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Library Match: Crown Point and Marquette

Two of our member public libraries located in the northern most regions of each state have been paired up for the “Library Match” project. The Crown Point Community Library in Crown Point, Indiana and the Peter White Public Library in Marquette, Michigan have been paired up to participate in the pilot project “Library Match.” For the next several months, they will participate in activities together using video-conferencing equipment generously underwritten by the H.W. Wilson Foundation.

What makes them a match?

Crown Point Community Library

The Crown Point Community Library, led by Director Selina Gomez-Beloz is located in Crown Point, Indiana and serves a population of about 42,000 with 43 people on staff. The Library’s budget is approximately $1.7 million. Crown Point is the county seat of Lake County in the Northwest corner of the state known as “The Region” for its proximity to Chicago. The Lake Michigan shoreline is a major attraction in Lake County and includes the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Peter White Public Library

The Peter White Public Library, led by Director Pamela Christensen, is located in Marquette, Michigan and serves a population of about 36,000. The Library staff includes 12 full-time staff and 26 part-time staff. The Library’s budget is approximately $1.9 million. Marquette is located in the upper peninsula of Michigan, and is the largest city in the region. Marquette is home to Northern Michigan University, and a regional medical center. It is a year-round outdoor playground for residents and tourists alike, and has an identity that is closely tied to natural resources, including its proximity to Lake Superior.

What Initiatives do they have to share with their peer library?

Crown Point Community Library

The Crown Point Community Library wants to share information about their community outreach efforts. Director Selina Gomez-Beloz says, “Local summer fairs and farmer’s market booths have been successful, and we purchased a new canopy just for this type of activity.” She says their community led chess program is also very popular. “We had to split the group into teen/adult and youth because we had so many participants.” The Crown Point Community Library hopes to soon have space for a new branch library that will provide increased space, a new meeting room, and more programs for a growing community. Gomez-Beloz says, “It won’t open until next year at a date to be determined, but we are very excited about the possibilities.”

Peter White Public Library

The Peter White Public Library hopes to share some of their programming successes. Assistant Library Director, Bruce MacDonald says, “The library is active in the Prime Time Family Reading program, which targets at-risk children to increase literacy through storytelling and discussion, and aims to foster a love of reading. Pet Partners is another youth literacy program, where children read to a friendly certified therapy dog to increase confidence in their reading skills. These are in addition to a number of other youth programs involving literacy, arts, crafts, and hobbies.”

The library also hopes to share information about how they provide learning opportunities to adult patrons. “We have been successful coordinating learning series on various topics,” says MacDonald. “Our staff does a great job using the limited resources at hand by partnering with outside individuals and organizations in the community. This allows for various programs, discussion series, documentary viewings, and other opportunities. Series topics have included personal finance, understanding other cultures, the environment, and mental health. It’s not always serious topics, as we host events like the local blues society concerts, and many other music programs. We are able to get a lot of press for our events, due to a healthy relationship with the local media.”

According to MacDonald, “Place-making is an important aspect of living in a smaller community. Our library has played a role in the identity of the community. Opening a discussion with Crown Point Community Library about the library role as a ‘third place’, seeing where each library has had successes, would probably be beneficial to both libraries.

What do they hope to learn from their peer library?

Crown Point Community Library

According to Gomez-Beloz, the Crown Point Community Library is looking to their peer for creative new programming ideas. They are also interested in ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and would like to have discussions about methods for providing services in and out of the library.

Peter White Public Library

MacDonald says, “From Crown Point Community Library, we would like to learn how they came up with and implemented some of their outreach programs. They set up a tent at their farmer’s market, and did some other outreach activities this summer. Crown Point has a busy friends group, so how do they go about engaging them? I think we could also gain something by comparing and contrasting our experiences in serving as a community center for our patrons. Also, like our library, Crown Point has historical collections, but has more digitized local content. How do they curate those collections, and how did they obtain their digitized content, such as local high school yearbooks? We are also interested to learn about their organizational structure and business workflow, their circulation of materials, how they manage the kitchen they offer, how they handle monetary issues and fundraising, and any other topics that come up once the discussion begins.”

Watch for updates from the libraries as they connect and learn from each other over the next several months.

For more information about the MCLS’ “Library Match” pilot project, visit our Library Match Page.