Library celebrates 20th anniversary in current location
Julie Herrin, library director, says the future of the library
will be the creation of knowledge rather than the curation of
The Northville Public Library hosted an open house on Sunday, Oct. 16, to celebrate the 20th anniversary at its
current location. The event featured a scavenger hunt, a magician,
face-painting and tattoos, balloon artists, crafts, and entertainment by
the Northville High School Backbeat and Treblemakers Singers.
The library is elegantly situated at 212 W. Cady
St., behind the Community Center and City Hall, and across from the Art
House. Twenty years ago, the site was green space. Some of that green
space still remains, with towering trees. The library has become a
downtown institution, with easy access for patrons and visitors.
That includes seniors who attend classes at the Community Center,
then stop at the library to check out books and music or learn how to
use the computer. Many people shop or dine downtown before or after
visiting the library. It’s a favorite for families with young children
who feast their senses on books and toys. For teens and college
students, it’s their place for doing research and homework, often with
study buddies. Business owners and professionals who need facts and
statistics before making big decisions go to the library – in person or
online – to glean information from magazines, databases and journals.
The Children’s section of the library is a popular spot.
“We like to think we are a place for continuing education for all
people,” said Julie Herrin, library director since the building opened
in 1996. “We offer self-directed learning, provide computers for people
looking for a job, and have the services and technology for digital
It’s a one-stop resource for books, music and digital
resources that stir imaginations and provide information. The physical
structure is both architecturally pleasing and artistically creative.
Well positioned windows offer views of green space and neighboring
buildings. Visitors who stand on the stairwell and look up into the
54-foot clerestory see a delightful fiber sculpture that straddles the
skylight, with mesh panels that glimmer in the sunlight.
The artwork is embellished with ancient and modern letters to
suggest information. It’s the work of artist Gerhardt Knodel, who says
his piece, “Skydance at the Western Gate,” represents the ancient Silk
Road that carried goods and ideas between China and Rome and points in
between. His art reminds visitors that when people meet, ideas grow.
Also, by exchanging information – similar to trading goods – people gain
exposure to a world beyond their own sphere.
The library serves
both the city of Northville and township, made official with a
resolution passed by voters in 1994. The subsequent increase in funding
went toward constructing a new building. In the previous years, the
library was housed in six different locations, the first being the
church that now resides at Mill Race Village and the last being the
space at City Hall that the police department occupies. A display in the
library lobby portrays the past, present and future of the library.
The library was a crown jewel for the city and township when it
opened on Oct. 6, 1996 at its current location. “It came out beautiful
and it’s still beautiful,” said Herrin. “We had cassettes then, now we
have e-books and streaming video.”
While circulation of books and
other items has dropped off – now at 500,000 annually, the downloading
of materials, such as video games, books and magazines, has soared.
Skydance at the Western Gate, designed by artist Gerhardt Knodel,
also has mesh banners flowing vertically (not pictured).
The library hosts 300 programs annually, from story times for tots to
lectures on architecture and history lessons from two World Wars.
Librarians are trained not only in traditional programs but also in the
use of technology, so they can teach others. The library offers
one-on-one computer tutoring and shows people how to use electronic
notebooks and smart phones too. There are classes on digital programs,
including how to use facebook and Skype.
What does the future
hold for the library? Based on a survey and consultant-led planning
study, there will be more places to sit, study and collaborate in the
25,000 ft2 building. There will be more resources available for
download. The WiFi at the library makes it a popular place to study or
surf the web, and that will continue.
“The Iibrary will become a
place for learning and collaboration. It is a welcoming place, where
people can get information and have people guide them in the use of that
information,” Herrin said.
“It’s the creation of knowledge
rather than the curation of knowledge that is the future of libraries,”
she added. “That means that patrons can take information from the
library and apply it to a project or collaborative effort to build or
create something that didn’t exist before.”
A Northville library
card gives the owner access to libraries at 54 cities in southeast
Michigan and in Livingston County - a network that offers reciprocal
borrowing and returning of books and other items. The library also has
partnerships with other organizations that benefit patrons, such as use
of the 3-D printer at the Village Workshop and half-off the programs it
Back to News