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Marcellus Township Wood Memorial Library

History of the Library - Part 14

The Library is Not Always Quiet By Suzanne Lind
History of the Library - Part 14

The Marcellus Library has books, electronic resources, meeting space, and reference materials.  But as a vital part of a lively community, the library also has times of noise, music, laughter, dancing, shrieking, braying and eating.  In 2017 the library hosted 37 special programs and 40 hours of pre-school stories and activities.  These activities were attended by 2,219 persons.


Recently Library Director Chris Nofsinger sat down to reminisce about all the hundreds of programs that the library has sponsored in the past few years.  Laughing, she said, “Noah’s Ark’s got nothin’ on the Marcellus Township Library.  I have been making a list of all the animals that we have welcomed into the library:  alpacas, lizards, boa constrictors, so many snakes, a tortoise, rabbits, goats, chickens, ponies, reindeer, dogs, cats, owls, birds, parrots, mice (uninvited), fish, alligators galore, sugar glider, bats, lynx, sloths. worms, lambs and more.  Do you notice the glaring omission to this list?  PIGS.  How is it possible that in Cass County, home of the pig, we have not yet had a live sighting in the library?” 


Two young library patrons, both named Kara, declared during Bluegill Frolic days that their favorite library memories are of Reptile Day (Muxalow Exotics) in 2017 and Farm Day in 2018.  On Farm Day Hidden Acres Petting Farm brought small farm animals and fowl to the yard outside the library.  Many children sat in the baby goat pen, carried chickens in their arms, fed a donkey, and milked a very patient goat.


Reflecting that, at a library, we have the world at our fingertips, Nofsinger pointed out that “Over the past few years we’ve learned about all the counties in Michigan and the many good vacation spots across the state.  We learned about the life and culture of Amish and Mennonites and Al Capone, all of whom have a history in southwest Michigan.  We heard fascinating stories of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, about life in Spain, Qatar, Laos, Congo and Costa Rica.  We heard from a lot of authors, and the Gilmore Car Museum came to see us.  So did the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, the Kalamazoo Nature Center and the circus!  We learned about invasive species, scuba diving, small business set-ups on ebay, and how to overcome addictions.  Oh, and that tattoo program . . . amazing.  Occasionally we went out of town—like those awesome bus trips to the American Girl Museum and the Magnificent Mile in Chicago!

“We offered so many classes:  crochet, French conversation, knitting, bike repair, yoga, martial arts, dance, jewelry making, sand art, Pysanka egg painting, dog training, essential oils, watercolor and acrylic painting, adult coloring, beer brewing and first aid. 

“And oh, how we played!  We hosted family game night and played Legos.  We threw beach parties in January and superhero parties in July.   We traipsed through town on treasure hunts and scared the trick-or-treaters (and their parents—biggest thrill of all) at our Haunted Library. Every December Santa came to town and so did the Easter Bunny!    We celebrated the library’s 120th birthday and National Poetry Month.   We had tea parties and heard some pretty awful karaoke.  We watched good movies and also some really bad ones.   We watched the solar eclipse together.  And who could forget our Captain Underpants themed float in the Bluegill Frolic parade, when the staff walked down the street wearing tighty whities and continued the celebration with an Underwear Fling and plunger war at the library. 

 “We strengthened and expanded our community by interviewing people aged one to one hundred, asking them to tell us something significant they’ve learned in their lifetime.  We learned about refugees and fair trade practices in developing countries.  Our young patrons put together an I Spy Quilt for our pre-schoolers and made dolls to give to children traumatized by violence in Nigeria.   We had blood drives and collected toiletries to put in the health kit bags we sewed for refugees around the world.   We collected items for the local food pantry and we invited our local politicians to talk to us about policy making in Lansing and how to bring about positive changes in our communities.”

Wanda Mikel, who visits the library frequently, often with her grandchildren, said, “My favorite library program was when Kathy Murphy came from Kalamazoo to tell us about refugee families coming to the U.S. from war-torn countries.”

The library hosts two regular book clubs for adults and occasional book clubs for youth.  A highlight for Irene Walewya Goodlow was the visit of author John Kozak, who came to visit the library after the book club she attends read his book Through the Eyes of Rose.

On Wednesday mornings the library “comes to life” as pre-schoolers and their care-givers bounce in for an hour of stories, music, movement, healthy snacks, and creative craft projects designed by the library’s in-house artist, Joy Kozik.   Check out the story hour photos and commentary on the Marcellus Library Facebook page!

Chris Nofsinger echoes the overall feeling of library staff and board members when she asks, “Who can measure the impact of the thousands of books that line our shelves, that we read on those cold, snowy January nights and take with us camping to Sleeping Bear Dunes in July?  Our lives have been enriched by the concerts, plays, book clubs, story telling and poetry readings that have taken place in this library for more than 120 years.”

Jennifer Jones, Marcellus Library Board President, sums it all up when she says, “The joy I get the most from being on the library board is hearing from all the happy patrons who attend the events that our library director and staff plan.  These special events, from yoga to painting, draw together so many people.  If the library can bring so much joy to our small community, then the board is happy too.”