17 August 2010

Discovering Libraries: Interlochen Public Library

The Sisters have grown into readers thanks in many ways to Interlochen Public Library and its wonderful staff. In celebration of their 25th anniversary we asked Janette Grice, Director of the Library, for an interview to get to know even more about Interlochen Public Library! Here are some highlights from our 2010 interview:

How long have you worked at Interlochen Public Library? “Just about 8 years ago,  lets say 7 1/2,” Janette was hired on and explained that in a library of this size its Director “wears all sorts of different hats!” We agree, she can be found helping behind the circulation desk, talking with patrons, or in her office where we imagine she must work magic to keep up the amazing collection at IPL!
How do you select the books for the library?  
Janette shared several ways. One of which is a service for libraries by Baker and Taylor --through Baker and Taylor a library creates a custom list of authors and when new books are published they are sent straight to the library. “It took me a while to learn what would be read here and what wouldn’t, because not everything that is on the New York Times Bestseller List will be something that we want. We also use Amazon which gives lists of books based on what we’ve ordered in the past. And to see what is selling locally I look at the Sunday paper and use Horizon Books monthly flyer. And, of course, suggestions from library patrons and staff! Once in a while I get to go to Horizon Books and buy books,” she smiles, “it’s a dream... one of the best parts of my job is buying books!”

Which lead us to... what is the best part of working at the library?
“Buying books is a great part and then when they come in, seeing each book and handling them.”

Would you say that you are a bibliophile?
“Yes!” laughing, “I was born a bibliophile!” (What is a bibliophile? Click here.)

What is the hardest part of working at the library?
“I am not a numbers person, I am a letters person! Math and I are not friends. Yet I am responsible for the budget here and that is a huge responsibility. I have been able to deal with the budget with the help of a treasurer and board of directors who take care of policy, they are like my bosses --I report to them and operate the library at their direction. And one of my staff, Renee, is a book-keeper/accountant/numbers kind of person and she does most of that work, thankfully!”

How do you think e-books will effect IPL?

“They are coming, I have been very resistant to the devices myself. The first few years I was here --I was not against-- but not really wanting to get involved with books online, just because, I guess, I am old fashioned and I want books. Then I found a program at an MLA (Michigan Library Association) conference, Tumble Books. My experience was so positive, user friendly, and the price was right and then we had great response and I am very happy with the Tumble Books program.” She went on to share that the Traverse Area District Library has down-loadable audio books a service called Overdrive available online. As far as her relationship with e-books, well soon it may be changing... a few weeks ago Janette’s husband came home with a electronic reader and while she hasn’t had time to check it out she plans to.  “I don’t think that books will ever go away, but the electric books are going to become a big thing.”

What are your hopes for the future of Interlochen Public Library?

“My hope is sometime in the next five years that we could have a new building -we are really outgrowing this one. We don’t have a small public meeting room for people to use and no quiet area. We are weeding books, because of space limitations, that I would rather keep.” Now that libraries are becoming a hub for Wi-Fi users, Janette recognized new needs for patrons and explained, “we have an unusual problem, we have enough plugs, but not enough seats!” She went on to explain that there was a Building Feasibility Committee on the Board a few years ago that investigated and determined that “one, we needed a new library; two, what it would cost to build a new library and three, determined that to do a capital campaign we would need to have free land, that we couldn't raise enough money to build and to buy land. And so we began looking into free land options, but then the economy went down.” The research is done, there are options available to be explored “now we wait to see what happens next.”

What can a citizen do to help preserve the library as an institution?

The Sisters check out books with
Cathy Dierkes and Diann Chwalibog,
just two of the wonderful smiling
faces you'll find at IPL.
“Volunteer at the library, join The Friends of the Library (how to join? click here) --because they do fundraising which supplements our income. If your library is doing a capital campaign --donate your time or money.  We always take donations. And Books for Walls Project is supporting the library by having us as a regular part of your website.” Then she smiled as she said, “the best way to support your library is to use it.”

The Big Sister then wanted to know how old you have to be to volunteer at the library. Janette explained, “by state law you have to be 14.” (So in four years watch for The Big Sister at Interlochen Library.)

Finally we asked Janette for any closing thoughts and insights.

“Use your library,” she paused and continued with a smile, “that’s really profound, but... just use your library! We have a lot to offer, people are amazed what we have here, truly, and we are not that big of a library.  And it is only going to get better! Along with Traverse Area District Libraries  and the new district director (Metta Lansdale) --down the road we’re going to become a member of MEL (Michigan E-Library) then we can then borrow books from all sorts of places... Grand Rapids and Detroit... and they can borrow from us!” The Big Sister was excited to hear that there will be more books available! And Janette, agreed, “it will certainly open up the possibilities!”

So please dear readers, in the wonderful words of 
Janette Grice, 
“use your library!”

How to get to Interlochen Public Library?
Click here for a map.


  1. Nice work The Four of Us! I enjoyed Mrs. Grice' take on e-books... as a fellow bibliophile, I don't ever want to give up books, but I am a fan of technology... still not sure I ever want to support the e-reader world, BUT, it's nice to know that I might be able to check it out at the library.

  2. IPL is a great place to get books and hang out. The director and staff are very knowledgable and helpful. Keep up the good work.

    p.s. please get more books on tape but not mysteries or suspense.

  3. i love this!! we LOVE our local libraries (we have 3, actually, within 20 min) and are there almost all the time.

    i also really enjoy being on the child-lit listserv - there are many famous children's authors on it, and many, many librarians. it makes me happy to read such book talk!