Secrets of the Century

by Kelly

One hundred years ago, the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library opened its doors to the community of Belding, Michigan. Paid for by Alvah Norton Belding and built in memory of his parents Hiram and Mary Belding, the library has served as a foundation for free and public education for a century.

On May 19, 2018, from 1 to 6 pm, the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library will host a Centennial Celebration in honor of this historic library and its visionary founder.

The celebration will include performances from the Belding Pops vocal group, the Belding High School Leadership Band, a dedication by the City of Belding for the City’s mural that graces the wall between the library and the Gathering Place, and a ribbon cutting and rededication of the library itself, to welcome in the next century of library service to the community.

However, I feel the most intriguing aspect of the Centennial Celebration will be the opening of our time capsule, a secret copper box that was placed within the cornerstone of the building in 1917, during the library’s construction.

What treasures from a hundred years ago does the time capsule contain? Come to the Centennial Celebration to find out! The items inside the time capsule in the cornerstone have been hidden inside the building for an entire century, just waiting to come out! I have always found this building and the history it represents to be very special, but knowing that there is a box of secret treasure inside the cornerstone gives the library a quality that is almost magical.

The time capsule will be opened for the public to view as part of the celebration ceremony, and the items will remain on display inside the library through July of 2018, when the box and its original contents will be replaced inside the cornerstone along with some new items to be kept securely hidden for the next century. New items added to the future mystery box will  include the selected winners of our essay and artwork contest, which was open to all Belding public school students.

Please plan to join us May 19 at 1:00 pm, and be part of history in the making. The library will be a showcase of history and will offer staff-led library tours, photograph displays, musical entertainment, food, and more! We look forward to bringing in a new century with you all!

 

 

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Here a Book, There a Book

by Britney

As the director of the Belding Library, one of my responsibilities is curating the library’s materials collection. That’s a fancy way of saying…

I get to pick the books.

So, that stack of books you just walked out of the library with? The best seller, the quirky YA, the picture book for your kiddo, the manual to help you build your new bird feeder? Those were selections that I made, with the hopes that people would check them out and enjoy them, and justify the dollars I spent on them from an extremely limited budget.

No pressure or anything, right? If no one wants to check out the books I buy for the library, not only am I fully responsible for wasting the library’s resources, but I’ve let my patrons down by not providing them with materials they deem valuable. Therefore, I take my collection development job very seriously.

But I’m also a Book Lover, with a capital B.L. And as such, I want to buy all the books.  All of them, I say! But, as painful as it is for me to admit it, that’s simply not financially feasible. Sadly, heartbreakingly, the library does not have unlimited funding. In fact, because of some other financial obligations the library has, our materials budget is one of the smallest allotments we have. So every single dollar counts.

Recently, I had a friend ask me how I decide which books to purchase for the library. And the answer to this question is: very carefully.

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One of the biggest factors in building a collection that circulates well is knowing my population, and which types of books they like. I spend a lot of time looking at the books our patrons check out, and becoming familiar with what their interests are – at all ages and reading levels. I mean, there’s no point in me buying a book no one is going to read.

After that, I choose books that are entertaining, are good for creating discussion, are thought-provoking, and are bona fide must-reads. And every now and then, I get specific purchase requests from patrons for books, and try very hard to accommodate these requests.

One thing that makes my book-choosing job easier is talking to my patrons. The more I talk to people about books, the better idea I get about what they like to read, and what they want to see in the library. And on top of that, I just plain like to talk about books! So if you’re in the library and see me, chat me up about what you’re reading – I’d love to hear what you have to say, and I’d love to hear your recommendations!

At the library, we’re in the business of patrons and books – and if the two can compliment one another, all the better.

Happy reading!

 

 

The Right Book

by Stefanie

When I was growing up, it was just a given that my brother and I would be readers. My mom took us to the library once a week and set us loose in the stacks. I can’t think of a time when I ever questioned how much fun it is to read, or ever felt like reading was something I had to be coerced into doing.

