GRATTAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As leaders look to build a library, residents in Grattan Township will soon have the option to check out books at the township hall.
Kent District Library and the township have been talking about adding a new library for the last few years, according to Randy Goble, the director of engagement for KDL.
“It’s been close to three years since we started talking together about having a physical presence of the library in Grattan Township, because the closest branch is about 10 miles away,” Goble said. “There are a lot of people who really love the library up there. Having something close would be really valuable to them.”
The township is exploring options for a branch building. In the meantime, KDL was “gracious enough” to offer an express library, Paul Knoerl, a Grattan Township trustee, told News 8.
“It’s a nice way to … trial this and see how many residents will use it and see what kind of advantages we get,” he said.
The express library will be inside the township hall, located at 12050 Old Belding Road near Belding Road. It will hold around 200 of the 700,000 books in KDL’s floating collection. The books will be chosen based on what the community shows interest in, Goble said.
“There are nuances to those communities that are different,” he said. “Having a physical presence in Grattan is going to be more reflective of the people that live there.”
Knoerl said the express library is expected to get set up in June. It will run out of a locked cabinet that patrons can open using their library card.
“This is a great way for Grattan Township to get the toe in the water to have a physical library in Grattan Township,” Goble said. “It’s a self-serve system where people can scan their card and when books go in and out of this storage unit, they’re scanned.”
Residents who already have a KDL card will be already set up to use the express library. Residents who don’t have a card can go to KDL.org or stop in at a branch to sign up.
The express library will be KDL’s 21st location, including its Bookmobile.
TOWNSHIP LOOKS TO CREATE KDL BRANCH
The township had looked into buying and renovating the empty Grattan Academy Charter School building across the street from the township hall and turning it into a library. But the $1.9 million price tag led to the township looking elsewhere.
“Our hope was to put a KDL branch library there,” Knoerl told News 8. “It just turned out to be far too expensive a project to renovate and redo that building for a library and also other uses.”
The township is now exploring other options, including tearing the school building down and rebuilding or building an addition to the township office.
Knoerl said the township will survey residents in May and June to get a better idea of what they want. In the past, residents have expressed interest in services like having access to Wi-Fi, as “a lot of our township does not have Wi-Fi or broadband coverage of any kind,” he said. One of KDL’s most checked out items at other locations are Wi-Fi hot spits.
A KDL branch would also serve as a “third place,” Goble said.
“The concept of a third place is where you feel like you belong when you’re not at work and you’re not at home,” he said. “The library is that place. It’s a place where you can sit and relax. It’s a place where you can meet with other people. It’s a place where you can learn.”
As the township explores its options, an express library is a good step, Knoerl said.
“We were discouraged” that the school site fell through, he said. “It’s too bad that the building didn’t work out in the whole project initially, but we think this is a good step in the right direction as far as KDL and the township.”