The Kalamazoo Public Library, and Oshtemo Branch in particular, have been a blessing and resource to me. As a child, my mom took me to the Oshtemo Branch Library to borrow books and enjoy children’s programs. At that time, we could even check out puzzles, games, and stuffed animals. There were many books we checked out repeatedly... and a few puzzles.
As a teenager, a neighbor was working as a page at the Oshtemo Branch, and she recommended that I might like to do the same. I worked as a library page at the Oshtemo Branch library for seven satisfying years, starting out shelving books, working up to checking out patrons, and ending with adding books to the collection. I learned responsibility, following a schedule, organization skills, and that co-workers can be friends for life. I still treasure my friendship with Fran Junker and Betsie Branch. My years at Oshtemo were spent in the old two-room schoolhouse... which two of my siblings had attended when it was still a school.
I have witnessed many changes within the Kalamazoo Public Library over the years. Oshtemo branch is now a castle-style building with more than enough shelves for the books, videos, games, magazines, etc. (no more squishing and purging to make the new books fit). The main library downtown has been renovated at least 3 times within my 37 years, and re-built from scratch once. I have seen computers come, internet availability, and now even self-checkout is available! When I worked at the library in the late 1990’s, it was changing from an actual 3-D card catalog to an online catalog, which has been much enhanced over the years. I believe it was originally called Carolyn, and now it’s a full-service website including the ability to order materials and request additions to the collection.
These days, I often request materials over the web that I may pick up when I receive an e-mail of their availability, attend classes offered at the various locations on many topics, and take pleasure in the opportunity to browse the stakes when I have time. There are even resources offered by KPL that I have access to just because I have a KPL library card: The Michigan Library Consortium, a reciprocal card at the Portage District Library, and a discount to the Air Zoo for a couple of years, just to name a few. Betsie is now a librarian in Illinois, Fran still works at Oshtemo Branch where she always greets me warmly, and I am making new friends as the staff has grown just as the collection of materials has grown. The library is not just a place for books or videos or music to me, it’s a place filled with blessings, knowledge, and friends. I am very blessed to have such a wonderful library right here in my community. Thank you KPL!!!