Your Stories

KPL patrons use the library in many different ways, depending on their needs and interests. Several patrons have chosen to share their stories with us. Tell us your story!

A - C

Adler Family

Visiting the library is an Adler family tradition dating from grandmother Caryn’s childhood in Niles with her mom, Judy. Caryn passed that legacy on to a brood of foster children through Story Hour at the Central Library. ...

Pastor Joseph L. Anderson

You might expect Pastor Joseph L. Anderson, vice president for Young Black Males’ Advocates for Justice, to know his way around the KPL Law Library. Anderson, pastor of City of Refuge Church of God in Christ says ...

Selena Anderson

Homework and research draw Genett Andersons’s children, Selena, 11, and her brother Rico, 15, to their Washington Square neighborhood library or to the Central Library downtown. But it’s the children’s authors programs ...

Arledge Family

Saturday mornings find Jamie and Ryan Arledge and their two children—Marlaina, a second grader and Caleb, a kindergartner—in the children’s room at Central library. “I’ve loved having these resources for our kids,” says Jamie. ...

Marguerite Baechtold

Marguerite Baechtold knows libraries. She taught library science at Western Michigan University for many years. Today, she’s a volunteer librarian and heads the library committee at Friendship Village where she lives and continues to read. ...

Robert Barnard

The back-yard mechanic isn’t gone, says Robert Barnard, Kalamazoo County Commissioner and owner of Barnard Building and Construction. But if you haven’t seen him (or her) around lately, check the library. ...

Lori Beard

Lori Beard is a kid-in-a-candy-store talking about KPL. “It’s the world’s biggest free book store,” she says. Lori was a die-hard book buyer until she moved into the district. A garage sale later, she’s a regular at her neighborhood Eastwood Branch. “It has an intimate feeling,” she says. ...

Barb Beck

Your law library has been an excellent resource for me over the past year. Circumstances following my divorce required my appearance, once again, in Court. Rather than paying an attorney to represent me (too deep in debt ...

Monica Bennett

A veracious reader, Monica discovered the books-by-mail service through the library’s outreach services department two years ago. One phone call gives her direct access to KPL’s entire repertoire of books. ...

Simon Boehme

“T.A.B. (Teen Advisory Board) is for kids who not only enjoy reading, but just like to have fun,” explains Simon Boehme, a 17-year-old Kalamazoo Central High School student who served on the T.A.B. executive board when he was 14. ...

Kim Bourner

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. ...

Sue Brandt

Curious by nature, when Sue Brandt hears something that interests her, she likes to learn more. Such was the case when she read that Robert Oppenheimer named the nation’s first nuclear test weapon for a John Donne poem. ...

Kathe and Dale Burnham

PlumCrazzy owners Dale and Kathe Burnham did their homework before opening their popular ice cream parlor. That included attending a three-hour small business resource class at the Central Library. “There is a lot you need to know ...

Sally Callahan

When the challenges of age confine you to a nursing home—and arthritis and blindness further limit you—books can serve as a lifeline, says Sally Callahan, a retired Sisters of St. Joseph nun who helps the sisters of the Borgess Nursing Home in their quest for good audio reading material. ...

Gay Guard-Chamberlin

As a child, Gay Guard Chamberlain’s mother instilled in her a reverential love of books and a passion for reading. “It was almost like a religion for her,” Gay says. “It was her goal to have shelves from floor to ceiling filled with books ...

D - F

Erika Dowdell

Growing up a 10-minute walk from Powell branch, Erika Dowdell spent summers there. She came to think of the staff as family and the library as an extended home. “My brothers and sisters and I would walk or ride bikes here ...

Karol Evans

Karol Evans has come to think of the Eastwood Branch Library as a home away from home. And where better to escape the Michigan winter doldrums than a cheerful place filled with adventure and friendly faces? ...

Erma Ezell

Erma Ezell may hold the record for patronage of the Powell Branch Library—she’s been using its resources for more than 50 years. “I used it when my children were little. Now that I’ve retired, I’ve rediscovered it,” she says. ...

Connie Ferguson

A fan and friend of the library for more than 30 years, Connie Ferguson is also an active member of the Kalamazoo Area League of Women Voters, which reaches local voters through KPL. “The Library is one of our best distribution points for voter guides ...

G - I

Gail Galbreath

Gail Galbreath is a woman who likes to multitask. “I was sewing Halloween costumes and realized, I could also be listening to audio books,” she says. And so began Gail’s search for the perfect solution. “I tried listening to CDs ...

Mildred Hawkins

A full-time mom, Mildred Hawkins’ days are filled tending to family needs. But she still finds time for reading, and she has instilled a love of books and a priority of reading in her three children, Mia, 5, W.K.IV, 12, and Jadon, 17. ...

