Library of Michigan Dispatch Newsletter: November 2019

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Library of Michigan Dispatch Newsletter  -  November 2019

In this Issue:

Rural Libraries Conference Awards

Leadership logo for RLC 2020

by Randy Riley, State Librarian, LM

We all enjoy the feeling of being recognized by our peers for a job well done. This is your opportunity to put together a nomination packet for one of four awards being given at the Small and Rural Libraries Conference in Traverse City, April 13-15, 2020.

Please consider who you know that meets the quality of excellence in the profession. Do you know someone at a small or rural library who is a leader in our profession? Do you have a trustee or friend who goes above and beyond the call of duty to promote and advance your library? Do you know a small or rural library that truly excels? We want to hear from you. Self-nominations are accepted for the Mendel award that goes to a library and it includes a cash prize of $1,000.

Nominations are due by Friday, January 17, 2020 to or by post to Sonya Schryer Norris, Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing, MI 48909.

There are four awards in 2020. The categories are:

  • Outstanding Small/Rural Librarian Award
  • Trustee/Friend Award
  • Patron Service Award (includes children's services)
  • The June B. Mendel Award for Excellence in Rural Library Service (this award goes to a small/rural library)


1. Nomination packet (1-5 points): Does the nomination packet contain letters of support from appropriate individuals such as respected community members, respected members of the library community, library patrons, library friends and library board members concerning the person or library's accomplishments? A typical nomination packet is 5-10 pages.

2. Unique accomplishments (1-10 points): Does the nomination packet contain examples of accomplishments that make this person or library stand out from the other nominations? What's unique for a small or rural library might be within normal operations for a mid or large library.

3. Quality of accomplishments (1-10 points): Does the person or library exemplify the best in current library practices? Are they doing more than old-fashioned or routine library service and truly striving for excellence as identified by modern-day best practices including but not limited to activities such as community engagement, diversity of collections & programming, and progressive policies?

Please note that Library Cooperative staff and conference planning committee chairs are not eligible for conference awards. To qualify for the award the library must serve a population of 25,000 or fewer. Branch locations of larger libraries do not qualify for nomination. The nomination may come from another library, a library user, a community business or organization, or a library cooperative. Self-nominations are also accepted.

The award nomination form can be found here: Award Nomination Form.

The Library of Michigan (LM), the Library of Michigan Foundation, and State Librarian Randy Riley are excited to announce this additional opportunity for library recognition. At the Michigan Library Association (MLA) annual conference, the State Librarian’s Excellence Award was presented to Capital Area District Library and Citation of Excellence awards to Petoskey District Library and Howe Memorial Library in Breckenridge for their superior customer service.

Literacy for Life Kits

Literacy pack

Britney Dillon, Director, Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library

As librarians, we hear the word “literacy” often, and in many aspects of our job - news literacy, computer literacy, digital literacy, cultural literacy, vernacular literacy. But the one area of literacy that we’ve chosen to focus on here at the Alvah N. Belding Library is early literacy. 

A little over a year ago, I was writing a grant for a story walk project, and was looking up some literacy numbers for Ionia County. The percentage of children in Ionia County who weren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade was astounding. And heartbreaking. Naturally, the librarian side of my brain started working on the problem. 

About the same time, rumblings began about the new Read by Grade Three (RBG3) law that would be taking effect. Suddenly, we began to get a lot of questions at the library about it from parents and educators. We started doing our research, trying to figure out how to help our patrons - both children and adults. We identified preschoolers as our target audience, believing that by establishing a firm literacy foundation at an early age, there would be something to build upon when they entered school. We began to plan for our Early Literacy Initiative. 

We brainstormed an info pack for our parents - something that spelled out the RBG3 law in plain language, and laid out the implications. We also included materials about incorporating early literacy into the home, and into several aspects of everyday life, and provided a list of activities to help support early literacy. We divided these into three age groups - birth to 2, Pre-K to Kindergarten, and first to third grade - and included age-appropriate activities for each. 

Another idea that came out of several brainstorming sessions was our Literacy Packs. Again targeting preschoolers, we put together a one-stop-shop of materials, which families could check out, that would help prepare them for what they'll encounter in school. We focused on the five areas of literacy - vocabulary, comprehension, phonics, phonemic awareness, and fluency - and looked for materials that would build, evolve, and support development in those areas. 

Armed with the knowledge and understanding that all kids learn in different ways (visual, audible, tactile, kinesthetic) we created 10 packs (Level I and Level II for each of the five areas of focus) and included in each pack different materials that would reach all types of learners. Our packs are populated with not only books but puzzles, CDs, DVDs, games, activities, and manipulatives, all promoting the skills necessary for kids to build a strong foundation of literacy. Our packs check out for one week at a time, giving families time to work their way through the contents multiple times, and the offering of Level I and Level II in each area allows children to learn new skills as they grow and develop. 

Since the introduction of our Literacy Packs last fall, they have been one of our most heavily-circulated items. At any given time, six or seven of them are checked out. We have had reports from parents that their children love the packs because they are fun, and parents love them because they’re ready-made resources. Overall, we’ve been extremely happy with the reception of our Literacy Packs as the first step in our attempt to do everything we can to help the parents and children of our community build a strong literacy foundation.

