New Growth

by Kelly

Gardening is for everyone. Even for those of us born without a green thumb. Last year, when Covid-19 shut the country down, the Alvah N. Belding Library seed library distributed seeds to hundreds of individuals. At that time, I decided to try my hand at gardening. Although I had very little knowledge of starting plants from seed, I decided that quarantine was the perfect time to try something new, so I gave it a go.

To my surprise, the seeds I planted soon began to sprout. I put them in a nice, sunny window, tended to their need for water, and watched them become little stalks of life. I chose to plant seeds for vegetable, fruit, herb, and flowers that I knew I would enjoy, which included tomatoes, watermelon, basil, and daisies.

Around Memorial Day weekend, it was time to get my small plants into a bigger growing space. Living in the city, and in a rental unit, I didn’t have access to dig into the ground, so I improvised with plastic totes and other plant pots to get the job done.

The flowers that I planted bloomed throughout the summer, the herbs I grew were cut for several summer night bbq’s, and the fruit and vegetables I planted gave me a couple of delicious meals. The satisfaction that I felt, knowing how I had started them from seed, was a great feeling.

The moral of the story is that if I can do it, anyone can. The Alvah N. Belding Library’s Seed Library is open for service. We offer FREE seeds for anyone with a valid library card to check out. NEW this year are seed kits, which offer 3-4 different types of seeds that, when harvested, can be combined to make a complete dish. The best time for starting seeds indoors in Michigan is late March to early April.

Give it a try! The seeds can be ordered online through this link to be picked up at the library. For more information about plants and gardening, check out the library catalog for a list of titles, or check out our Pinterest page for gardening book suggestions.

New, But Not

by Miss Julia

Hello to all!

My name is Julia or Miss Julia to all the kids here. I’m still new around here – as a librarian at the Belding Library, that is. But I’ve been coming to this library as a patron since I was a child myself, and now I work daily in the same magical building. When I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a librarian. It’s been a journey of finding my perfect fit, but here I am, the Children’s Librarian Assistant at the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library and loving every moment of it.

When I am out and about and meet someone new, they usually ask where I work. After I tell them, they seem shocked and usually say, “Isn’t that boring?? Who even uses the library anymore?”. I go ahead in explaining that a library isn’t just books – which, even if it was, that would still be fantastic!  The library is constantly changing to meet the needs of the community, so how could it be boring? Once I talk about the nerf battles, board games, and DVDs you can check out, also including the wide assortment of programs we host, they are way more excited and ask when they can attend a program. I think their initial reactions also have to do with the fact that I am a known extrovert – which, in case you’re wondering, the stereotype of librarians being “old and quiet” is very wrong! I’m quite the talker.

I cannot wait to see you around the library soon. I am still working hard at preparing fun programs for the summer. Summer Reading 2020, here we come! We currently are hosting a poetry contest for youth in 3rd-12th grade as well, which is running until April 25th. To see more information, go to our Facebook Page, or email me. I’d love to chat with you and get to know more about what you’d like to see at the library. You can get in contact with me anytime by emailing I love ideas of all sorts!

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!





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.


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.


Belding Library Ashfield



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.


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!

Meet Kelly

by Kelly

Family history and genealogy research has been a passion of mine for many years. I am thrilled that my new role here at Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library allows me to bring this passion to the public during monthly meetings of the newly formed “Silk City Genealogy Interest Group (GIG)”.

As a “teacher” of genealogy for the past four years, I repeatedly preach to those willing to listen to me, the importance of seeking out records and information from places where your ancestor lived. Small places such as libraries, historical societies, and museums, whose collections do not always make it to the internet, but likely contain gold nuggets of information that cannot be found elsewhere.

Taking my own advice, and desperately wanting to register my husband as a Son of the American Revolution, I immediately poured through the holdings of the library’s local history collection on my first day of work. Knowing that my husband’s family settled in Ionia county for a length of time, I was hoping to make a connection beyond his third-great-grandfather that would tie his family into Abial Worden, a Private from Connecticut who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Using online resources, I could not make the connection I needed to advance the male Worden line and prove the parentage of Pardon Worden, Sr. (my husband’s fifth-great-grandfather) as Abial Worden, though that is where my assumption leads me. However, genealogy is based on proof, not assumptions, so I needed something more.

To my delight, I came across a rather large collection of local family histories on the shelves of the Belding library. Family histories are a great resource! Researched and compiled by family members with personal knowledge of that family and its history, I struck gold. On the shelf were two volumes of the genealogy of Pardon Worden, Sr. and Pardon Worden, Jr., compiled by different authors, but containing the same information.

These books were researched and compiled thirty years prior, and have been safely kept in the library, just waiting for someone like myself to come along. Both volumes are full of careful research, loaded with names and dates and places that I can use to further my research, including one important name listed in generation seven: Abial Worden, a direct ancestor of my husband.  I am still jumping for joy!

