Who says libraries are out of vogue? The Kindle has nothing on the McFarlen branch of the Genesee District Library, located in Grand Blanc.
The McFarlen Library has been a staple of the Grand Blanc community since its opening in 1978. Today, the library averages nearly 12,000 visits and 1,600 hours of computer use per month, with an average monthly circulation of 22,000 items. Community, conference and study rooms, computers, and of course books cover the basics, but a separate children’s room and teen room are just the beginning of the fun. An ever-growing selection of DVDs, Blu-ray discs (including new titles!), video games and audiobooks provides library patrons with multi-media entertainment at no cost. In addition, McFarlen Library hosts workshops, concerts and a robust Summer Reading Program, which attracted 800 children last year.
Eileen Button, Community Relations Manager at the Genesee District Library, says that recent fears about the obsolescence of libraries are groundless: “Libraries aren’t becoming obsolete,” she says, “they’re just changing.” The changes are primarily technological, as the library seeks to accommodate visitor needs in this wired world. With information literally at the tips of our fingers these days, thanks to tablets and smartphones, it can feel like a huge waste of time to have to go to the library in order to get a book (or movie or magazine). Knowing that they had to be more accessible, the GDL instituted new technology that makes a myriad of material available without ever having to step foot through the door. Through the use of systems like Zinio, Freegal and OverDrive, library cardholders can check out magazines, music and books online. “The best part,” said Eileen with a laugh, “is that there are no late fees. The music you can keep permanently and the books are automatically checked back in. I know that I myself have been guilty of late returns in the past.”
One of the most unique features of the McFarlen Library is the Robert T. Bolo, Jr. Business Center, which contains over 3,500 titles on investing, small business, job hunting, and market and industry research. Run by Trevor Winn, who makes it his business to equip the community with knowledge and access to resources, the Business Center is a one-stop shop for answers to anything business related. “Whether you’re looking for a job and want help with your resume, or trying to start a business and need help with a business plan, you can find help here,” said Trevor, who is available to work one-on-one, connecting people with the information they’re looking for. “Blind searching on the Internet is exhausting, and you can avoid both data overload and misinformation by coming to me directly,” he added.
With all that’s going on at the library, Eileen’s assurance that McFarlen “is not your grandfather’s library” rings true. Kara Kvasnicka, Librarian, says that while technology has brought the library to wherever people are, the activities and resources at McFarlen bring people to the library. “At our core, we are still a place that draws people and enriches their lives,” she smiled.
PHOTOS BY MIKE NADDEO