LM Promotes Development of Local Collections across Michigan

Photos and a notebook

by Matthew Pacer, Reference Librarian, LM

The LM began a new initiative in 2019 to support libraries across the state struggling to find the right direction to develop and leverage their local collections. "Creating a Local Materials Collection" is a guide born out of a series of conversations with libraries and LM’s own expertise in managing Michigan-specific special collections that promotes a practical approach to focusing, developing, organizing, and promoting local collections. 

All Michigan communities have a unique story to tell and local collections can capture and preserve the legacy of a community and the influence of its residents. In the guide, "local" refers to materials published or compiled about people, places, and events within a region, county, township, municipality, village, or tribal community. A local collection could include materials published by community organizations, interest groups, local governments, and individuals. Common items found in a local collection may include family histories, county/city/village histories, church directories, government charters and ordinances and scrapbooks or collections of newspaper clippings and ephemera regarding people, events, and the surrounding area. 

The guide is not intended to be a step-by-step manual, rather a thought-process or approach to resolving common issues associated with local collections. Some of the persistent themes in the guide include:

  • Keeping a local collection relevant by including current, not just historical information;
  • Using collection development to establish bright lines around the area from which you will collect;
  • Collaborate (don’t compete) with other local collecting groups or institutions;
  • Conserve time and resources by weeding or discarding materials outside of your collection development policy;
  • Plan to promote, brand, and fund your local collection;
  • Create documentation to ensure consistent practice;
  • Avoid pitfalls such as underestimating the workload of incoming donations or over-committing library resources;
  • Use local collections to generate funding, programming, and new audiences

Through the guide, the state library is hoping to promote a consistent approach to collecting local materials, placing public libraries at "ground zero" for selecting, acquiring, and preserving materials, while LM provides support through the guide and being available for on-site visits. Additionally, the state library will accept local materials a library may no longer need or have the resources to retain permanently.    

Access Creating a Local Materials Collection on LM’s website and feel free to contact us at or 517-335-1477 if you have questions about the guide or want to set up a library visit. We look forward to hearing from you.

Kate Van Auken Is the New Director at White Pine Library Cooperative

Cora Schaeff, Mimi Herrington, Kate Van Auken

by Kate Van Auken, Director, White Pine Library Cooperative

Life takes us on many journeys, but I never thought it would bring me back to Saginaw. About 20 years ago, I lived just a few blocks away from where the White Pine Library Cooperative office is located. At that time, I was a stay at home mom and frequented Zauel Library’s story times with my two small children, Rob and Audrey. A job change for my husband, Joe, led us to rural Cass City, in the Thumb. In our new town we were frequent visitors to Rawson Memorial Library, a White Pine member. Perhaps because of this, I was asked to serve on Rawson’s Board of Trustees. Two years later I was hired as the director of this Class III district library, a position I held until July of this year when I accepted the position of director of White Pine.    

Class sizes of libraries are determined by population. A Class I serves populations of 3,999 or fewer and a Class VI serving populations of 50,000 or more.  Many public libraries in our state, nearly 60%, serve populations of 11,999 or fewer. Eighty-seven percent of White Pine’s members are Class I, II, or III. I am hoping my past experiences at Rawson will not only benefit members of White Pine but continue to move us forward especially as I learn from our larger and special library members. 

One of my first goals was to glean as much as I could from Bryon Sitler, who retired from White Pine after 15 years. Bryon had a wealth of knowledge of “all things library” and I am hoping a little rubbed off. The next item on the to-do list is a road trip to visit all the member library directors and staff to see first-hand what services they provide and learn about their individual communities.  Since White Pine covers libraries in 13 counties, I am super excited that I have of tons and tons of free downloadable audiobooks via Libby for the drive.

I am looking forward to working with everyone at LM as well as the other 10 cooperative directors in our state by supporting resource sharing, continuing education opportunities, advocacy efforts, and the many services which save our state’s libraries about $15 million annually. 

Updated and Expanded Manuals

The Financial Management Guide has already been posted at and the
Michigan Public LibraryTrustee Manual will be posted soon.

Later this winter, the Library of Michigan will be mailing hard copies of both manuals
to public libraries throughout the state.

Imagine Your Story with the Collaborative Summer Library Program

Cheerful children's animal figure

by Cathy Lancaster, Youth Services Coordinator, LM

Summer program planning for 2020 is coming up fast and there are some exciting changes from the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) to support library planning. CSLP is a national organization whose mission is to empower public libraries in fostering community and creating an inclusive literacy-based program for all ages. It began restructuring in 2016 to grow and improve its support for libraries.

At the 2019 Annual Meeting, held this past September in Indianapolis, CSLP members and representatives from state libraries were given sneak peeks of the new manuals, new store front, upcoming themes, and products coming for 2020. The most striking change is to the program manuals, which are now available online to all Michigan public libraries. The formatting has been updated and the age levels are now combined, with tips and tricks for adapting them, depending on the audience. Inclusion tips are also included throughout the manuals. The Early Literacy manual is separate, detailing the five practices of Every Child Ready to Read™, and has a full Spanish translation. Color photographs, clear chapter themes, and reproducible templates round out the update to manuals. 

