If I say the word library, you probably think of a place to get books…logical enough. But think broader. Libraries today are working to become more than a trove of treasured books… they want to be full fledged community centers.Case in point, the Charlevoix Public Library.
The inside of the Charlevoix library is spacious and well-lit. As you’d imagine, there are rows and rows of books. As you might not imagine, there are also aspiring Latin dancers.
This is one of the community programs offered by the library. They brought in all kinds of programs; things like computer training, special programs for Sr. Citizens, and now Salsa! Jim and Jane Kanine hit the floor for the first class. She says things are going ok…
“Pretty well. Pretty well. We haven’t had our feet stepped on yet, so. (amy) That’s progress? That’s progress. If we could get him to move his hips a little bit, I think he’d have a lot more fun. (Amy) How are you about this hip-moving thing? I can’t move my hips. (laughter) Nothing moves, it’s all just fused together.”
Ok, so they’re not ready for “Dancing with the Stars”.
(Amy) You are definitely in a minority here. We have five-men to ten-women. Yeah and I’m something else besides a minority, I’m a disaster!”
These are not the sounds you’re used to hearing in a library, but then this isn’t your grandma’s library.
“It’s different. Libraries are different.”
Linda Adams is Program Coordinator for the library.
“It’s a busy place”
She says the library hosts as many as 50 programs every month. For youth they offer things like Reading to dogs and night time story time. And for adults, they’ve held a French conversation circle, an investment group and a program on creative aging. The library also has what Adams describes as “a slew of computer classes” and free internet
“And for areas like this, where we’re a rural area and internet access is hard to come by and expensive. It provides a tremendous service. We log in 3,000-4,000 people a month on our public computers.”
The Charlevoix library is housed in an old school building. two-years ago it was renovated for library use. The project cost 8-point-4-million dollars. The look is all new, but this old building holds a lot of memories for people.
“The kindergarten room had a fish pond which was a really big attraction” (laughs)
Sandy Marquart is a library user and volunteer. That old fish pond is now the periodical room. The old gymnasium is an adult reading room. Marquart says she loves what they’ve done with the place.
“It’s so vibrant!”
Marquart says it’s great that this library is attracting so many young readers.
“We have children who come in after school, middle schoolers especially, and they have, there’s a room down here for kids age 13-18 I think it is. They’re very active in there with the computers and they’re in the computer lab and some of them actually study! (laughs)
Ultimately the library is hoping to attract more young readers… and more older readers… and even more Latin dancers. As they position themselves as a community center for the future.