject matter Michigan offers to writers,” said State Librarian Randy Riley. “Everyone will find something of interest that speaks to their lives or experiences in our great state.”

This year’s MNB selection committee includes representatives from the Library of Michigan; the Library of Michigan Foundation; Muskegon Area District Library; Capital Area District Library; Clinton-Macomb District Library; Cooley Law School; Lansing City Pulse newspaper; Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office; Wayne State University; Michigan Department of Education; Michigan Center for the Book; and the Michigan Humanities Council.

For more information or questions about the Michigan Notable Book program, contact the LM at 517-335-1454, visit www.Michigan.gov/NotableBooks, or email librarian@michigan.gov.

2019 Michigan Notable Books

Abbott by Saladin Ahmed - Boom Studios

While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncovers supernatural forces being controlled by a secret society of the city’s elite. The hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy. Saladin Ahmed presents one woman's search for the truth that destroyed her family amidst the systemic societal constructs that haunt our country to this day.


Across the Great Lake by Lee Zacharias - University of Wisconsin Press

85-year-old Fern Halvorsen reflects back upon her five-year-old self traveling with her father on a huge and powerful ship with a tall, handsome pilothouse and big smoking stacks. It’s 1936 and he captains a great coal-fired vessel, the Manitou, transporting railroad cars across Lake Michigan. The girl revels in the freedom of the ferry, making friends with a stowaway cat and a gentle young deckhand. The sighting of a ghost ship, though, presages danger for all aboard.


Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian - Akashic Books

Set in early 1970s Detroit, a divided city still reeling from its violent summer of 1967, Beautiful Music is the story of one young man’s transformation through music. Danny is a husky, pop radio–loving loner balancing a dysfunctional home life with the harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence. Beautiful Music is a funny and poignant story about the power of music and its ability to save one’s soul.


Betty Ford: First Lady, Women's Advocate, Survivor, Trailblaze by Lisa McCubbin - Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster, Inc

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer is the story of a lady thrust onto the world stage. Setting precedents, she refused to be silenced by her critics as she publicly championed equal rights for women and spoke out about issues that had previously been taboo—breast cancer, depression, abortion, and sexuality. Her decision to speak out publicly about her own struggle with addiction sparked a national dialogue and helped to revolutionize treatment and inspired the modern concept of recovery.


Building the Modern World: Albert Kahn in Detroit by Michael H. Hodges - Painted Turtle/Wayne State University Press

Building the Modern World: Albert Kahn in Detroit tells the story of the German-Jewish immigrant who rose from poverty to become one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. Kahn’s work ethic and approach to his craft spurred his influence on both industry and architecture. His willingness to design factories for the Soviets and munition facilities for the U.S government placed the Allied Powers on stronger footing at the outbreak of the Second World War. His proximity to epochal world events makes his life story a tableau of America’s rise to power. Albert Kahn’s designs are reflected in modern buildings today.


Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow - Harper/HarperCollins Publishers

A fresh take on the awkwardness of being a teenager, Drum Roll Please is a story about a girl who finds that music makes her a stronger person. Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. She finds that with playing music, she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Summer band camp brings on big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. While her rock-and-roll future is in question, she finds her path forward.


Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction by Anne-Marie Oomen, Editor - Wayne State University Press

Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction comes to us from 23 of Michigan’s most well-known essayists. The writings approach Michigan at the atomic level. This is a place where weather patterns and ecology matter. A celebration of the elements, this collection is both the storm and the shelter. Contributors include: Jerry Dennis, Jessica Mesman, Toi Dericotte, Mardi Jo Link, and Keith Taylor amongst many of Michigan’s finest writers.


Faygo Book by Joe Grimm - Painted Turtle/Wayne State University Press

Starting with little more than pots, pails, hoses, and a one-horse wagon, Ben and Perry Feigenson reformulated cake frosting recipes into carbonated beverage recipes and launched their business in the middle of the 1907 global financial meltdown. Out of more than 40 bottlers in Detroit’s "pop alley," Faygo remains the last one standing. The Faygo Book is the story of a pop, a people, and a place. The Faygo Book is the social history of a company that has forged a bond with a city and its residents for more than a century.


Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 & My Life of Impossibilities by Wayne Kramer - Da Capo Press

The MC5 reflected the late 60s and early 70s: exciting, sexy, violent, chaotic, and out of control. Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities, is a story of the personal struggle of an addict and an artist. From the glory days of Detroit to the junk-sick streets of the East Village, from Key West to Nashville and sunny L.A., in and out of prison and on and off drugs, his is the classic journeyman narrative, but with a twist: he’s here to remind us that revolution is always an option.


Lake Michigan Mermaid: A Tale in Poems by Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen - Wayne State University Press

Raised in a ramshackle cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan, a girl takes refuge in her beloved lake in the face of her disrupted homelife. One day she spots a creature in the water, something beautiful and inexplicable. Thus, begins a telepathic conversation between a lost young girl and the mermaid who saves her in more ways than one. Accompanied by powerful illustrations, The Lake Michigan Mermaid offers a tender tale of friendship, redemption, and the life-giving power of water.


Manoomin: The Story of Wild Rice in Michigan by Barbara J. Barton - Michigan State University Press

Manoomin: The Story of Wild Rice in Michigan focuses on the history, culture, biology, and economics surrounding the wild rice plant. The story travels through time from the days before European expansion and winds its way forward in and out of the logging and industrialization eras. It weaves between the worlds of the Anishinaabek and Euro-American immigrants. Barton discusses rice beds that once existed in Michigan, why many disappeared, and the efforts to restore and protect the plant.


Nature's Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story by Lindsey McDivitt - Sleeping Bear Press

Sara Gwendolen Frostic was born in Sandusky, Michigan in 1906. When she was eight months old, she suffered from an unknown illness that left her with lifelong symptoms similar to cerebral palsy. She went on to attend college, contribute to the war effort in Detroit, and started her own printmaking business. Nature's Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story tells the story behind Gwen's life and art. She dedicated her work and her life to reminding people of the wonder and beauty in nature.


Notes from a Public Typewriter by Michael Gustafson, Editor and Oliver Uberti, Designer - Grand Central Publishing

In the beginning, there were no editors, agents, or audiences. Book browsers were provided a blank page, an old-fashioned typewriter and the opportunity to express themselves. From such a streamlined foundation sprang the work Notes from A Public Typewriter. Editor and designer have combined their favorite left behind notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire.


The Page Fence Giants: A History of Black Baseball's Pioneering Champions by Mitch Lutzke - McFarland & Company, Inc

The Page Fence Giants were an all-star black baseball team based in Adrian, Michigan. From 1895-98, they played teams from local communities, along with games against minor and major league squads and other black baseball nines. In 1896, the Giants won the Black Baseball Championship series. Despite their winning ways, a championship, and a roster that includes one member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this is the first book written about this all-star team.


The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark - Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company

When the people of Flint, Michigan, turned on their faucets in April 2014, the water pouring out was poisoned with lead and other toxins. It took 18 months of activism by city residents and a band of dogged outsiders to force the state to admit that the water was poisonous. Anna Clark's The Poisoned City recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. It is a chronicle of one town but could also be about any American city.


The Russian Five: A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery and Courage, by Keith Gave - Gold Star Publishing

When the Detroit Red Wings were rebooting their franchise after more than two decades of relative futility, they knew the best place to find world-class players who could help turn things around were players from the Soviet Union. What ensued was a series of secret meetings to help enable the players to exit their homeland. This is their story from the day Detroit drafted its first two Soviets in 1989 until they raised the Stanley Cup in 1997, then took it to Moscow for a victory lap.


Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski - Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press

With 75 recipes the Sister Pie cookbook pays homage to Motor City ingenuity and all-American spirit. The granddaughter of two Detroit natives created a little corner pie shop in a former beauty salon on the city’s east side where no one leaves empty handed. Those who don’t have money in their pockets can simply cash in a prepaid slice from the “pie it forward” clothesline strung across the window. This unique and fruitful business model is detailed beside tasty recipes.


So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth's Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt - Roaring Brook Press

Originally from Ulster County, New York, Sojourner Truth was born into slavery and was sold several times during the course of her life. Yet she possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans.