The new store marks a huge change for CSLP. Having formerly partnered with Demco/Upstart for decades, CSLP will manage its own contracts for the site, inventory and fulfillment. This change means CSLP has more control over product choices and styles to better meet the needs of members. Along similar lines, the program artwork is now directly owned by CSLP, so members will be able to use the art not only year-round, but also in the years ahead. For 2020, the featured artist is award winning and best-selling illustrator, LeUyen Pham, who imaginatively takes us into the fairy tale/fantasy/mythology world through her artwork for the “Imagine Your Story” theme.

As public libraries work hard to plan and embrace the Imagine Your Story for 2020, CSLP is hard at work planning 2021-23 programming. You can look forward to:

  • 2021 “Tails and Tales” with artist Salina Yoon
  • 2022 “All Together Now” with artist Sophie Blackall
  • 2023 with artist Frank Morrison features an Oceanography theme, slogan to be determined

For more details on CSLP membership here in Michigan go to


Eric Palmer Is the New Director at Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative

Eric Palmer

by Eric Palmer, Director, Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative

My career started out in retail as a manager for Waldenbooks and Barnes and Noble (BN). In 2000, I started my Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree at Wayne State University, while still working full-time at BN. I graduated in May of 2004, with high hopes of landing my first great full time library job. But like a lot of librarians I did not, however I did land a part-time reference position at Baker College of Flint and continued to work at BN full-time. About a year and half later, I was promoted to Library Director, leaving BN. I worked at Baker College until 2014, but lost my job due to downsizing. Then in March of 2015, I became the Head Librarian at Northwood University in Midland. It was during the years at Baker and Northwood that I was a member of Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative (MMLC), finding good professional development through the cooperative. I also served on the MMLC Board for two years.

On October 1, 2019, I started my new exciting career as MMLC Director following the retirement of Denise Hooks. I have been busy and a little overwhelmed, but all in a good way. I have attended several meetings with such groups as the MMLC Advisory Council, Michigan Cooperative Directors Association (MCDA), Friends of Michigan Libraries, and training at LM. I also attended my first MLA conference as MMLC director. I plan to visit all of the libraries in the cooperative in the next few months, with 12 of them already scheduled. During these visits, I want to learn more about the members and what MMLC can do for them.

I bring some good ideas to the cooperative and I plan to:

  • Explore social media;
  • Provide internship possibilities (maybe similar to Suburban Library Cooperative’s program);
  • Provide more professional development for librarians and paraprofessionals and;
  • Work more with academic and special libraries.

New LSTA Grants Approved for 2019-20

George Washington

by Karren Reish, Grants Coordinator, LM

The Collaborative Library Services and new Improving Access to Information grant programs' grantees have been selected. Applications for 2019-20 were due in May and proposals were reviewed in June. In July, the peer reviewers met to discuss the proposals and recommend those for funding to the State Librarian. From those recommendations, LM approved nine grants. We cannot thank our peer reviewers and the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Advisory Council enough for their insight on the applications.

The Collaborative Library Services program supports strong community partnership designed to improve services while building community. The grants are for one to three years. This year, we have four grantees:

  • Fennville District Library ($110,000)
  • Herrick District Library ($81,450)
  • Muskegon Area District Library ($150,000)
  • Wayne State University Libraries ($123,422)

Fennville District Library is doing a three-year project to provide family literacy support to migrant families in Allegan County in collaboration with the Telamon Corporation. Herrick District Library, in cooperation with other Ottawa county libraries, is doing a three-year project to provide hotspots to improve Internet access countywide. Muskegon Area District Library is doing a two-year program with other Muskegon County libraries to develop and provide family literacy support through the Family Place Library program. And Wayne State University’s Arthur Neef Law Library is digitizing and providing broad access to Michigan’s Supreme Court records and briefs in collaboration with several other university law libraries over two years.

The Improving Access to Information program is a public and academic library program designed to increase access by improving literacy, providing broader access to special or historic collections, or improving digital access and inclusion. Grants are for one year. This year, we have five grantees:

  • Eastern Michigan University Library ($25,000)
  • Fowlerville District Library ($15,669)
  • Howell Carnegie District Library ($25,000)
  • Saint Clair County Library System ($22,106)
  • Western Michigan University ($23,758)

Eastern Michigan University Library is implementing a textbook affordability initiative. Fowlerville District Library is providing expanding access to eBooks through Pop-Up Library hotspots. Howell Carnegie District Library is digitizing and expanding access to a collection of historic photo negatives. Saint Clair County Library System is integrating technology into their county-wide services for blind and physically handicapped that allow real-time description of written and digital text (OrCam).

The individual grantees are listed in the respective grant program section at

Thank you to everyone who applied, who reviewed and who helped us work through two grant programs this spring. We look forward to learning what participating libraries achieve this year. If you have any questions about the LM grant programs, please contact me at or 517-241-0021.

2020 Dispatch Theme

Next year, our theme will be community engagement. Libraries are welcome to submit article ideas to Sonya Schryer Norris at

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.