Library of Michigan Dispatch Newsletter May 2020

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Dispatch Newsletter  -  May 2020

In this Issue:

On the Resilience of Michigan Libraries During COVID-19

Flowers growing out of rocsks

by Randy Riley, State Librarian, LM

During the last six weeks, it has been inspiring to observe the amazing things the library community is doing in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. It hasn’t been easy for any of us, but libraries have stepped up. I am extremely proud of the staff of the Library of Michigan (LM) and the work they have done the past several weeks in providing libraries across the state opportunities to talk, share ideas, and most importantly, listen to your concerns. The weekly Virtual Directors Meetings, Youth Services Updates, training sessions, webinars, and regular one-on-one conversations with individual libraries have fostered meaningful conversations with hundreds of librarians and library users. Serving you is the reason we exist.

Many libraries are feeling challenged trying to find their place in the middle of a pandemic and how to define “essential services.” Don’t get frustrated about what the role of your library should look like during the crisis. When this is over, the services and programs your library provides will be crucial in helping get your cities, counties, towns, and villages back on track. Your community may not see you as essential during the current COVID-19 crisis, but libraries will play an essential role in the recovery. Start planning what that looks like today.

The challenges of working from home reminds me of a Maya Angelou quote. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Remember, we cannot fix all our problems today. Give yourself a break. We are experiencing a challenge that no one could have predicted.  Take care of and be kind to your staff. Make sure you are sharing information and actively communicating with them. Lastly, be patient. We will survive. We are all experiencing similar challenges. Identify opportunities to talk with and support other librarians in virtual meetings or informally. Being available to listen to a colleague may have a huge impact.

LM Staff are available to answer any of your questions or concerns. If you have not had the opportunity to join any of our virtual meetings, please consider participating. Right now, they are one of the best ways for the LM to share information to a wide audience of libraries. And… most importantly, stay safe.

Baldwin Public Library Produced 35,000 Face Shields for Health Professionals and First Responders in Their Idea Lab

Health care workers with a big thank you sign

by Doug Koschik, Director, BPL

Baldwin Public Library (BPL) located in in the Detroit metro community of Birmingham, opened an Idea Lab in 2017. A makerspace that offers 3D printing, die cutting, silicone casting, dye sublimation, silk screen printing, sewing, embroidery and more, it has proved to be a great success. Each month the lab welcomes about 250 visitors and supplies 20 certifications.

When BPL was forced to close in March because of COVID-19, Jeff Jimison, the Lab’s supervisor, moved all the Library’s 3D printers to his home. One of the Lab’s frequent users reached out to Jeff with a proposal. Health professionals and first-line responders were short on face shields, needed to protect themselves against COVID-19. The patron proposed that Jeff coordinate the production of face shields using about a dozen 3D printers—both the Library’s as well as those belonging to individual volunteers.  

PolyFlex Products Inc. contacted Jeff and offered to supply free labor and injection molding machines to produce face shields on an industrial scale. All PolyFlex asked in return was for help raising money to supply the raw materials.

The Library began a media blitz to raise funds  (3D Printing Specialist discusses printing PPE to fight against COVID-19), and within a month, BPL Trust raised $40,000. To date, the Library team and PolyFlex have produced and distributed 35,000 shields -  donated to more than 150 organizations, including hospitals, doctors' offices, police and fire departments, and senior centers.

Donations from more than 200 individuals and organizations, ranged from $2 to $10,000. The largest single donors were Michigan Schools & Government Credit Union, Birmingham Rotary Club Endowment Fund, and Friends of the Baldwin Public Library.

BPL is proud of the role played in helping Michigan during the pandemic. By cooperating with individual citizens and private business to fulfill an urgent need, we have proved that our Idea Lab is an essential resource for the community.