I still have much research to do, but my suspicions have been confirmed, and I now have dates and place names to help me on my way. As an added bonus, these books also contained many family photographs, including that of Pardon Worden, Jr., whom I have never seen.

Do you have ancestors from Ionia County? If you do, the library just might have the hidden gem you need to move your research forward.

I would love to help you research your family tree and teach you the finer points of genealogy the first Friday of each month at 10 a.m. at the new GIG. The first meeting is October 6. All meetings are open to the public and for all levels of researchers. I can’t wait to help you catch the genealogy bug.

Meet Stefanie

by Stefanie

As Britney mentioned in a previous post (here), there are several new faces at the Alvah N. Belding Library these days. I’m one of them. My name is Stefanie Reed, and I am the new Youth and Teen Librarian. So those of you who have kids or teens, or ARE kids or teens — you are likely to see me around a lot. I’ll be in the children’s area, giving story times and playing with Legos. And I’ll be in the teen section, coming up with crafts, brainstorming ideas for our new MakerSpace kits, or trying to resist the urge to check out every single new Young Adult novel that sounds awesome (which is most of them). Either way, I’m going to look really excited to be here.

I took the scenic route to becoming a librarian.

For a long time, I kept coming up with ideas that coincided with things I love but still didn’t quite fit. I wanted to be a teacher, but the classroom didn’t quite suit me. I majored in history, but only because I loved reading up on it. I wanted to write fiction (and still do), so I got my MFA in fiction writing, though it took me a while to find my voice. It was only after I finished that master’s degree, after I had a job writing training materials for software, that I had my “oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of this before?” moment. I then immediately enrolled in ANOTHER master’s program, this time in Library Science.

That’s when all the pieces clicked into place. I plugged away at the degree online, studying around my full time work schedule. I took courses on services and books for children and teens and thought, “Yes, this right here is my favorite thing.” Then at the end of my coursework, I spent a few months working in the teen department at my local library.

It was the coolest thing I had ever gotten to be a part of. I just knew I had made the right choice.

I am so excited to be the new librarian here, and about finding new ways to reach out to the infant through young adult patrons here, as well create new patrons out of as many Belding kids as possible. I’m looking forward to sharing my love of reading children’s, middle grade and YA books with the kids (and adults) of our community, as well as all the
other fun things we can enjoy together. This could include making whatever we can think of, from artwork to knitted scarves to robots. Or playing games, from Trivial Pursuit to Apples to Apples to Dungeons and Dragons. This could include any number of things that neither of us has thought of yet, but once we do… it’s going to be awesome, creative and fun for everyone. I’m excited to meet and get to know all of you. Please feel free to track me down with your program, club, or book ideas. I want to make this a children’s and teen space that belongs to all of us.

And in case you were wondering, here is a list of a few of my favorite children’s, middle grade and YA:

519by0nhlml-_sx331_bo1204203200_Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
418xpelsrrl-_sx332_bo1204203200_Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
61dbwxuoknl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
51rkaehccyl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
51fzgmsrnrl-_sx375_bo1204203200_The Arrival by Shaun Tan
61quopxsoul-_sx409_bo1204203200_Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
51qkj6eijfl-_sx452_bo1204203200_Robot Zombie Frankenstein! By Annette Simon
615eizrnrel-_sy498_bo1204203200_Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henke
51fxrxgd5bl-_sx310_bo1204203200_The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
51fwqbmjbvl-_sx334_bo1204203200_The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
51h0sd99b8l-_sx330_bo1204203200_Rules for Ghosting by A.J. Paquette
51gkt9arrll-_sx328_bo1204203200_Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
51maszxex8l-_sx317_bo1204203200_Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
512grttuoll-_sx342_bo1204203200_The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
61yixfnlvxl-_sx319_bo1204203200_Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
515ot2b3tanl-_sx338_bo1204203200_There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar
Pretty much anything by Louis Sachar

Nature’s First Green is Gold

by Britney

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the turn from hot to cool (and with it, tuck away my shorts and tank tops and pull out my jeans and sweaters), feel an intense desire to be outside, and happily spend yet another season a devoted subject of the Pumpkin King. (I don’t even mind raking leaves.)  Autumn is more than just a season to me; it is a feeling deep in my soul.

tyler fallOne of my favorite memories of the time I spent living in New York was being there during Halloween, and taking my son on an adventure to Sleepy Hollow (yes, it’s a real place) to poke around the town, its historic sites, and, at the end of the day, experience Horseman’s Hollow, a haunted house experience terrifying in a way only Halloween in Sleepy Hollow can be.  It was low 60s and overcast with a little bit of a breeze; the type of day you can wear your boots, a sweater, and a scarf without looking ridiculous, and can drink mulled cider with a cinnamon stick and not look pretentious.  The village was quaint and oozed nostalgia, and it seemed like every step we took brought us one step closer to meeting Katrina VanTassel, Ichabod Crane, and the Headless Horseman.  That day is one of those crystalline moments in time that shines in a way that makes most other days look dull.

