Tuesday, May 30 Eaton Rapids residents were welcomed to attend a public hearing at the Eaton Rapids Library regarding upcoming renovations to the library. ERPL has been receiving donations for a remodel for some time, and recently library director, Anna Curtis, selected an architect for the project. With these strides forward, the next step was to provide an informational meeting for the public, and to hear what residents would like to see in their local library.

Architect Daniel E. Whisler, who has worked on a number of specialized and award winning libraries, provided the 13 attendees to the hearing information on what ERPL is lacking, ways to improve the space, and components that have benefitted other libraries. Included in the information were statistics of comparison between ERPL and other libraries of similar sizes in Michigan. These statistics, according to Anna, indicate that ERPL is “sorely lacking in a number of areas.”

The information from Whisler affirmed many of Curtis’ concerns. In her two years as library director she’s done what she can to update the library’s services and programs, but still recognized significant holes in its offerings. Like many librarians and library directors, Curtis sees the library as a community information center, not just a place to store books. Visitors shouldn’t just come to the library for a book about cooking; they should be able to learn how to cook. Visitors shouldn’t come to the library only for a book on the Korean War; they should be able to hear stories of the Korean War from real veterans.

According to Curtis, the 13 or so attendees to the hearing were in agreement that the library is lacking in a number services. Curtis also noted, however, that those in attendance are individuals who regularly use the library. Although she was pleased that Whisler’s information was shared, she is hoping to reach other people in the community who may not know what the library currently offers, or what it has the potential to offer.

“A lot of people didn’t know the library existed,” said Curtis.

Wednesday, May 31 (the day after the public hearing) Curtis posted a survey online for Eaton Rapids to use and share. The purpose of the survey is to gather thoughts and concerns regarding the library from those who were unable to attend the public hearing. The survey can be found on the ERPL Facebook page.

The next step after the public hearing and the survey will be for Whisler to create a schematic drawing of potential library renovations. Along with the drawing will come a budget/price estimate for the renovations, according to Curtis.

There is still time to give input and ask questions. Curtis welcomes readers to contact her at the library, share concerns, share insights and ideas, and generally participate in the changes coming to ERPL.

“There’s something for everybody if we’re just willing to look for it,” said Curtis.

The next public meeting regarding the library renovation will be Monday, June 12 at 9:30 p.m. To follow and hear more about the Eaton Rapids Public Library is doing, readers can like the ERPL Facebook page, or call the library (517) 663-8118.