The Truth Lies Here by Lindsey Klingele - HarperTeen/HarperCollins Publishers

An aspiring journalist, Penelope, teams up with the nerdy boy next door to find her conspiracy theorist father after he goes missing and several other townspeople turn up dead in the woods. Things get weird with townspeople repeating the same phrases verbatim and men in black suits strolling around the main street of a very small northern Michigan town. With help from her parents and friends, she learns that the truth is not always simple.


What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha - One World/Random House

“The eyes don’t see what the mind doesn’t know” is a quote from D. H. Lawrence that guided Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s medical training and inspired her medical practice in Flint. This is a book about how the right doctor was in place to discover the elevated lead levels in the children of Flint. The result is a story of how doctors, along with parents and community leaders, discovered the medical crisis in the city’s most vulnerable citizens. Flint was a city on the ropes that came together to fight for justice, self-determination, and the right to build a better world for its children.

Introducing the New MeL Engagement Specialists

Liz Breed, MeL Coordinator, LM


We are excited to officially introduce the Michigan library community to the new Michigan eLibrary (MeL) Engagement Specialists who started their positions with the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS) at the beginning of December.

These Engagement Specialist positions have been created to support you. Whether you need to connect a teacher in your school with quality content aligned to a lesson they’re teaching, or you want to provide your local community members with job resources, Theresa and Ann are here to support our library communities with

Please join us in welcoming Theresa and Ann!


Public Library Community

Theresa Runyan is the MeL Engagement Specialist for Public Libraries. Her position is to support the public library community in using Michigan eLibrary resources. Her most recent experience has been with the Jackson District Library, where she served as a Branch Manager, Circulation Coordinator and Customer Service Specialist.  She has a background in management, training, end-user trouble shooting, and marketing.   

“I’m looking forward to working with all of you in this new position and finding ways to use MeL to support you and your patrons.”

Theresa Runyan
800-530-9019 x151

Set up a visit: https://mcls.org/melrequest


Theresa Runyan, MeL Engagement Specialist
Ann Kaskinen, MeL Engagement Specialist

K-12 Community

Ann Kaskinen is the MeL Engagement Specialist for K-12.  Her position is to support the K-12 community in using Michigan eLibrary resources. She worked as a K-12 Library-Media Specialist for nearly 16 years but her career started as a high school teacher in the English, social studies, and public speaking subjects.  She has also served as a consultant for Allegan Area Education Service Agency (AESA) and Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (ISD).  More recently, she completed an internship at the Kalamazoo Public Library and served as a teen librarian for Bay County Public Library in Panama City, Florida.   

“As an advocate of MeL for most of my career, I am more than excited to assist school personnel with the navigation of the new eResources that can support K12 curriculum. I know it can be a challenge finding and utilizing new tools for instruction, but the new suite of EBSCO databases does not disappoint!”


Ann Kaskinen
800-530-9019 x150

Set up a visit: https://mcls.org/melrequest

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

Evaluating Your Library's Programming

Marshall District Library staff

Shauna Swantek, Head of Public Services, Marshall District Library

The new year brings with it a natural time for reflection.  Why not apply this to programming at the library as well?  Consider answering the following on your own or with your team. You may need to break the questions down for various demographics you serve.  These are not meant to be yes or no questions; when possible, follow your response with a why explanation.  Be curious as you reflect on the work your library programming staff does.


  • What was the best attended program last year?
  • What program created the most buzz online?  Around town?
  • What program was really unique?  Why?
  • How did we evaluate a "successful" program in the last year:  attendance, feedback, other?
  • What do we do solidly for a core group of people but never seem to see new faces there?
  • Is there a program that needs to be discontinued?  Re-imagined?  Re-scheduled for a different time?  Re-staffed?
  • When was the last time we surveyed our patrons/community to help inform our programming?


New or expanding programming

  • What do we sometimes/often forget about when creating a program?
  • Have we invited local people/organizations in to program with us lately?
  • How are we taking library programming out of our building?
  • Did some programs help us serve people we do not usually see? 
  • What programs did we offer that were multi-generational?
  • What are we/should we be intentional about when creating a program?
  • How might a new program create a community of learners/makers/doers?


