Hancock School Public Library boasts new programs and services

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette A new resource at the Hancock School Public Library is the book vending machine, from which books can be purchased with a token.

HANCOCK — The Hancock School Public Library has been completely transformed since it received a $212,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Education in August, 2022. That was two years after receiving funding to further develop a new media lab, new technology and new furniture.

Library Manager Boni Ashburn said a lot of that money was used to fund some basic upgrades in the library that needed to be done, such as new seating, shelving, replacement of furniture, as well as to upgrade the non-fiction book collection.

“We put about $40,000 from the grant into books,” Ashburn said.

Added resources include Hoopla, a web and mobile library media streaming platform l for audio books, comics, e-books, movies, music, and TV.

Another innovative program was what Ashburn refers to as Kindles, pre-loaded electronic reading devices. After 6th grade, over the summers, a lot of students do not have the ability to get to the library and a decline in enthusiasm was noticed in 7th graders checking out even recreational materials, she said.

The idea was created to send 6th graders home with Kindles, at the end of the school year. The Kindles would contain approximately 42 books, so that students would have access to all summer long.

“If they don’t have internet at home, or they don’t have computers,” she said, “they will still be able to read on a Kindle. So, what we’re trying to do is see if we can’t maintain that enthusiasm they have in 6th grade.”

Ashburn said the program was very successful. Nearly all of the students read at least one book over the summer. Many students read all 42 of the books dowloaded into the devices. Some students said that there was not much of a book selection, she added.

“So, with this next grant cycle, I’m going to add another hundred books onto each Kindle,” Ashburn said, giving them a total of 150 books to choose from.

Another innovative addition to the library is the book vending machine. The vending machine, which contains many middle-school age books works via tokens.

“One token equals one book,” Ashburn said. “We give out the tokens to the kids in the middle-school.”

Every week there is a dog bone drawing based on good behavior, for example. The students are awarded prizes, one of which is a book token. They can use the token for the vending machine.

Ashburn said the library also wanted to make the machine available for the high school students and public patrons. While the vending machine holds picture books for younger readers, and many for older students, the vending machine also contains gift card slots for adults, with cards for Northwind Books and Barnes & Noble. The books from the machine are for permanent ownership.

There is also the Library of Things, which is still on its way to completion. Currently, it is about one-third its capacity.

“It’s basically non-books,” said Ashburn. “It’s basically things that can be checked out of the library that may be things patrons have never used but would like to try.”

Items include a drone, a virtual reality headset, lazor tag, even a radar gun for checking the speed of runners or baseball pitches, an outdoor movie projector, and an air purifyer.

Ashburn said since the library began expanding a number of years ago, it has seen an average annual increase in usage of 35%. With the annual fees now established and on the library website, membership has also been increasing and the library now has expanded hours two days a week, on Mondays and Tuesdays from10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and now on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more details on what the library has to offer, visit its website at https://pldl.org/about-the-hancock-library/


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