Stair Public Library wins state award 2009.11.11

Written by David Green.

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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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