Making the most of staff, resources, & programs

  • Who is gifted with a particular program/audience?  Why does this work so well?
  • What programs am I personally most enjoying preparing for/leading? 
  • Are there programs I need to let go or pass on to someone else?
  • How do we tell the story of successful programs to those who aren't able to attend?

You probably ended up creating some of your own reflection questions and/or notes along the way. The real work is considering how you can apply the answers/information to planning efforts. Look for opportunities and low hanging fruit; start there. Most of all, be honest. If it doesn't light you up, you may not the right person to lead that program. Try to work with other staff as part of a team so everyone is working from a place of true investment and shining their light on your community.

The 2019 theme for Dispatch is Library Programming

Do you have words of wisdom about library programming to share?

Contact Sonya Schryer Norris at norriss2@michigan.gov.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Lady justice with a book

Gail Madziar, Executive Director, Michigan Library Association

The Legislative Process

A flurry of legislative activity during 2018 lame duck sparked questions about how laws are passed. The Michigan Legislature can develop and consider legislation on any subject not prohibited by the state or federal constitutions.

Every potential legislation must go through the same process. One challenge of lame duck – defined as the time between November elections and the end of the legislative session – is the sheer number of bills considered in that relatively short period of time. During this time bills can be fast tracked and passed or they can be killed.

An Idea Becomes a Bill

The idea for some bills come from constituents who report a problem uncovering a legislative need. We educate lawmakers and bring ideas and knowledge to the lawmaking process.

A Bill Becomes Law

Bills may be introduced in either chamber where they are referred to committees. Once the bill is referred to committee, MLA and librarians may contact those legislators’ offices to educate them on how the proposed legislation might affect libraries.

Committee Action

Committee members consider the bill and may hold public hearings. MLA may submit a request to testify for or against the bill. Once the committee votes to send the bill to the House or Senate floor, we might ask you to contact your legislator and let them know how the bill’s passage would affect your library.

Enactment by the Legislature

If a bill passes, it is sent to the other chamber of the Legislature where it follows the same procedure resulting in defeat or passage. If a bill is passed by both chambers in identical form, it then goes to the Governor. If a bill is passed in a different form by the second chamber, the bill must be returned to the chamber of origin for passage.

Governor Action

Upon receipt of an enrolled bill, the Governor has 14 days to consider the bill and may:

  • Sign the bill into law
  • Veto the bill
  • Choose not to sign or veto the bill. If the Legislature has adjourned by the time the bill reaches the Governor, she has fourteen days to approve the bill or it dies.

If the Governor vetoes a bill while the Legislature is in session or recess, the Legislature may override the veto by a two-thirds vote and it becomes law.

It can all be confusing, but the best explanation remains with the 1970s video I’m just a Bill on Capitol Hill. If you’ve never watched it, take a minute and you’ll come away with some insight to the federal process. If you grew up watching Schoolhouse Rock, it’s a sweet moment of nostalgia. Either way, it highlights the fact we have both rights and responsibilities to help establish the policies that govern our state and nation. Fair warning: after viewing the video you may be humming the “I’m just a bill” song all day long. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyeJ55o3El0

To follow a bill’s activity, visit:  Get Bill Status from the Michigan Legislature Website  If you have questions about pending legislation, contact me at gmadziar@milibaries.org.

New Grant Program from LM for Collections and Access

Ten dollar bill

Karren Reish, LSTA Grants Coordinator, LM

We are pleased to announce the LM will have three competitive grant programs in 2019. We will continue the Collaborative Library Services program (large grants) and the Public Library Services program (small grants). We are excited to start a new Improving Access to Information program, which is a medium-sized, one-year grant program with a $5,000 to $25,000 funding range and the possibility of applying for a second year depending on program outcomes.

The Improving Access grant program provides Michigan public and academic libraries the opportunity to improve access to information in their communities. Programs can focus on increasing a library’s capacity to offer services and resources in several areas, including literacy (ESL, early literacy, digital literacy); local history or special collections; and improving digital or other access opportunities to community users with limited access. Applications are due May 31, 2019 and approved grants begin October 1, 2019.