Michigan Libraries Serve Their Communities Even with Their Doors Closed


by Joe Hamlin, Library Data Coordinator, LM

In troubling times, you can rely on Michigan’s public libraries to continue to provide quality services. LM began tracking digital collections in 2012. Since then, we have seen yearly increases in the amount of content available to library patrons. With collection sizes reaching from the thousands to tens of thousands and participation in digital consortia, electronic collections continue to grow. In 2019, Michigan’s public libraries reported that libraries offered 15.8 million eBooks, 8.2 million audio books, and 1.3 million digital videos/movies. More than 25 million items of digital content for patrons - and this doesn't include databases provided, which could be cost prohibitive for the average consumer to buy for personal use.

To many, libraries are a place to pick out a book, attend story time, or ask a reference question. You can still do these things when you don’t have access to your library’s physical space. Michigan’s public libraries have been building digital collections, databases and other virtual services for the last nine years and for some, much longer. Libraries continue to adapt to meet the changing needs of the communities they serve.

As Michigan’s libraries build their digital collections, collaboration continues to be important. Many public libraries belong to digital consortia. The amount of content available in these shared collections is enormous. Libraries have also built collections limited to their own patrons and continue to expand them. Several have also added electronic resources such as Ancestry, Linda, Hoopla and Zinio. In addition to the wide selection of content available at your library, every Michigander has access to the electronic content provided by the LM through its 70+ MeL databases found at

Michigan’s public libraries continue to evolve to offer the best possible service to their communities. Electronic collections and virtual services are ways your library is adapting to serve. These will continue to grow to help fill the need for entertainment, information, and learning for all ages. Visit your library virtually to get access to eBooks, movies, audio books, music, programming, educational opportunities, business resources, and more.

Community Connections at Superior District Library (Part II)

Hands interlocked

by Megan Kinney, Manager, Bayliss Library

Part I of Welcome Home: Library as Safe Space and Refuge at Superior District Library, from January 2020.

This article was originally published in Intersections Blog.  American Library Association (ALA) Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS) and is republished with permission.

As Lynn and Peter spent increasingly more time at the library, we all got to know them better, and became a part of their support network in Sault Ste. Marie. They would update us regularly on job searching, their tenuous housing situation, and community connections. One day, Lynn told me she was pregnant. She had a huge smile on her face and seemed happy, if a bit nervous. Peter grinned shyly, as per usual, but it was obvious he was truly chuffed.

Our conversation led to talking about seeing the doctor, getting WIC benefits, finding permanent housing for them as a family - couch surfing would be a difficult way to care for a new baby. I was thrilled to find out that they already were getting plugged into the resources they needed. They had been grabbing lunch at The Salvation Army, and the very helpful staff and clients there had helped them navigate the system with dignity and assertiveness.

The pregnancy was not without issues or concerns, but as the library, it was important that we were a constant and consistent support for this couple. Regular check-ins and some “thinking out loud” as we problem-solved and prioritized. When their baby finally arrived, one of the family's first stops was the library. We were all smitten with the little bundle of joy, and immediately gave them a board book and invited them to story time the very next day...and they came. The staff also chipped in for some taxi tokens, as they had no car, and public transportation is almost non-existent in our area.

Lynn and Peter eventually had to take their little family to a bigger town with more resources. We were crushed, but also happy that they were moving to a place that could better support them. Of course, we gave them information on the public library, and told them to introduce themselves and say that we sent them. We did get some updated photos in a library email account after they were settled in, but correspondence dropped off when the COVID-19 closures began.

The takeaway for the library in this touching story is to be welcoming and supportive to all patrons, especially those experiencing homelessness and poverty. Additionally, it is the mission of the library to get a place at the table with social services, community resource centers, and public health providers, and to share it with our patrons in a way that is supportive and genuinely compassionate. Be that hub in the community where folks come for trustworthy, non-judgmental advice and guidance.

For more information on helpful agencies, organizations, and partnerships, please contact me at or 906-632-9331.

