Stair Public Library wins state award 2009.11.11

Written by David Green.


The standard has been raised, said Jim Seidl, Woodlands Library Cooperative director.leddy_at_podium.jpg

After Morenci’s Stair Public Library was honored Thursday with the State Librarian’s Excellence Award, Seidl figured it would be a little harder for next year’s winner to make the grade.

The award is presented annually by the Library of Michigan Foundation to a library that exemplifies customer service.

Candidates must demonstrate how the library provides superior services to patrons and the community in a cost-effective manner with a can-do attitude.

Stair became the first Class I library in the state—the smallest size library—to win the award in its nine-year history.

State Librarian Nancy Robertson announced the honor at a luncheon in Lansing’s Radisson Hotel, stating that Stair Public Library lives customer service.

The library generates a sense of pride for the community, Robertson said, and involves the entire community in its various programs.

She mentioned the program with Michigan Notable Book author Michael Rosenberg—including a tailgate party, marching band and guest speakers—all arranged at a cost of $100 and drawing 130 guests.

Robertson also noted how New York Times best seller Elizabeth Berg was charmed into visiting Morenci for an author chat, and how many other top authors have connected with the community via speakerphone chats.

Programs are often developed by asking patrons what they want, and then enlisting the help of a spectrum of community members to help make the events special.

Robertson quoted from Jim Seidl’s letter of support, stating that Stair doesn’t have a can-do attitude, it has a will-do attitude.

Stair library director Colleen Leddy addressed the crowd and explained how a Class I library with with a “fake” librarian—she has no library science degree—could win the state award for excellence.

The reason is community, she said, “a community of people who came together under the leadership of Liz Stella more than 12 years ago to build a library that could accommodate these programs, a community of people who continue to sustain and support the library.”

It takes a village to raise a library, she said, and she took her “village” to the stage with her, introducing two former library directors, a pair of supportive teachers, city officials, members of the Friends of Stair Public Library group, and others.

At the Morenci city council meeting Monday, Morenci mayor Keith Pennington spoke of the library’s award and said, “It brings honor to Morenci.”

Leddy told council members that the State Librarian presents the award to a library.

“It’s not my award, it’s for all of us,” she said, including her staff members at the meeting. “It’s really for the community. There’s a huge community effort in everything we do.”

She told council about a note from author Jeff Yeager who visited the library to talk about his book, “The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Map to True Riches.”

When Yeager learned about Elizabeth Berg’s visit to Morenci, he wrote, “Why am I guessing/hoping that the Morenci public library is going to become the Woodstock-Farm-Aid of the library circuit?  You know, a venue where everyone who’s anyone must visit, despite the remote locale and compensation.

That notion sounds good to Leddy. She’s always searching for an interesting program.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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