As in previous years, the Collaborative Library Services program is for projects that include a library and at least one community partner and are developing a program that serves an underserved population, such as at-risk youth. The focus of these grants is a community program with some level of innovation. These grants are for one to three years and for $50,000 to $500,000. For those interested in this program, an Intent to File form is required and is due January 31, 2019. Applications are due May 31, 2019 and approved grants begin October 1, 2019.

The Public Library Services grant program helps public libraries with small grants of $500 to $2,000 for summer programming supplies for children and youth, literacy or technology-related programs for youths. These can be used for activities like a maker club for teens or summer reading programs, financial literacy or digital literacy programs, etc. Check the web site for some sample programs. Applications are due March 8, 2019. Grants will be awarded in April for summer 2019 programs.

Eligibility guidelines, detailed timelines and application information for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant programs are at www.Michigan.gov/LSTA. Check out informational and application webinars scheduled for this spring. Please contact Karren Reish with any questions at 517-241-0021 or reishk@michigan.gov.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Michigan Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) Data Conference Announced: August 7-8, 2019

Research in Public Libraries logo

Kathy Kosinski, Statewide Library Services Analyst, LM

Save the date for a Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) Regional event on August 7-8, 2019, in East Lansing. What is a RIPL Regional? It’s a scaled-down version of the national data boot camp – two days, four instructors, and up to 50 public library participants from Michigan and beyond – that provides the training necessary to begin using data and evaluation for managing, planning, and demonstrating impact. This event is hosted by LM in partnership with the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Library Consortium. Registration opens for Michigan residents on March 18, 2019.

Registration is $50 and includes breakfast and lunch both days of the event. Some travel stipends (covering the registration fee, transportation, lodging, and meals), provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the LM, are available to participants working in small and rural public libraries in the U.S. Information about the travel stipend application process will be available on February 4, 2019.

For more information, please see the event webpage. Questions? Email Joe Hamlin at hamlinj2@michigan.gov.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

LM releases ‘Michigan Men in the War’ letters online

Wood carving of a man at war

Bernadette Bartlett, Michigan Documents Librarian, LM

The LM proudly announces Michigan Men in the War, a series compiled by E. Elden Davis, is available online at the LM’s digital repository, Governing Michigan. 

With quirky titles like “Brag is a good dog, but holdfast is better,” and ‘The boys call them Sharpfellers,” these booklets contain transcripts of selected letters authored by Michigan soldiers during the Civil War. 

Originally published during and after the 1860s in Michigan newspapers such as the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune; Wolverine Citizen; Detroit Free Press; and others, the letters provide insight into both the significant and mundane events of this conflict through the eyes of the Michigan men who experienced them.

Civil War enthusiast Elden Davis has dedicated decades, and travelled thousands of miles in Michigan and elsewhere, to research and compile this series.  The letters he transcribed contain detail about troop movements, camp conditions, and the general health and outlook of the soldiers.

Each letter is written with a unique style and voice, taking the reader back to a time of danger and apprehension through first person accounts and original poetry that communicate a broad spectrum of emotion.

In addition to the soldiers' writings, Davis has included (when available) factual data on the individual soldier, photographs of monuments or other relevant sites and uniquely appropriate illustrations.

“This series reflects exactly what the Library of Michigan is about, collecting and showcasing unique Michigan stories, by Michigan authors,” said State Librarian Randy Riley. “We are excited to provide access to this material and grateful to Mr. Davis for sharing his work with us and the rest of the state.”

These works are provided by the LM and available on the library’s digital repository, Governing Michigan.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

The Library of Michigan has redesigned its website!

Our homepage address remains the same at https://michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan but interior pages need to be updated in your bookmarks or on your website.

library of michigan foundation

Established in 1985, the Library of Michigan Foundation is a 501 c (3) nonprofit charity governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Foundation provides opportunities for charitable giving to support Library of Michigan programs, collections and services otherwise not provided through state or federal funding. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $6 million in private and corporate donations for programs to boost adult literacy, youth and early childhood literacy, special services for the blind and physically handicapped, statewide support for libraries, librarians, library staff and trustees and construction of the Martha W. Griffiths Michigan Rare Book Room.