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0000017b-35e5-df5e-a97b-35edaf800000 We spent the past two months traveling to libraries across the state to see how their roles have evolved with the rise of the internet. In Ann Arbor, patrons can rent telescopes from the Ann Arbor District Library's tool library, and in Macomb County there's a special library for the deaf and blind. What's going on at your local library? Tweet at @michiganradio using the hashtag #MILibrary.

The public library in an Internet age: History is at the core of the Pinckney Community Library

Credit Carolyn Gearig/Michigan Radio

Dozens of flyers in the front hallway of the newly renovated Pinckney Community Public Library advertise programs: puzzle hour, knitting group, kids yoga, adult Zumba, after-hours movie nights and, of course, book discussion groups. Director Hope Siasoco flits among all of them, calling patrons by name, pointing out the local artwork hanging on the wall and joking that the movie nights are the “cheapest date in town.”

On August 20, the library offered a lecture about using historical newspapers as reference for tracing genealogy. Visitors were advised to check the gossip column, because those have some “juicy tidbits.” Every seat in the room was filled, some total beginners, and others already embedded in research, like Christy Knapp, who has been working through her genealogy for about three years.

“The library lets us see things hands-on,” she said. “We get to hold a book, we get to look at old newspapers, old pictures, those sort of things that you get to see and feel and touch and it’s not just on a computer screen. 

That sense of history is built into the library’s foundation, literally. The library recently moved into the building that once housed the town’s first high school and visitors can still see bits of the original foundation through glass windows in a storage closet. There’s also a dedicated local history room, which houses copies of the local yearbook, old newspapers, and other resources culled from donations and acquisitions.

When the library made the move, it scaled up dramatically – from 3,000 to 14,000 square feet. Siasoco said since then, the library has seen a lot more foot traffic, and it’s become clear how much the community values its library. The Friends of the Pinckney Community Public Library pitched in for much of the renovation costs, and residents voted to increase the library's millage last year to help make ends meet to run the bigger library, as the original millage was meant for the 3,000 square foot space.

“I’m really glad that Pinckney has the library and values that system,” Knapp said. “I’m glad we still have them.”

Over the past two months we’ve traveled throughout the state to see how libraries in Michigan are serving curious Michiganders. See the rest of our stories on Michigan libraries here and here.

– Carolyn Gearig and Paula Friedrich

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