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Briggs District Library News

Briggs District Library News

July 17, 2016

When Less Doesn’t Mean More
Library Hopes to Meet Patron’s Needs through Millage Request

St. Johns, MI – Reduced hours, less services and a smaller circulation collection – all of these items are the result of decreased funding for Briggs District Library in St. Johns.

On the upcoming August 2 ballot, Briggs District Library is requesting .75 mills for ten years, which will account for 77% of the Library’s operating budget. The remaining budget will come from state aid, penal fines, library fines and fees. The millage request replaces any Library millage currently in place, and is less than the current one for residents of the City of St. Johns.

A combination of declining property values and reduced state aid and penal fines after the 2008 economic downturn resulted in a budget decrease for Briggs District Library of more than $100,000. Currently, the Library is operating with a budget that is nearly 40% less than other Class IV libraries in the state. The millage request will return the Library’s operating budget to pre-recession levels and come much closer to the state average.

To continue to best serve the community, the Library has already implemented a number of strategies and initiatives to close the funding gap, including:

  • reducing full-time positions
  • adjusting operating hours
  • tightening the maintenance budget

Still, the Library has had to dip into reserve money to achieve a balanced budget. If the millage does not pass, more staffing changes and hour reductions are guaranteed. The lack of funding creates a problem when patron surveys show a desire for longer hours, more programs for all ages and increased digital resources.

“The biggest change patrons have commented on is the fact that we cannot afford to purchase multiple copies of popular titles, which leads to long hold lists and wait times. Though our e-books and programming have not necessarily decreased, we haven’t had the opportunity to expand and meet the needs of the community either,” says Library Director Sara Morrison.

Each municipality within the St. Johns Public School District will see the Briggs District Library millage request on the August 2 ballot. The change from Briggs Public Library to Briggs District Library earlier this year allows them to request equal funds from each resident in the municipalities it serves, including the City of St. Johns, Bingham Township and a portion of Greenbush, Olive, Essex, Riley, Bengal, Victor and Westphalia townships.

If the millage passes, the Library plans to meet the requests of patrons, such as longer hours, increased print and digital collections, more programming for adults/young adults and improvements to the facilities.


July 1, 2016

Briggs District Library in the News
Library Staff Appear on Local News Program to Discuss Children's Garden

Recently, our director Sara and one of our employees, Elizabeth, were on Fox 47's Morning Blend program to talk about the Rae Johnson Children's Garden and our Garden Buddies program. Check out the video here.


June 24, 2016

Beating Summer Brain Drain
Crucial Skills Stay Sharp with Hands-On Learning at the Library

St. Johns, MI – Over summer vacation, the equivalent of one month of overall learning can be lost, causing teachers to use the first six weeks in fall to cover old material instead of moving forward. Briggs District Library is helping combat summer learning loss with S.A.M. (Science, Art and Math) in the Summer, a program dedicated to helping keep crucial academic skills sharp throughout vacation.

The program takes place on Thursdays from 3-4 pm at the Library in St. Johns and will run through the end of August. Each month focuses on a different subject with grade-level appropriate, hands-on activities.  June focuses on art, while July will focus on science and August will reinforce math skills. S.A.M in the Summer is designed with elementary children grades 1-6 in mind, keeping area children in practice and setting their future up for success and advancement.

While the amount of learning loss can vary across grade levels, subject and socio-economic status, math and reading skills are most likely to decline significantly over the summer. One student can lose up to three months of academic skills over summer vacation from lack of use. This loss of learning over the summer can follow a child throughout their entire life, as well. By the 6th grade, children that have experienced summer learning loss are an average of two years behind their peers.

First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama had this to say about the importance of continued learning over summer vacation: “It should be a time to get ahead, to branch out and learn new skills, and to have new experiences, like acting in a play or doing some outdoor learning.” Briggs District Library provides the chance to do all of these things.

In addition to the program, Briggs District Library offers regular, ongoing children’s reading programs for various ages, from young children through teens. More challenging reading programs, such as Chapter Chatter and the Summer Reading Program, present the opportunity to tie critical thinking skills to the Library’s traditional reading programs.

The change from Briggs Public Library to Briggs District Library allows them to serve the entire St. Johns School District, so all children from the school are welcome to participate in the program. For more schedule information or to register your child, please visit BriggsDistrictLibrary.org.


June 14, 2016

Long time Briggs Library Staff Member Receives Recognition
Marie Geller is honored with Patron Services Award at 2016 Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference

 ST. JOHNS, Mich. - Marie Geller was awarded the 2016 Patron Services Award on May 5, 2016 in front of approximately 500 librarians at the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference.  The award is given at the bi-annual conference recognizing a librarian from a small or rural library who has made significant contribution to, and a positive impact on, library services to patrons through outstanding program(s) or services.

Marie was nominated by Library Director, Sara Morrison.  The nomination packet included letters of support written by a colleague, a former Library Board Member and several patrons.

Marie started working at the Library when she was still in high school.  After taking several years off, Marie returned in 1978 and has served the Briggs Library and community for over 37 years.  She is currently the Children’s Services Coordinator.

“Marie is the heart and soul of our Library.  Without her dedication, creativity and drive the Library would not be where it is today.   She does not seek out or expect accolades for a job well done.  She goes the extra mile because she believes in the value of the Library to change lives and she truly enjoys what she does.  After over 37 years of service to the Briggs Library, Marie Geller deserves to be recognized by her peers for a job well done.  The Library and community have been very lucky to have been blessed with such a talented individual.” stated Library Director, Sara Morrison.


June 7, 2016

Putting Down Roots
Briggs District Library Garden Program Starts with the Basics

St. Johns, MI – April showers bring May flowers, but the children of the St. Johns area will be the tending to the new blooms throughout the summer. Briggs District Library’s new program, Garden Buddies, begins June 8 and offers children the chance to learn what it takes to grow the food we eat and the flowers we love.

The program takes place in the Rae Johnson Children’s Garden just behind the Library. This program was made possible through a generous donation by Johnson’s family after she passed away last summer. She was a frequent patron of the Library and an avid gardener, as well as an educator in Lansing Public Schools. The memorial garden at the Library combines these three of her passions in a community-focused program for children.  

Garden Buddies kicked off on May 25 with prepping, weeding and planting seeds for peppers, marigolds and other types of plants. Registration for the program remains open, and children in St. Johns School District and the surrounding areas entering grades 2 – 6 are eligible to participate. Garden Buddies will meet each Wednesday beginning on June 8 through July 27 at 108 E. Railroad Street in St. Johns.

In addition to Garden Buddies, the Library has summer programs for patrons of all ages, including a Summer Reading Program, Bookaholics Book Club, Documentary Features, Book Sales and more.

Briggs District Library, formerly Briggs Public Library, nurtures and supports a lifelong love of reading for the residents of the St. Johns School District. The Library creates a friendly space for patrons to access information, explore their interests and, of course, enjoy a good story. The expansion of the service area beyond the city of St. Johns to include all of the St. Johns School District allows the Library to serve more patrons without requiring an out of service area fee.