WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI – When the Ypsilanti District Library’s newest branch opens in November, hundreds of hands will have helped stock its shelves.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, an estimated more than 400 volunteers showed up to pass books and other materials one by one down a human chain along Harris Road in Superior Township, carefully guarding them from their current home at a small library site in a nearby territory. fire station for the new Superior department.
“(It was) kind of a leap of faith because you need a certain amount of people to make it happen,” Superior Branch Manager Mary Garboden said. “But our community emerged, just like Ypsilanti does.”
Library officials were inspired by similar “book brigade” events held at other libraries and bookstores. But when they put an invitation to the residents to join the event was not purely for logistical reasons.
The “temporary” branch of the fire station at the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Harris Road, which first opened in 2007, has been closed since 2020 with access to its cramped quarters the size of a two-car garage, one of the casualties of the Covid19- pandemic.
So Saturday served as a reunion, Garboden said, for people who have loved and used the branch over the years, including children who would come in on a daily basis to log on to its computers and take advantage of other resources.
Plus, how often do you get a chance to hold an entire run of books?
“It’s unheard of that someone would go into the library and handle 2,000 books,” Garboden said, referring to the rough number of items moved on Saturday. She said the brigade would sometimes stutter when one of its members came across a book that spoke to them.
“It was exactly what we wanted, so efficiency was not the top priority,” she said. “It was really building community and building excitement about the new library and just about libraries and books in general.”
That new 7,800 square meter Superior brancha dream that dates back to Superior Township joining YDL 15 years ago, is scheduled to cut the ribbon on Monday, Nov. 14, kicking off a week of grand opening programming in the new space.
The library, funded when the voters approved a 2018 millage for the project and kept alive by donations as costs skyrocketed during the pandemicwill house the roughly 4,000 existing items in the temporary branch, as well as roughly 10,000 new ones that Garboden said should arrive by the end of October.
The new building will offer the public meeting space it never had before and allow YDL officials to host a free youth lunch program in the summer in partnership with Food Gatherers, an impossibility in the smaller space, the branch manager said.
Among the other new programs will also be options for the library’s popular “read to a dog” initiative to help children who struggle with reading confidence. The program requires its own room, a luxury not provided by the small Superior section.
YDL employees are now rushing to prepare the branch for its grand opening, making sure residents walk through its doors for the first time to find well-stocked shelves, Garboden said.
“It is a strong community here. We get to know people and they get to know us,” she said. “It was a really beautiful sight to see all the people come and support us.”
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