The Traverse Area District Library (TADL) main building on Woodmere Avenue distributes over one million items to more than 400,000 visitors annually. But while the building is often bustling with life, librarian Michele Howard calls the site’s outdoor spaces “long-forgotten books left on shelves to collect dust.” Now, thanks to a successful community fundraising campaign and a corresponding state grant, TADL will renovate the front lawn in 2023 to create reading areas, garden spaces and amenities for various communities and libraries. We are planning to be able to respond to the event of.
Planted for more than 24 years, the sprawling front lawn along Woodmere Avenue has become an “overgrown mess,” Howard said. The lawn is usually bypassed by patrons who go straight to the building due to the lack of amenities such as benches, awnings, and comfortable places to read and rest that would entice visitors to linger. But things started to change during the pandemic. TADL has begun moving events outdoors to safely accommodate visitors.
“We moved a lot of our programs outside because a lot of people felt uncomfortable being inside the building,” says Howard. “People loved it. Outdoors rose to the top of the list. Respondents said they love libraries, but “I’d like to see more of them outside,” says Howard. TADL also had recognition problems. Due to the lack of signage in the main building’s forecourt, many passers-by and residents of adjacent areas such as Traverse Heights were unaware that the building was even a library.
“Some people thought we were a county building,” laughs Howard. “We knew we needed an autograph. It’s been on our wishlist for nearly 20 years.” Howard learned about a grant opportunity through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) from Traverse City Mayor Pro Tem Amy Shamroe. The Public Spaces Community Places program is a grant match program that utilizes donation-based crowdfunding to revitalize or create public spaces. If TADL can raise $25,000 from the community, MEDC will provide him with a $25,000 match, generating enough money not only to cover the sign project, but to revitalize the entire front lawn. .
Fundraising can often be a challenge for public libraries, but this particular story has a happy ending. After launching a Patronicity campaign for its new Lifelong Learning Lawn earlier this month, patrons quickly stepped up to support the cause. TADL has already raised his $25,980, surpassing his $25,000 goal from 126 patrons before the December 31st deadline. The campaign means his MEDC match of $25,000 has been secured, and additional donations from the community will be used for further improvements planned for the lawn.
There will be a new 8’x10′ TADL library sign (pictured, render above right) due to be installed this winter, along with new benches, garden features, reading space, activity areas, electricity and water improvements. Electricity will not only power the new signage, Howard says, but it will also power a host of events, from culinary events like the popular Chili Cook-Off, to community concerts, listening parties, live theater, speaker series and amplified sound for dancing. say. Shade sails provide a shaded area for reading in the summer (can be removed in the winter) and the new sensory garden is accessible to all ages and abilities. We plan to set up an art pebble path where you can decorate or donate pebbles on the path with landscaping. “We want it to be a comfortable place for the community where families can come and get a book or sit on the lawn and read and have lunch,” says Howard.
The expanded space will not only accommodate existing events like Tiny Fest and Summer Clubhouse, but also welcome new events, from expanded outdoor storytelling opportunities to fitness classes, Howard says. . Improvement of the lawn environment is also progressing. TADL plans to install a rain garden near Woodmere Avenue to prevent rainwater runoff from buildings and paved areas. Howard hopes to work with various community partners to implement front lawn improvements, such as working with SEEDS on Rain Garden.
Funds are generally released by MEDC within 45 days of a successful fundraising campaign. Staff and board members are currently working to finalize the design plan, with the goal of starting work in the spring, Howard said. The timing is particularly auspicious given the opening. With parking and trail-going traffic already increasing, Howard said the library will be a natural fit for trail-goers, especially when the front lawn is provided with new drinking fountains, shaded areas and events. I think it will be a great place to stop by. “People will want to use libraries more,” she says. “We are often financially constrained, but getting this matching grant from her has allowed us to free our ideas and dream bigger.”