Year in review: Grace A. Dow Memorial Library with Miriam Andrus

Intro by Ron Beacom:

"The year 2021 showed us that we could think outside the box."The Grace A. Dow Memorial Library is one of the cornerstones of our community. The library, which is operated by the City of Midland, provides resources and assistance to learners of all ages. The library has had a difficult stretch since 2017, with two damaging floods and the obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catalyst gets an update from the library director, Miriam Andrus. She’s been there since 2018. Under Miriam's direction, the library has eliminated late fines, removed rental fees on audio-visual materials, built a newly accessible website, created a seed library and a Library of Things, and expanded digital offerings.
Fun fact: Miriam reads using audiobooks and rarely picks up a physical book. She likes to garden and work on home renovation projects.
Article by Miriam Andrus:
It is the end of a tough year, but despite the hardships the library has endured, 2021 has shaped the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library to better serve the Midland community than ever before. In early January, the library was only open Monday through Thursday. We offered curbside pick-up while struggling to get the heat back on. The library is now open Monday through Saturday, has a working HVAC system, and has welcomed patrons back inside.
 The library tentatively plans to open the entire building in April 2022.
The library faced many hurdles in connecting people to resources. COVID-19 and the flood prevented patrons from entering the building and made an entire floor of the library inaccessible. If there is anything the last year taught us, it is that the library can adapt.
The year 2021 showed us that we could think outside the box. To ensure materials could get into patrons' hands we offered curbside pick-up. For patrons quarantining at home, we increased our digital offerings including databases that teach you how to play musical instruments or create art. We increased our eBook, eAudiobook, and downloadable film selections. We started curbside crafts, and when the weather warmed we held story times and other programming outside. Efforts paid off as we witnessed Summer Reading numbers surge. Adults read 3,933 books and kids logged 28,641 days of reading (equivalent to 78 years)! In June, we opened the lobby for limited browsing until the air conditioning became available to open a portion of the main floor.
However, not everything is back to “normal.” Construction on the lower level is still incomplete and mechanical systems are still being worked on.
Looking ahead, we tentatively plan to open the entire building in April 2022, but it will not be the same as it once was. The lower level will have a new parenting room available for nursing mothers or parents needing a space to calm their frustrated child. An area that once was office space will be a maker space called the MID-Lab or Modern Innovation Design Lab. The MID-Lab is a space for patrons to learn new skills while trying gadgets like a Glowforge, Cricut, embroidery machine, and so much more.

The future looks bright for the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library.The children's area will be as vibrant as ever with new shelving, a changed layout, and one big surprise we are saving for the grand opening! Despite the hardships, 2021 made library staff get creative, evaluate our space, and poised us to fully open in 2022 a better library to serve the community of Midland.