Serving Michigan Libraries Is the Reason LM Exists

Contact Us, We're Here for You

Share Your COVID-19 Story Through the LM

share your story

by Adam Oster, Community Engagement Librarian, LM

Michigan residents are welcome to participate in recording their personal account of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eyewitnesses to historical events as they have unfolded around us the past few weeks, and now is the time for us to record our experiences, thoughts, and feelings. The LM and the Historical Society of Michigan are partnering to collect and preserve the stories of Michigan residents during the pandemic to provide future historians, researchers, and students with information and data on life in Michigan communities during the crisis. 

“As researchers we often question why more people didn’t document everyday life during major historical events. Why didn’t great-grandpa keep a journal? The COVID-19 project allows us all to be part of capturing a meaningful snapshot of what life was like during the coronavirus crisis. Believe me, researchers and historians 100 years from now will thank you,” said State Librarian Randy Riley.

Participants are asked to take time each day to record their activities, thoughts, and/or feelings in diary form. Submissions of stories, essays, observations, or poetry are also acceptable. Entries can be handwritten, typed, or in video format, and as long or as short as desired. Do not worry about handwriting, spelling, or punctuation. The goal is to capture personal experiences.

More information about the COVID-19: Save Your Story project can be found at, including writing prompts, and a link to the submission form. Want to use the COVID-19: Save Your Story project as part of your library’s virtual programming? Use the “Tools for Sharing the ‘COVID-19: Save Your Story’ Project” on the bottom of the project’s website. Look for additional writing prompts and other information on the social media accounts of LM and the Historical Society of Michigan. Email questions about the project to

Changing Programming Focus to Meet Community Needs in the Time of COVID-19 at the Salem-South Lyon District Library

Salem South Lyon District Library logo

by Karren Reish, Library Grants Coordinator, LM

The unprecedented change in library services this year is an ongoing challenge for libraries. Children and teens need support, not only for summer slide, but for current curriculum needs as they try to do schoolwork from home. At the Salem-South Lyon District Library (SSLDL), staff is working to meet these changing needs. SSLDL received a Public Library Services grant from the LM this spring.  SSLDL plans coding programs for children, tweens and teens. They may create their own stories using CS First, Vidcode, Twine and Hour Code. “Hour of Code” provides hands-on fun with screen-free coding games and Scratch programming on computers. “Imagine Your Story with Twine” lets tweens and teens learn how to create text-based games using Twine, an online tool for creating interactive stories on the computer. 

Grant funds also would be used for nine Chromebooks. By purchasing Chromebooks, staff would be able to provide computer programs to children and teens without limiting or disrupting access to the computer lab for other members of the community.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic school and library closures, SSLDL will not be offering in-person programs this summer, so staff regrouped and found new ways to provide these learning opportunities. By modifying the coding programs, kids and teens will be able to complete the programming activities at home. Kids will sign-up for the programs using SSLDL’s events site and may check out the coding kit for one week. Each checkout is a bag that includes the Chromebook and a coding lesson plan.

Kudos to the SSLDL staff for reaching out to families and providing them an opportunity to learn coding skills from home.

Rural Libraries Conference 2020 Awards

Rural Libraries Conference logo

by Angela Semifero, Director, MDL

Every two years, small and rural libraries across Michigan are honored for their leadership, excellence, and collaboration at the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference (SRLC).

The winner of the 2020 Outstanding Small/Rural Librarian Award is Fran Hotchkiss from the Brandon Township Library (BTL). Fran has provided outstanding leadership and made significant contributions to her community over her 45 years at BTL. She began assisting with shelving books when she was five, and after high school graduation became Head of Children's Services. She continued in that role for many years, working with generations of children. Currently serving as the library’s Community Outreach Liaison Librarian, Fran runs more than 30 programs monthly.

The Trustee/Friend Award is given to a Trustee or Friend for distinguished service to small and rural library development on a local, state or national level. This year’s Trustee award winner is Jackie Kemler of the White Pine District Library (WPDL). Jackie joined the WPDL Board more than 40 years ago, serving as Board Secretary for 35 years. She volunteers her service in many ways as part of the Library team. Jackie has consistently shown her commitment to her library and her community.

