Kelloggsville — The air crackled with an unexpected energy as the time arrived for the daily transformation of the Kelloggsville High School library to become the Kent District Library’s Kelloggsville branch.
Actually, it is “just a flick of a light switch,” said Keith Caterino, the library’s media and technology director. “The KDL staff usually comes in before 3 p.m. to get set up, but other than that the space simply goes from being a high-school library to a public one.”
It’s a partnership that is unique to the district. For the past five years, the high school and KDL have shared the 6,000-square-foot facility located inside the high school at 4787 South Division Ave. On weekdays, the space serves as the school’s library; from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, the space is open to the public.
In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, your School News Network team will bring you a wide variety of stories that tie to the decade – like the one here. We’ll re-publish each school district’s first stories and update engaging profiles of students and educators. Additional stories will highlight a decade of change in schools and public education. And we welcome your ideas! Just email us at SNN@kentisd.org.
“I think it has been a wonderful partnership with KDL,” said Caterino, who came to the district after the space was opened. “That partnership has continued to evolve over the years, and for a lot of people it’s been transformative.”
Anjie Gleisner, KDL’s regional manager for the Wyoming and Kelloggsville branches, echoed Caterino’s comments, noting that the library/school partnership is one of only a few in the state. KDL has received inquiries about the partnership from other schools and library systems.
And students don’t necessarily leave once the doors open to the public. “It is not unusual to see the library full of teenagers after school,” Gleisner said. “Students come to decompress with video games, catch up on school work and just to socialize.”
Partnership Increases Access for All
When the district decided to renovate its high school through the passage of a 2015 bond proposal, administrators envisioned bringing a full-service library to the district, which straddles Wyoming and Kentwood. The goal was to make library services more accessible to families, some of whom may find it challenging to get to the KDL Kentwood branch, which is 4.5 miles away, or the KDL Wyoming branch, 3.5 miles away.
Because of that vision and the desire to work with KDL, then Assistant Superintendent Tammy Savage secured a $250,000 grant from the Steelcase Foundation.
“That was the key for this partnership to happen, the Steelcase grant,” Caterino said.
Similar to agreements with its local municipality partners, KDL provides all of the library materials, its own staff and databases while the district maintains the facility. The branch houses an 8,000-item collection that includes materials for all ages, and Caterino can access the KDL database to reserve and have books transferred to Kelloggsville.
“For most public schools, they only have access to a certain number of books that they can afford on a yearly basis, based on their budget,” said Caterino, who is an employee of the school district. “Tastes are always changing, and of course there are trends, and you want to keep your collection as current as possible.”
That access came as a relief to senior Eviahn Lopez-Rivera as he searched for the last in a book series he was reading for his language arts class. In fact, the branch has one of the largest teen collections in the system.
Social studies and language arts classes use the facility regularly. They also come in during lunchtime or downtime to hang out or play some of the board games, Caterino said. Since the entire KDL collection is available, students can download books to their computer or tablets.
The collection includes a children’s section, and Caterino said he has arranged to have elementary students bused to the high school library to see the collection and familiarize themselves with the space.
“If the younger students know about the library being here, then they will let their parents know,” he said.
Becoming a Community Hub
The branch is still growing in terms of community use, Gleisner said, adding the facility has seen its summer programming grow, and in August was host to a five-year anniversary party that brought several hundred people to the location, accessed at the side of the building.
The community will find bestsellers at the branch, but must check out materials in person. Books from Kelloggsville can be returned to any KDL location.
Gleisner said the partnership is a work in progress as they maneuver the needs, including adjustment to hours to meet community interests.
It also has provided opportunities to work on other projects.
Earlier this school year, Southeast Kelloggsville’s library was delayed in opening as it went through a remodel and received new books through Michigan’s 802 library pilot grants. The grants were made available to four counties and required a certified media specialist, like Caterino, to be in charge.
For 2022 and 2023, Caterino received funding from the 802 grants of up to $30,000 for materials at both Southeast and West Kelloggsville elementaries. He worked with KDL’s materials selection team to help select the new books for those libraries.
Read more from Kelloggsville:
• Learning to be good sports
• She found the perfect marriage of music and helping