Friends ready to show off library

Published 2:28 am Wednesday, April 23, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Hard work and strong community support is behind what is today the "new" Howard Branch of the Cass District Library.
And those who have worked so hard plan an event to show it off to the community on Thursday.
M.E. Harper, Cass District Library director, said when the district bought the building on 2341 Yankee St., on Nov. 9, 2000, efforts were made to ensure the building could be opened up as a library as soon as possible.
Harper said that meant carpeting, putting in new lights, painting the interior and borrowing bookshelves from other library branches to turn what used to be a church into a library.
It took four months from the purchase in November to the opening of the library, which took place on February 15, 2001, she said.
And when the library wanted to further renovate the building's front section, the Plym Foundation came up with a matching grant worth $25,000.
The Plym Foundation grant was awarded in June 2001, and allowed renovations to be done in the building's front section, that used to be two classroom cubicles, and the roof, she said.
When it came to raising the money needed to match the Plym Foundation's grant, the community and Friends of the Howard Branch Library were there to help.
The first fund raiser for renovating the building's front section was a port-a-pit chicken dinner held in fall 2000, Mary Ann Burdue, president of the Friends of the Howard Branch library, said
She said that event alone raised $2000.
To raise more money, however, roof shingles from a church model were sold and book sales were also held at the library, she said.
In the end, $31,000 was raised; more than enough to match the grant.
And the Howard Branch of the Cass District Library seems to have filled a void for the township community.
She said it has become a community center for Howard Township, as well as providing the township with a new place to have their township meetings.
But the most exciting thing about the library is the people who have supported it, she said.
She said not only do they ask for more services, but they turn around and say they will help the library get those services.
On Thursday, April 24, at 7 p.m., the Cass District Library and the Friends of the Howard Branch will welcome spring in their new home on Yankee Street with the help of Tom Hodgson.
Not only is the event a celebration of the completion of the building.
It also marks the beginning of their Summer Reading program called "Reading…Naturally."
Hodgson, a singer and guitarist, will perform songs about the environment and nature at Thursday's event.
For the past 10 years, Hodgson has performed for schools, libraries, nature centers, festivals campgrounds and general audiences.
During that period he has reached more than 200,000 children and adults with his musical message.