Capital Area District Libraries offer so much more than books

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Emma Bunker is a clerk for the Lansing branch of the Capital Area District Library.

Danielle James

Emma Bunker, 25, is a clerk for the Lansing branch of the Capital Area District Libraries.

The Mason branch of the Capital Area District Libraries is home to a host of books, movies and audiobooks, as well as a full roster of weekly programs. It is also where youth services librarian Lindsay Anderson spends her days trying to change the way people view libraries. 

“It’s interesting to talk to people about public libraries today,” said Anderson. As the youth services librarian, Anderson puts together and runs programs at the library. 

Sha said, “… People still picture libraries of the past, where they were basically just a house for books, but libraries have really become community spaces where we provide so much more.” To her, ‘so-much-more’ includes a host of events.

“We basically provide two types of programming. One is regular weekly or monthly programming … and then there’s also special programming.”

Regular programming includes everything from meet-the-author events to weekly story programs. The library provides opportunities for all age groups but puts special emphasis on youth programs. 

“Because of the overwhelming interest we’ve received in this community, we provide a lot of early literacy programming,” said Anderson. “I host most of that programming, and a huge bulk of it is storytime. That includes songs, stories and rhymes, and we do two of them a week on Tuesday mornings and Thursday mornings.” 

These early literacy programs are offered for kids aged 6 and younger, and they help prepare children to transition to a classroom and learn to read. 

“My specialization is definitely kids; I feel most passionately about that age group. That’s why I spend a lot of my time offering storytimes,” said Anderson. “They’re such a powerful literacy tool, and what I get to do during those storytimes is provide a lot of classroom readiness skills. I get to teach them how to be part of a group, how to step up in front, how to be quiet and listen during stories and how to socialize. I’m teaching them how to be kind to each other and share.” 

In addition to storytime, the library also provides opportunities for school-aged children, teenagers and adults. Children’s programs include opportunities to read to a therapy dog, see live animals inside the library and participate in role-playing clubs. 

 There are also regularly scheduled adult programs, like coloring groups and book discussion clubs. 

“We have a book group, which is basically a book discussion group for adults, and it meets the first Monday afternoon of the month,” said Anderson. “I love those afternoons because…  they just get so rowdy, and they don’t always agree, but they just have so much fun arguing about the book that they’ve read. Another thing that we provide regularly for adults is a coloring group. This has become a niche thing for a small group in our community. Coloring is a prescription-free anti-anxiety activity; it is so relaxing.” 

The Mason branch is constantly hosting events like these, but this library is not the only option available to residents of Ingham County. 

The Mason library is one of 13 branches of the Capital Area District Library system. In addition to a board of trustees, the branches are all overseen by a management team of 7. However, each library has programming and events unique to its location. 

“Generally, what we offer is unique to our community,” said Anderson. “The programs that our community needs aren’t necessarily the same as, for example, the downtown branch or others in different areas.” 

The downtown Lansing branch of the library does offer a different schedule of programming. According to CADL, Lansing programs include after-school tutoring and gaming nights for kids. Emma Bunker, a 25-year-old library clerk at the downtown Lansing library, helps to put on her branch’s activities. 

“We have events pretty much every week,” said Bunker. “We have a Pokemon night and we have gaming nights for kids. We also have family story time coming up, which is going to be a weekly thing.”

The story-time hour is one event that is shared across several branches of the CADL. According to  Anderson, there are many common themes and opportunities for collaboration between the branches. 

“Sometimes CADL will have us work together,” said Anderson. “A branch that’s not too far from us is the Aurelius library, and sometimes to save money if we both want to have the same performer come, we’ll book those on the same day.” 

In another example of collaboration, the CADL branches are coming together to host several larger events in the future. 

“A unique thing that is coming soon is Frozen Fridays,” said Anderson. “CADL is going to rent out a movie theater and give out tickets to see Frozen 2 to library card members only. Mason is going to host our Frozen Friday the 25th, and from two to five library card members can come to the library and claim two tickets to that showing of Frozen 2. Our marketing department is genius, and they’re really trying to highlight some of the benefits of being a library card holder.” 

In addition to programming, one thing the CADL libraries have in common is their employees. Lansing library clerk Emma Bunker has been visiting Ingham county libraries for her entire life. 

“The library is one of my favorite things,” said Bunker. “I’ve actually used the Capital area system since longer than I can even remember. The summer reading programs were something I participated in extensively as a child. Now I use the rest of the system as well.”

Like Emma, Anderson has also grown up around the public library system. 

“My first real job at the age of 16 was to be a shelver at the Holt library,” said Anderson. “So I kind of fell into working for libraries.”

Anderson went on to study creative writing and literature, which helped her become the youth services librarian.

“As I got older I got a lot more passionate about literacy and the importance of reading, said Anderson. “I wanted to write the next great American novel and change the world, ‘oh naive little Lindsay.’ But I kind of look at it now like I’m changing the world one kid at a time, which is quite enough for me.”