Stair Public Library wins state award 2009.11.11

Written by David Green. Posted in Feature Stories

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.

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