2006-08-19 / News

Library Hosts Authors, Children's Programs for Community

By Bernie Nguyen

Tara Buesing, with her daughter, Lauryn, and son, Mason, spend a quiet afternoon at the Mackinac Island Public Library. The Buesings, from Bristol, Wisconsin, come to the Island every year and always make a point to spend some time at the library. Tara Buesing, with her daughter, Lauryn, and son, Mason, spend a quiet afternoon at the Mackinac Island Public Library. The Buesings, from Bristol, Wisconsin, come to the Island every year and always make a point to spend some time at the library. The Mackinac Island Public Library, established in 1936, serves Mackinac Island's residents and numerous visitors. Its current building, dedicated in 1992, houses a collection of close to 13,000 books, videos, audio books, and magazines, says librarian Anne St. Onge.

The juvenile section, which includes preschool picture books and young adult literature, is kept well-stocked by the library's subscription to the Junior Library Guild, a service that reviews books and helps librarians make selections based on levels of reading ability. Ms. St. Onge said that the books she selects from the organization have all been excellent additions to the library's juvenile collection.

"It's a help, because you only have so much time in the day to do research," she said. "We have a really great children's section. It's a very trusted company," she said of the Library Guild.

As for the other books, the library belongs to two book leasing companies, McNaughton and Baker & Taylor. Ms. St. Onge chooses books from the catalogs she receives and the company sends them to her to be circulated on a temporary basis.

By using a leasing service, Ms. St. Onge said it is much easier to keep the shelves stocked only with books that she knows will interest patrons, and the leasing circulation helps her keep the collection recent.

"If you bought every book, you would run out of space very quickly," she said. "This way, I can send back books that aren't very popular."

With both services, she added, the companies allow the library to keep one book permanently for every five returned. Both McNaughton and Baker & Taylor supply fiction and nonfiction books.

The library's most popular section is the adult fiction collection, Ms. St. Onge said. In the non-fiction section, how-to books and informational guides about animals and hobbies are also in frequent circulation.

"Our cookbook section is very popular," Ms. St. Onge said, as are biographies. During spring and fall, audio books get a boost in popularity because they are seasons when many of the library's patrons travel.

When choosing what books to acquire for the collection, Ms. St. Onge said she keeps her patrons in mind.

"People who come in the library shouldn't be able to tell what the librarian's taste is," she said. "It's almost like the library has a rhythm, by what the patrons want. After awhile, you get to know that rhythm, and once in a while you sneak something new in there."

The library is funded by a city appropriation, penal fine disbursements from Circuit Court, state grants, and donations. It also receives revenue from overdue fines and book sales.

An ongoing book sale can be found in the back of the library, and each year during the Lilac Festival, the library dedicates a full day to a used book sale.

Non-resident library card fees also support the library, with between 90 and 100 nonresident cards registered each year, mostly by summer workers.

"Considering how busy workers are, I think its amazing that we get that many," she said. "They still make time to read, which is great."

The Mackinac Island Public Library is a member of the Hiawathaland Library Cooperative, which is an organization of municipal and school libraries in the four counties comprising the Eastern Upper Peninsula. The cooperative, Ms. St. Onge said, provides workshops and programs and helped to fund the library's summer reading program, Paws, Claws, Scales, and Tales, a state-wide library program.

In her selection of summer programs for the library, Ms. St. Onge said that she likes to keep her audience in mind.

"For the programs geared toward children," she said, "I try to make them informational and fun, to inspire them to learn more."

This year the library has hosted a wildlife program and a magician, attracting such programs by coordinating with other nearby libraries, like the St. Ignace Public Library.

Adult programs at the library are also an important part of its role in the community, Ms. St. Onge said. By bringing in authors and informational speakers, the library can keep its patrons informed and interested, as well as more involved in the library's activities.

"We've been fortunate that we've been able to have a lot of local people come and speak," Ms. St. Onge said, "and a lot of support from our library board."

This year's Summer Author Series has featured the Reverend Vincent Carroll of Little Stone Church and poet Susan Firer and will welcome mystery writer Elizabeth George this month.

As for community response, Ms. St. Onge said that the library is more than just a place for books.

"I think we help provide cultural enrichment," she said.

In addition to its role as library, the building is also a destination for visitors to the Island who are attracted to its tranquility and lovely view.

"I'm amazed that year after year, I get families in here who will come in with their children and spend an hour or two," she said. "There are workers who might have a

split shift and spend their time here. They just come in and enjoy the facility."

The Mackinac Island Public Library is open yeararound, Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. In the summer, it has evening hours on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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