Occasionally the Awards Committee receives an exceptional nomination that doesn’t fit any specific award category. In this case, the committee has chosen to honor a nominee with a special acknowledgement of their contributions to their library and community. Jane Gyulveszi, recently retired Director of the Bellaire Public Library (BPL), is this year’s Community Programming Innovator Award winner. During her time as Director, the library launched preschool programming, a young adult book club, and numerous creative adult programs. She also reached out to participate in community events. 

The Portage Lake District Library (PLDL) is this year’s winner of the June B. Mendel Award for Excellence in Library Service. Serving a population of 11,100, PLDL has focused its community programming efforts towards hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. This initiative has resulted in cooking demos, graphic design and coding classes, and a seven-day arts and ecology expedition to a remote forested island in Lake Superior. Local high school students spend a week on the island reading, writing, painting, cooking, fishing, and creating dye from natural plants.  For more information visit the Rabbit Island School.

PLDL co-hosts the local Farmer’s Market, provides Braille story walks, story time events, scavenger hunts, live music, and an easy cooking class known as Biblio Bistro. PLDL has also partnered with a local school district to provide library services and has found unique ways of addressing informational and recreational needs in the community.

While the 2020 Award winners could not be honored in person this year, due to the COVID-!9 pandemic, we know they will continue to inspire their communities with their dedication and creativity.

Resources Through to Support Remote Learning During COVID-19

MeL Logo

by Liz Breed, Michigan eLibrary Coordinator, LM

Remote learning has become the center of many people’s worlds during this unprecedented time, and as parents, educators and library staff navigate these uncharted waters, we want you to know the Michigan eLibrary (MeL) is here to provide support. MeL has long been a 24/7/365 resource of digital content for library staff and educators to use with their patrons and students. MeL is even more of a support as we help bridge connections to early literacy tools, eBooks, and homework help for all types of learners.


  1. Support for our youngest learners. PebbleGo (grades K-3) and World Book Early Learning (grades PreK-3) provide content to help new readers and younger learners. Leveled reading and read-aloud options are just a few of the supports available. Content aligns with Essential Instructional Practices in Literacy K to 3
  2. MeL’s eBook Collections have more than 220,000 titles with most offering unlimited copies and simultaneous use. The K-8 and High School collections are about two-thirds nonfiction and one-third fiction. Other useful collections include academic titles and business
  3. Students can keep their skills sharp with LearningExpress Library (grades 4-12). Content includes more than 700 courses (including Microsoft Office and Adobe courses), a wide range of practice tests for reading, math, social studies and science, tutorials, eBooks, and flash cards. Practice tests include GED, AP practice tests, ACT, SAT, PSAT, and TOEFL as well as trade certification and civil service practice tests. Create a free account to get started.
  4. Homework help with encyclopedia content from Britannica and World Book. Britannica School (grades K-12) offers more than132,000 articles, 100,000 images and 27,000 eBooks. Tools include translation for 50+ languages and read-aloud functionality. Includes lexile ranges and alignment with curriculum standards. World Book Kids (grades K-5) offers easy-to-read content for learners and includes hundreds of videos and images, science projects and other activities to engage students at home.
  5. Google Tools: The resources in MeL work seamlessly with Google tools such as Classroom and Drive. With only a couple of clicks, students and teachers can save articles and eBook content directly into either of these spaces.

Not only do MeL’s regular offerings support learners at home, additional content from our vendors is also available for a limited time. Visit our Learning in Place page for more details and to access this extra content, which includes eBooks, activities, and much more.

To see our full list of eResources, visit our eResources area. Need to learn about MeL eResources? Check out MeL’s eResources Learning Academy to access short tutorials.

CARES Act Funding and Michigan Libraries


by Karren Reish, Library Grants Coordinator, LM

As part of the CARES Act, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is distributing funds to state libraries. LM received $902,397 in CARES Act funds this month.