Okay, maybe that’s not true. I was reading for fun at home. The books we were assigned to read in class – those were a different story. Particularly in high school and college, while I might have enjoyed some of the assigned novels to a certain extent, there just isn’t as much joy in reading The Great Gatsby or War & Peace for a grade. And I was an English major. I CHOSE to have reading assigned to me.

There’s just something extra special about getting to choose the books yourself, about coming to reading on your own terms.

 

One of the difficult and controversial aspects of working with children as a librarian is helping them locate books that are both appropriate and interesting for them. The controversy lies in those situations when the books a child is interested in might be considered by a parent of teacher to be inappropriate for them.

There are multiple reasons this could happen. One reason is based on reading levels. As kids are learning how to read and are growing as readers, their reading “level” grows with them. This level helps guide the child and their parents to books that will challenge them without pushing them too hard. This is certainly valuable from an educational standpoint. But as a librarian, I’m a little biased against reading levels. They are definitely a valuable resource, but they can also be relied on too heavily. If a kid wants to try to read a book that’s past their current skill level, what’s the worst thing that will happen? If it’s for a school assignment, it might not fit with the expectation for their class, and if it isn’t, they might attempt it and realize they’re not ready for it. But what’s the harm in trying? So many of the best experiences in life come from thinking outside the box everyone once in a while.

Another reason is the possible inappropriateness of the book’s content. This is slightly more complicated. As a parent myself, I fully understand and appreciate why a parent might choose to keep their child from reading books that contain certain themes or content that’s a little too “adult.” It’s up to every parent to make this decision for their families.

 

 

But as a librarian who was once a kid, I remember how magical it felt to be able to select my own books from the shelves and check them out without my mom second-guessing them. I’m sure if I had grabbed anything truly well beyond what I should be reading, she would have stepped in. And I’m also sure I was just wary enough of her reaction that I wouldn’t have pushed my luck too far. But this way, the library books I checked out got to be MY thing. I got to control it, and having a sense of agency is so important and so valuable for a child.

 

Many parents come to the library trying to figure out the conundrum of their child’s reading preferences, feeling totally overwhelmed. I would never suggest there’s an easy solution to this challenge, because there are as many reading challenges as there are children. However, as we try to get kids reading by rewarding them for doing it, I suggest taking a slightly different view of things. Instead of rewarding them for reading, make reading the reward. Let them pick out books of their own choice no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched them seem. Let them push boundaries a little bit. Maybe even let them think they’re getting away with reading by flashlight under the covers after bedtime. Give them a chance to make reading their extra special thing. And demonstrate how special it is by rewarding yourself with reading, as well. Show them how much you relish your time to just sit down and relax with a book, and maybe they’ll learn to do the same.

 

Behind the Name

by Kelly

The Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library celebrates its centennial anniversary in May of 2018, an event that surely factored into my decision to join the ANBL team last last year. As a historian, I always jump at the opportunity to be a part of something that not only will become part of history, but is also history itself. The Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library is no exception.

As a member of the planning committee for the library’s Centennial Celebration, my recent duty has been to gather history of both the library and the man whose name adorns the building.

Just who was Alvah N. Belding, anyway, and why did he build a library here?

I found answers to these questions in the many resources available here at the library, including published histories, newspaper archives, photographs, and paper files. Most of the information detailed here can be referenced in the publication Belding Bros. & Co., 1863-1913.

Alvah N. Belding was born in 1838 in Ashfield, Massachusetts, to Hiram and Mary Belding. He was the youngest of four boys, all of whom possessed an adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit.

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In 1855, Alvah Belding traveled with his father to Michigan, where he cleared land for his father’s farm, and helped build the dam which furnished water-power for the Patterson Saw Mill. In those days, Belding was called “Patterson’s Mill,” not taking on the name of “Belding” until 1871, after Hiram Belding purchased a great deal of land from Levi Broas, the original pioneer of the area. (The section of land Belding purchased from Broas was the area north of Liberty and east of Broas streets.)

