Willard Library welcomes guests again and opens a new creativity studio


Battle Creek Central junior Jonathon Michaud is grateful to be back with friends downtown at the Willard Library.

“I loved coming here after school, since everything was online, I was cramped at home,” Michaud said. “I didn’t really go out much.”

The Willard Library initially closed on March 13, 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have gradually resumed their services throughout the past year and earlier in 2021.

Public relations librarian Kristine Pioch said people may have lost the habit of going to the library because of the pandemic. They are launching a campaign to welcome guests back and show how a library has more to offer beyond books.

“Libraries are a place where everyone is welcome,” said Pioch. “It’s a destination where people can explore programs, use or learn to use technology, meet other people and enjoy a creative environment. “

As part of their “Discover Willard!” campaign, all library items can be checked in without late fees until the end of September. Until October 31, Willard is equalizing dollar for dollar on existing fines.

Creative Services Librarian Jenny de Jong creates laundry hooks using a 3D printer on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at the Willard Library in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Another part of the campaign is the unveiling of a new creativity studio in the old magazine and newspaper room. Willard’s creative space opened last Thursday and consists of a new audio recording booth, film scanner, heat press, vinyl cutter and printer 3d.

The studio is open during normal library hours to library cardholders aged 14 and over. Those 13 and under can use the space in the presence of an adult.

Creative Services Librarian Jenny de Jong is available by appointment to help clients use the equipment. Walk-in orientation for the studio takes place Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“Part of our vision and mission for the library is to provide creative technology to the community,” said de Jong. “It’s a fun space to come out and be crafty.”

Second WK Kellogg prep student Zakary Clissold gives Battle Creek Central junior Jonathon Michaud a noogie inside the new audio recording booth on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at the Willard Library in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Michaud and his friend Zakary Clissold, a second year student at WK Kellogg Preparatory High School, were among the first to use the new audio recording booth.

“Sometimes we just mess around and say a few lines, I mean it’s kind of fun because you never know what you can say, especially in some form of freestyle music,” Michaud said.

Michaud and Clissold first met in the lower level teen room of the Willard Library. Teen Time is after school from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. for grades 6 to 12.

Students use the space for a variety of activities that include homework, study sessions, crafts, and board games. The room is even equipped with a PS4, a significant attraction for students.

Clissold also had a hard time when the pandemic first closed the library.

“It was pretty bad and I was living in the basement at the time,” Clissold said. “(The library) is just a place to relax.”

After a long year for students, Teen Time resumed in March 2021. The space is redesigned with a mural by famous Battle Creek artist Jaziel Pugh.

Students play video games in the Lower Level Teen Room on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at the Willard Library in Battle Creek, Michigan.

“I love coming here. I come here every day, every day that I can, ”Michaud said. “It’s a chance to do something else before you get home.”

The Willard Library collection is also growing with new books, audiobooks, DVDs and CDs.

“When the pandemic started, we stopped lending manufacturing kits and toys,” Pioch said in a press release. “Now both are available at the cashier. “

Creative kits are self-directed activities that library cardholders can view. Some examples are bird watching gear, bicycle repair tools, and even a ukulele.

Virtual “Book a Librarian” appointments are now available, where librarians can spend up to 30 minutes helping library cardholders with technology.

For more information visit Willard’s website or dial 269-968-8166, ext. 513.

Alyssa Keown is a photojournalist at the Battle Creek Enquirer. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on twitter @alyssa_keown

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