The LM grant program is designed to assist public libraries in providing improved access to the Internet for their community, while maintaining a safe environment for staff and patrons. The intent is to fund one-year projects that increase libraries’ supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and facilities supplies (Goal 1) as well as increase community Internet connectivity through the purchase of Internet capable devices, hotspots or other appropriate materials, equipment, and supplies (Goal 2).

To meet these goals, public libraries can request funds for PPE and facilities supplies and services of $500 per main library location and $300 per branch location. All eligible requests for this goal will be funded. To meet the second goal, eligible public libraries can request digital inclusion supplies and services of up to $5,000 for Class V and VI libraries, up to $3,000 for Class III and IV libraries, and up to $1,000 for Class I & II libraries. Libraries that are in communities with high rates of unemployment and poverty and low rates of Broadband access will have priority for Goal 2.

The CARES Act funds come with two priorities from IMLS. First, to help public libraries address digital inclusion and related technical support, especially in communities with high rates of unemployment and poverty and low rates of broadband access. Second, to help public libraries respond to issues related to COVID-19. This is the reason for the priorities LM chose after discussion with Michigan library directors. The LM CARES Act grant information will be posted in May with an application deadline that will depend on when libraries in Michigan are allowed to reopen to the public. 

Training for library staff on how to deal with the COVID-19 crisis in their libraries and how to effectively meet the digital inclusion needs of their community is one focus, and grants to public libraries also be addressed. The grants and training extend from this summer until fall of 2021 with the great majority of funding going to grants supporting the two goals described above. Libraries eligible to receive LSTA funding are encouraged to apply for the CARES Act funds. We will start training as soon as possible through webinars and other venues as the COVID-19 crisis allows.

As we deal with the short- and long-term consequences of this crisis on Michigan's library community and patrons, we offer the grants and training to assist you in meeting the needs of your staff and your community.

Local Information in a Time of Crisis at the Cadillac Wexford Public Library


by Tracy Logan-Walker, Director, CWPL

In 2019, the Cadillac Wexford Public Library (CWPL) engaged in strategic planning. Keeping and disseminating local information was identified as a service priority. During the COVID-19 crisis, library staff decided to collect and share reliable resources, especially local resources, with our service population. This would occur primarily through our website, but occasionally through social media for issues of immediate or great importance.

Staff asked, “What do people need to know right now?” We assembled a list of subjects intended to reflect the concerns of our community, including information on school closings, school and senior meals, and basic facts about the virus. The list was based on staff conversations and looking at local groups on Facebook (FB), as our community uses FB heavily. Local groups provided insight into what was making the public anxious along with what information they were seeking.  The library also joined other FB groups created in response to the crisis. They included volunteers looking for ways to help, and small business owners who wanted to provide support to each other.

Once staff had a clear sense of what resources were needed, we looked at local organizations for information through websites, social media, and by direct contact. CWPL followed several local organizations on FB to keep apprised of their initiatives, sharing the information and occasionally partnering with them.

Every day staff consults local FB groups and organizational websites, and we ask ourselves again, “What do people need to know right now?” New issues continue to rise. Currently, staff members are working to develop a list of local farmers and butchers to assist patrons in response to the meat shortage. The Chamber of Commerce and our U.S. Representative have shared links about small business support.

Our local resources web page is a work in progress. As the public's concerns change, we want to make sure that their most immediate information needs are easy to find. We are also working on promotion by sharing the page with local organizations (via email, social media, and attending their remote meetings) and asking them to share the link with their staff and membership. Local organizations also are encouraged to share resources they feel should be added to the our resources page.

By serving as an online clearinghouse of information needs, CWPL hopes to prove that even with our doors temporarily closed, we can still be of service.

Our Save Your Story project allows us all to be part of capturing a meaningful snapshot of what life was like during the coronavirus crisis. Researchers and historians a hundred years from now will thank you.

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.