The Belding brothers’ entrepreneurship led them to manufacture and sell silk, beginning as a partnership in 1857, then establishing the Belding Brothers & Company in 1863. The brothers sold silk across many states, and were regarded as fair and decent businessmen who employed many, and treated their workers with the utmost respect.

Business aside, the Belding brothers exhibited a great many values, including community pride, family togetherness, and belief in the importance of education. Because of their dedication to education, Alvah Belding and his brother Milo each gifted money for the establishment of a public library. Alvah’s library was in their adopted hometown of Belding, Michigan; Milo’s library was in their original hometown of Ashfield, Massachusetts.

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This year marks the one-hundredth year of the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library. A Centennial Celebration is currently being planned for May 19, 2018, from 1pm to 6pm. We invite the community of Belding and any others who wish to attend and share in our gratitude for Alvah N. Belding and his commitment to the future of the city which bears his name.

 

Panic! At the Library

by Britney

Hello to all of you out there in Reader Land. (Waves enthusiastically.) Today’s post is for you!

I am a series reader. Though I enjoy single titles, and admire authors who can tell a tale from start to finish and contain it within the confines of a front and back cover, I prefer multi-volumes. When I read a story I really enjoy that has characters I like, I am always glad to get to spend more time with them in subsequent installments. I also like the additional glimpses I get into different worlds, cultures, and times. After all, if J.R.R. Tolkien had stopped writing after The Hobbit, I would have thought Middle Earth consisted only of The Shire and the Misty Mountains, and I never would have gotten to meet the Rohirrim, or seen the White City. See what  mean?

However, I must admit to a short-lived moment of sheer panic when I read the last word of the last book in series. Ahhh! What am I going to read now??? What if I don’t like it??? What if it’s not as good as the books I just read??? But I want something EXACTLY LIKE what I just finished!!!

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This is where I force myself to take a deep breath, and I assure myself that everything will be ok. I will find another book. I will discover new, awesome characters. I will traverse another imaginary land in search of action and adventure.

Now, be honest. How many of you out there experience this same sense of dread when you finish a book? Perhaps you look over at your TBR pile to find it has grown claws and threatens to crush you if you don’t pick a book to read immediately. The PRESSURE! Time is a valuable commodity, and you don’t have any to waste on a book you don’t like.

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Never fear. I’m here to help.

Did you know librarians are trained in something called “reader’s advisory?” Reader’s advisory involves us talking to people about a wide variety of things in an effort to pair them with their next “perfect read.” Here are some things we may ask you:

*What are some of the TV shows you like to watch?

*What types of music do you listen to?

*What do you do in your free time?

*Which books have you enjoyed in the past?

*What were your favorite books when you were a kid?

*Which books have you read that you disliked?

*Are you a history buff? Are you interested in space? Animals? Travel?

*Do you like to listen to things while you work/exercise/study?

If you think some of these questions have nothing to do with reading, you’d be right. But they all help give us information that will allow us to learn your interests, and your likes and dislikes, to help us help you find a great book. Books aren’t just about reading; they’re about experiencing all that book has to offer. And that is a multi-faceted process.

So next time you close the cover on a book you’ve just finished, don’t panic. Rather, look at it as a challenge. And then let us at the library be your book warriors and help you attack the Next Book Wilderness!

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What Can the Library Do for Teens?

by Stefanie

I’ve been a library nerd my whole life, since well before “nerd” and “geek” became proud terms that we  nerds reclaimed from those people who might use them against us. I was raised by a library nerd. It’s in our blood, and is definitely why I’m working at the library today, writing this particular post.

The more recent evolution of the public library, from book repository into community resource and meeting place, has been an unexpected bonus. I could not have predicted all the services our public libraries would add (or what the next several decades will bring), but for me, that transition has transformed me from a library lover to a librarian, and transformed the library itself from hobby to career. I know I’m not alone in that feeling. Libraries were always cool, but now they are filled with librarians who spend their time thinking, “Yeah, we’ve done lots of cool things already, but what ELSE can we do?”

