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Technology, children's programs priorities for library candidate

Lyn Henderson is hoping to be the Addison Township Public Library’s new director. (click for larger version)
April 13, 2011 - Lyn Henderson said she's ready to move the Addison Township Public Library forward as its new director, the only question is will the library board hire her?

Henderson, who's worked part-time at the library since December 2005, had her second interview with the library board Thursday.

"You hire me and together we work on vision and mission, and then it is my job to do everything in my power to see that that vision is carried through," she said.

The library board is expected to discuss and possibly take action regarding the director position at its 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 19 meeting (1440 Rochester Rd.).

What's going to happen next is unclear given there is one more applicant for the job who has not interviewed because her resume got misplaced, according to Acting Library Board President Evelyn Pickwick. The candidate's name is Jaema Berman, an adult services librarian for Waterford, and the resume/cover letter were postmarked March 14, two days before the deadline for applications.

Pickwick said she's also heard from folks who were disappointed that the position wasn't advertised locally in the Leader. As a result, she indicated the board could decide to re-advertise it and accept more applications.

Henderson was one of five candidates (not including Berman) who initially applied for the position.

She envisions a bright future for Addison's library, filled with many opportunities to expand its users and supporters.

Henderson believes Troy's plan to close its library on May 1 will lead other larger libraries in the area, like Rochester, to become more restrictive with regard to circulating materials. This will, in turn, increase usage of the Addison library.

"That is going to be a great thing for us," she said. "I believe it's going to be wonderful because people will be coming back. People who gave us a try 10 years ago, or five years ago, will come back and we're going to have a second chance at this."

One of the ways to hook these people and show them that the Addison library is modern and relevant is by expanding its use of technology such as having downloads available for e-Readers – portable electronic devices designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital books and periodicals.

"We've got to stop thinking that e-Readers are going to replace libraries," said Henderson, who worked as a librarian for L'Anse Creuse Public Schools from 1990-2010. "It's no more going to replace a library than that book on CD that we carry. It's just a different format."

For an estimated $2,000 or $3,000 per year, Addison can become a member of a consortium of libraries that offer downloads for e-Readers.

Henderson would also like to see the library offer wireless internet access (Wi-Fi) to its patrons. She said there's a "whole generation" out there that can't understand why McDonald's has Wi-Fi, but the library doesn't.

Reaching out to the "tech people," folks in that 22-40 age range, is going to be critical to the library's future, in Henderson's opinion.

"We've got library users who will never walk through the door," she explained. "They're going to put their holds on line, they're going to download on-line, but they will vote for you, they will support you.

"We've got to start thinking about library supporters in a much different way. They aren't just the people who check out books."

Henderson can't wait for the library to move into its new interim home in the Lakeville Towne Square strip mall, located along Rochester Rd. in Lakeville. The library recently signed a lease for approximately 3,000 square feet of space in the mall.

"It's going to really be a shot-in-the-arm for Addison Township," she said. "It's going to look nice."

If selected as director, Henderson said she has no problem utilizing local volunteers in a variety of ways, from shelving books to teaching others in the community how to use e-Readers and other technology.

"We have people with tremendous skills in this community," she said.

Since the library's not going to have the revenue to increase its staff, Henderson believes volunteers can be used as a supplement to give current staff the time to "do what they're trained to do."

She doesn't, however, believe volunteers should be used in place of existing staff as a way to save money. "I would oppose using volunteers for the purpose of cutting staffing hours," said Henderson, who served on the Addison library board from 1988-93. "I'd like to maintain the people who have been loyal and who really do make the Addison library so unique."

Henderson is a strong proponent of maintaining the children's summer reading program. "That has been one of the strongest programs we have and it must continue," she said. "That is something we need to find the money for . . . I believe our Friends group has been very generous in the past with taking care of that."

Children's programs are especially important as more and more school districts eliminate their librarians.

"Many people read to their children at night, but many people don't," said Henderson, who has master's degrees in both library science and English. "As we see schools abdicating responsibility for the small children and being the first exposure they have to literature, the public libraries are going to have to pick up that burden . . . The schools aren't going to do it and some parents can't do it. Summer reading's going to become more important."

Moving to the larger space in the strip mall will allow the library to finally have "more than six children" during storytimes. "When you have six children, it's tutoring; it's not really story hour," Henderson noted.

If hired as director, Henderson plans to build a strong and productive relationship with the Friends of the Addison Township Public Library, a private, nonprofit group.

"I think that sometimes Friends of the Library, regardless of what library it is, ends up being seen as just a fund-raising group and I think that's underestimating the talent of the people in the group," she said.

Henderson would like to increase communication with the Friends and "find out if they have ideas."

Following her interview, five audience members went to the podium to publicly praise Henderson and support hiring her as director.

"Lyn is very helpful," said Addison resident and library user Eileen Galbraith. "To me, she's pretty much trained . . . You've got somebody who knows what she's doing . . . I think Lyn's the gal."

"Lyn is an excellent example of a librarian," said Addison resident Ellen Delater. "I know that Lyn has experience in our library. It's just a no-brainer."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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