PLDL, Hancock school libraries get hooked up

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Jenn Sams of Hancock reads Saturday to her 18-month-son, Theo, at the Hancock School Public Library.

HANCOCK — Coming up to the counter with books in tow, Janet Oyler of Hancock liked what she’d seen of the revamped Hancock School Public Library.

“I pick up my grandson frequently, so now I might stop in,” she said Saturday.

The library held an open house and book sale Friday and Saturday to showcase the changes made under the Portage Lake District Library, which assumed management of the library in November. Proceeds from the book sale will go towards purchasing new books for the library.

Under the three-year agreement, the PLDL will provide staffing and materials, access to library databases, interlibrary loan and programming.

Discussions began sometime last summer, when Hancock Schools Superintendent Kipp Beaudoin reached out to the library to find ways to improve services at the library, said PLDL director Dillon Geshel.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Seen here is the graphic novel collection at the Hancock School Public Library, a big draw to young readers.

“So far, our focus has really been on getting new materials added and taking inventory of what’s already on the shelves and seeing what hasn’t circulated in a long time to take it out and making room for newer materials,” he said.

The collection hadn’t been clearly delineated before. They added separate young adult and large-print sections to make those easier to find. The library also added a graphic novel section.

“We didn’t have one of those before, and that’s been one of the most successful things,” said library manager Boni Ashburn. “Kids love them, and they just come pouring in looking for graphic novels.”

The physical space is also being reorganized. In the past, the shelves all bordered the edges. It began with the young adult section. Adult fiction and nonfiction will join them over the next few months, Geshel said.

“We tried to pull things out into the center to make it more like a library you can get in, which I think is part of the magic of libraries,” he said.

There’s been a “significant jump” in door-count numbers, Geshel said. Circulation statistics also increased over the same point last year.

Future changes include adding exterior signage and cataloging. The former magazine and reference section was moved to create a larger children’s area. It will host a children’s storytime starting on April 2.

Geshel said they also hope to use meeting room space as a community room similar to the one at the main library in Houghton.

They also want to expand the uses for the tutoring room, which could become a media lab with features such as a smart board and green-screen setup for audiovisual media projects.

Since Hancock voters do not pay a millage, it is not an official branch, meaning residents do not have access to the main library in Houghton.

“The good news for Hancock residents is that because there’s no tax levied in there in the school district, we can make membership available to anyone,” Geshel said. “It’s not limited to where you live at all.”

Hancock resident Jenn Sams was reading to her 18-month-old son, Theo, in the new children’s area.

“It’s a beautiful space,” said Sams, a librarian at Michigan Technological University. “The kids’ section is really nice here.”

The children’s area also stood out to Oyler.

“And since my grandson’s in sixth grade, I like the young adult section,” she said. “There’s more choices for him to read. It looks good.”