It’s long been said that autumn is a season of change.  Here, at the Library, we’re experiencing that firsthand.  We’re looking at several “changes” here.  Some of them are exciting, some of them are bittersweet, but all of them are opportunities for the Library to expand and grow.

If you’re a regular at the Library, you’ve no doubt noticed quite a few new faces.  Sadly, we’ve had to say goodbye to some staff members, as they left us to take embark on fantastic new adventures.  We will miss them, their contributions to the Library, and the strengths they brought to our team here, but we wish them all the best and know they’ll be outstanding in their new positions.  The individuals who have recently joined Team Library are enthusiastic, energetic, and have their own strengths and areas of expertise that we know will be great assets to the Library.  Additionally, one of our Library Cornerstones has retired, and we will miss her dearly with our collective Library heart.

One of the characteristics of change is the necessity of looking forward.  So, in light of greeting the future with positivity and excitement, here are some of the things we’re looking forward to this fall:

  • New Services – We are rolling out several new things this fall.  These include things for all ages.  Some of our new offerings are services-related, some are programming-related, and some are collection-related.  Here’s just a small sampling:
    • For Adults: Passport Packs – These kits are subject-based, and contain several types of materials (books, music CDs, DVDs).  Kindles – We will be adding three more Kindles (Inspirational, Romance, and Christmas).  Services – We will be offering notary services.  Programming – We will be offering regular adult programming year-round.  Board Games – We will be circulating an entire collection of board games.  Additionally, we will be offering specialty Programming for Seniors the second Tuesday of each month.
    • For Teens: MakerSpace Kits – These boxes will include electronics kits, levers and magnetics kits, and Busy Boxes. These boxes will be in the Teen area, and will be available for Teens to use while in the Library.  ProgrammingWe will be offering regular and specialty Teen programming, and hope that our Teens think of the Library as “their” place.  Board Games – We will be circulating an entire collection of board games.
    • For Kids: LaunchPads – These pre-loaded tablets are age-appropriate, and are full of fun learning games!  Discovery Packs – We have fifteen brand new packs on a variety of subjects and with a variety of materials.

So, as we go forward into a new season and a new chapter at the Library, we look backward with appreciation at what we’ve accomplished and those who helped us do so, and we look forward with anticipation at where our Library adventures will take us.

Old, and Timey-Wimey

by Melody

Is this an old and timey-wimey library? (Yes, I just made a Doctor Who reference…)  Afraid not!  Okay, well… it is an OLD library in that it will celebrate its centennial birthday next year and that it’s a registered historical landmark.

Here are some quick facts about the history of the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library:

  1. Belding’s first public library was started in 1890 by the Ladies Literary Club.
  2. The Library has moved to several locations over the years.  It was first in a room above a store on West Main Street.  However, due to a fire in 1893, the Library was initially destroyed.  It moved locations two more times after that – to Connell’s Drug Store, and then, later, to City Hall.
  3. In 1914, local businessman Byron Brown suggested to Alvah N. Belding that he finance the building of a new Belding City library.
  4. Construction began on a new Library building in April 1917, and upon Mr. Belding’s insistence, only the best available materials were used for the project: Indiana Bedford cut limestone for the exterior, Spanist tiles for the roof, Vermont Verde antique marble for the interior, etc.  The cost to build the Library was $50,000.
  5. On May 14, 1918, Alvah N. Belding presented the library to the City of Belding in memory of his parents, Hiriam and Mary Wilson Belding.
  6. The Library is the only building in Belding, built by the Belding family, that is still being used for its original purpose

So, in historical terms, yes, the Library is old.  BUT, that doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the Stone Age.

The Library has literally exploded on the digital scene.  You’ll find us on Faccebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.  And, obviously, on this blog you’re reading.  Not to mention that the Library provides pre-loaded Kindles for check out, full of great books.  We also participate in OverDrive, which allows you to borrow books on your personal reading device, and in Zinio, which gives you access to hundreds of digital magazines – all using your library card!  We have laptops available for in-library use, and public computers for both adults and kids.  And starting this fall, we will have Launchpads – educational tablets pre-loaded with games and apps – for the kiddos to check out!  If reading isn’t particularly your thing, we have so much more to provide – bird watching kits, coloring kits, programs, book sales…  (And this fall we will be rolling out amazing new offerings and services.)

Seriously, it’s worth it to come inside the building and check it out.

Trust me, I’m The Doctor.  (Always wanted to say that.)