Ann Arbor District Library announces major project to celebrate Ann Arbor's bicentennial

The Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) is calling on local residents for input on an initiative called Ann Arbor 200, which aims to celebrate the city of Ann Arbor's bicentennial year in 2024. 

Over the course of that year, AADL is planning to release 200 pieces of content focused on the city's history. Content will take the form of a variety of media, such as articles, documentaries, podcasts, illustrations, musical recordings, and animations. AADL staff are hoping residents will add to a pool of suggestions about what topics should be featured. They are open to ideas ranging from the very specific to suggestions that are less focused and more general. 

"We are not looking to rehash the history that has already been written. We don't want to talk about how Ann Arbor got its name and things that have been covered a whole bunch of times," says Andrew MacLaren, AADL's archives manager. "But there is, however, a lot of history that hasn't been told or delved into. We want that stuff."

MacLaren adds that he is especially enthused because perspectives on many subjects have changed since the last time histories were written. 

"It's going to be interesting because a lot of histories were written from the perspective of the '70s and '80s. In Ann Arbor our way of looking at society has changed," he says. "There are untold stories and unanswered questions people have about what makes Ann Arbor what it is."

MacLaren is also excited by the upcoming step of creating the 200 items. Some content will be created by writers, filmmakers, artists, and library staff. AADL is also hoping to create some community partnerships as the project moves forward. 

"We don't want to cover the history in necessarily the normal way or write another history book. There's nothing wrong with that, but the AADL likes to do fun things," MacLaren says. "We'll do normal, straightforward histories that really educate people, and crazy, wild things too. An idea could lend itself for a documentary or be suitable for a goofy musical project. We'll see as ideas roll in."

Suggestions should be emailed to annarbor200@aadl.org

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.
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