BY: RACHEL DROZE
LANSING STAR STAFF WRITER
LANSING – No one likes throwing away money, right? However, if you don’t use your local public library, you are doing just that. Your property taxes are paying for a variety of different services at the Capital Area District Library’s Downtown Lansing branch.
“A lot of people use their libraries when their kids are young, and then they kind of lose the habit. If they haven’t been in the library for a while, I’d like them to come in and see that we’re doing – classes, we’re doing programming, we’re doing downloadables,” said head librarian Kathy Johnson. “We’ve got a lot to offer.”
“We have a lot of people that just kind of missed out on the computer age and are now trying to catch up in order to improve their skills and to get new and better jobs.” Johnson said.
The library accommodates everyone
“I have a staff that is very accepting of people of all walks of life and all temperaments, too,” Johnson said.
Since most homeless shelters aren’t open during the day, a number of homeless people spend time at the library, Johnson said.
“We started this a number of years ago because we do have a lot of people who are kind of hanging out here during the day,” Johnson said. “Many of them are staying at shelters so they can’t even borrow video tapes to watch because they don’t have access to one little personal TV and VCR.”
Russell, a homeless library patron who didn’t want to share his last name, said a lot of places around town don’t let him sit and get warm in their buildings. In contrast, the downtown Lansing library welcomes him.
“They’re very friendly,” Russell said about the library staff, a fact I confirmed firsthand during my interview with him. Johnson gave him and another homeless man a snack to munch on while they read the newspaper.
“This would be a much tougher city to be homeless in if they were not here,” Russell said.
For more information about the Downtown Lansing Library, check out their website.