That brings me to our teens.

We are lucky to live in an area where the high school provides a ton of after-school activities for its students. Teens can be involved in sports, drama, robotics, and all kinds of other clubs catering to their interests after school is over. But it is still our goal as a library to be a resource and meeting place for teens (and tweens) as much as for adults and children. So we look for gaps that we can fill, services and other things we can offer to teens they might not be able to get from them middle or high schools.

We try to fill these gaps in one of two ways. First, we do our research. We look around at programs that other libraries are doing, programs that seem like they would be appealing to people who have attended our programs before, or just ones that are plain fun (Dungeons & Dragons, anyone?).

Second, and far more important, we get out there and ask our teens and tweens what they want to do. We ask them at our existing programs, when they come in to the library, and, when we can manage it, at school directly (after all, we want to find kids who wouldn’t already be coming into the library, as well). We can create programs until we can’t think of a single other thing to do, but it won’t matter if we’re not going directly to our teens and getting their opinions. We’re here for you, so who better than you to tell us what it is you’re looking for?

By that same token, we want to expand the materials we have for check-out for teens and tweens, as well. I love young adult and middle grade (who doesn’t?), and as both these areas become more dynamic, we try to do the same with our collection. This means keeping up with the books you want to read, as well as adding to our teen non-fiction. Non-fiction is all about providing materials on subjects you’re actually interested in. Our collection should feel inclusive, and should make clear to our whole community that all of us are important and valued.

Our goal in the coming months is to get a Teen Advisory Board up and running. This would be a group that meets monthly to put together and give feedback on programs, help us make decisions, maybe get exclusive access to new books before everyone else, and eat snacks (the snacks are very important). Teens who participate in the TAB group can get volunteer credit for coming, as well as get to pick the programs we do. How awesome is that?

If you’re interested in being a part of this group, please let us know!

And above all, talk to us. If there’s a program you want us to do, tell us. If there is a book or author or even topic you want included on our shelves, tell us. That’s what we’re here for!

Our next teen program is our No-Fish Sushi Making program at 3:00pm on Thursday, March 22. Drop in and join us. Or even drop in to tell us what else you’d like to be doing! We can’t wait to hear from you!

Seed “Library”

by Kelly

As the Adult Services Coordinator for ANBL I spend my days planning enjoyable, unique, and informative programs and providing a variety of resources for the Library’s 18-and-older community. From playing bingo with our Seniors during our monthly “Senior Social” program to teaching family history research, and planning the Library’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, my job is full of fun tasks and interesting people.

Despite being a century old, the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library is anything but dry and boring. Library staff members are constantly thinking up fresh ways to deliver materials and programs to the community that are progressive and non-conventional by “traditional” library standards.

One of these “non-traditional” library collections we are excited to bring to the community in the spring of 2018 is our Seed Library. A seed library is exactly what it sounds like – a collection of vegetable, flower, and herb seeds that patrons can check out for free, and take home to plant in their own gardens.

With the help of the Community Seed Resource Program at Seed Savers Exchange and a local patron gardener, the library has a nice start-up kit of vegetables and herbs to offer patrons beginning this spring.

In anticipation of the ANBL Seed Library, we are hosting a “Starting Seeds” program on Monday, February 19 at 6:00pm at the library, where participants can learn about starting seeds, discover potting soil recipes for optimal growth, and even take with them  seed samples to start at home.

Seed libraries are popping up all over the country, and offer library-users and their communities a place to store, share, and learn about this non-traditional library resource. And then, at the end of the growing season, library gardeners can choose to give back to the seed library by donating seeds from their own harvested crops, or by leaving a review or growing tips for the following season.

We love to see our library patrons learn and “grow.” Look for the ANBL Seed Library to start circulating early this spring, and keep an eye on the adult program calendar for a complete listing of programs and events.

Happy planting!