When the doors to Ypsilanti's first library opened in 1868, it was located in a room in the Arcade Building on Huron Street and known for decades as the "Ladies' Library." Although the Ypsilanti District Library (YDL) has undergone many changes in the 150 years since then, it's remained a source of pride to its community.
That pride was on full display this past Saturday as YDL marked its district-wide 150th Birthday Bash. All three YDL locations offered free activities, cake, games, crafts, entertainment, and music to mark the historic milestone. Saturday's celebration drew attendees of all ages and backgrounds, and we chatted with a few of them about their experiences with YDL.
Cassaundra, David, and Julie Wolf.
Julie Wolf, her son David, and his wife Cassaundra have been connected to the library for many years. "I was bringing David here since he was about 4 years old," Julie said. David and Cassaundra described their love story as "closely connected to books" and their love of reading. The family took part in a historic Ypsi walking tour led by historian James Mann on Saturday afternoon, moving from YDL's current downtown location at 229 W. Michigan Ave. to visit the Ypsilanti Historical Museum and Archives at 220 N. Huron St. and the former Ladies' Library site. Namita and Naveen Kashyap.
Husband and wife Naveen and Namita Kashyap have an active connection to YDL, taking weekly trips there and participating in various classes and enrichment programs. They say they "almost never miss a program" and the annual TEDxYDL event is among their favorites. Aside from checking out books, Naveen said he enjoys the library's audiobook collection and has probably read the entire biography section. Christine Warren.
Christine Warren has been visiting and volunteering with the library for over 40 years; she's currently volunteering on YDL's upcoming millage campaign. She brought her children to YDL and now brings her grandchildren as well. She said she enjoys the activities the library offers for seniors. "It's important to stay active and the library helps with that," she said. Warren said she particularly enjoyed recent technology literacy classes to help increase smartphone usability for seniors. Her husband, the late Robert Warren, also volunteered at YDL, served as a library board member, and supported the implementation of adaptive technologies for library users with visual impairments.Timothy Pollard and his daughters.
Timothy Pollard and his daughters celebrated Saturday with a library visit and several checkouts. "We're cardholders at several libraries," Pollard said. Kelly Goolsby and Najma Treadwell with their children.
Najma Treadwell said YDL plays a large role in her ability to homeschool her five children and provide them with a variety of resources. As an early education advocate, she sees great value in YDL's multiple locations. "Even if it means paying an extra $30 a year in taxes, it's worth it for the resources," she said. Treadwell attended Saturday's event with friends and fellow mothers Aycshia Leatherwood and Kelly Goolsby. All three brought their kids to enjoy the cake and crafts. "We take part in as many programs as we can, the summer reading program is great, and my kids have even won tickets to a Tigers game," Treadwell said. "We love the library."
Looking forward to the next 150 years, Saturday's event also included a presentation on the upcoming YDL millage vote. If the millage passes, YDL plans to build a new location on Harris Road in Superior Township and expand its collections and services. Unconventional new offerings that can be used without even stepping into the library have become popular in recent years. Today patrons can stream movies, research scholarly articles, and even receive live one-on-one tutoring from their home computers.
"150 years ago, books were the main form of media people used to share and learn information," said YDL communications and development manager Gillian Ream Gainsley. "Today we have a multitude of technologies."
All photos by Doug Coombe.