Hollins Family

Like many families, KPL’s educational resources benefit the Hollins children. But for Sonya, a work-from-home freelance writer/editor/writing-consultant mom, the Central Library serves as office. ...

J - L

Renee Johnson

A slip of paper with the name of a father she never knew was all Renee Johnson had when she walked into a KPL genealogy lock-in. Five years later, Renee not only knows more about her father, she’s uncovered much of her great, great grandmother’s life story and even tracked down a great aunt ...

Gaye Kelly

“Our twins were 3 years old in when we moved to Kalamazoo in 1969,” says former KPS reading specialist Gaye Kelly. “It was at that time we began making our weekly trips to KPL. The librarians were helpful, always happy to see us ...

Theresa Knapp

Growing up, Theresa Knapp never learned to use the library. “That’s just something I didn’t do. It was actually scary. When I was in high school, I’d ask the librarian for help,” Theresa says. But a computer class at KPL changed that. ...

Elizabeth Kutsche

A bad day for Elizabeth Kutsche is when her home reserve of books runs low. “That’s panic time,” says Kutsche, an octogenarian who calls books her ‘emotional nourishment.’ “It sounds dramatic, I know, but books are so therapeutic. ...

Carson Leftwich

“I grew up coming to the library as a child in the sixties and remember being fascinated by the tiny furniture: just the right size for me! When I was about eleven I wanted to check out a book from the adult section and was denied because I wasn’t old enough. ...

M - O

Linda Mah, Bill Wood and Family

You might expect writers like Linda Mah and Bill Wood, both reporters for the Kalamazoo Gazette, to raise readers of their daughters Ava and Lena. But there was another reason the twins were introduced to the library at an early age. ...

Larry B. Massie

Two years ago, Michigan historian, author and storyteller Larry B. Massie helped create an exhibit for Flint’s Sloan Museum on the sit-down strike of 1936 and 1937 that launched the UAW as a union powerhouse. ...

Daniel McCartney

I am the banjo player for Who Hit John?, a five piece old time string band here in Kalamazoo. Three years ago, I hadn’t even touched a banjo. I bought a cheap open back Rouge online and immediately went to the library to look for help ...

Molly Mechtenberg

Moving to a new community is challenging at any age. But the world of Amos Mechtenberg, just 2 ½-years old when his family arrived in Kalamazoo, was about to be rocked again — mother Molly was pregnant with his brother, Jonah. ...

Greg Minnick

Passionate about cars —driving them, working on them and keeping them in peak form —Greg Minnick has an entrepreneur’s heart. Two years ago, with the Library’s help, Greg launched Flying Dog Garage Import Auto Repair in Parchment. ...

Pat Norris

Former Kalamazoo Valley Museum director and adjunct Western Michigan University history professor Pat Norris is an avid fan of the Friends of the Library Bookstore. “It fulfills the library’s mission to foster literacy by giving people a book ...

Michelle Overbeek

It is just possible that the Overbeek children developed their love for community through the Kalamazoo Public Library. College freshmen, twins Benjamin and Craig Overbeek have both chosen careers in community service. ...

P - R

Sheran Pearson

A woman of strong faith, when Sheran Pearson’s son was sentenced to prison, she used the experience to form Young Black Males’ Advocates for Justice, whose mission is educating families of incarcerated young people. ...

Rebecca Pollens

Rebecca Pollens loves to read; she’s instilled that love of reading in her children, too. Borrowing books means “you can try a wide variety without having collections of books pile up for each family member” ...

Reed Family

The Reed family—Michael, Marla, and daughters Rachel (who is 13 and a student at Maple Magnet School for the Arts) and Maureen (age 10 and a student at Parkwood-Upjohn Elementary School)—is very impressed by KPL's growing video selection ...

S - U

Carol Schreiner

Carol Schreiner loves the short two-block walk to the Central Library from her downtown residence. Using the library is a habit she developed as a child growing up in Detroit. “Some of my fondest memories are of going to the library ...

Becky Searles

The first library I got to know was the old Eastwood Branch, on East Main. Alma Powell was the librarian. By the 4th grade, I was reading 1½ years ahead of my grade level, and was a voracious reader. I would read 4-6 books a week. (still do) ...

Carla Stratton

Wednesday night is family night for doctor Carla Stratton, DC, her daughter Brenna, 8, and son Ben, 6. “We go to the library once a week like clockwork. It’s especially important during school, when we don’t get to spend as much time together. ...

Teresa Teerink

With a library card and access to the Internet, Teresa Teerink may be well on her way to launching a new business. “My husband’s brother-in-law manufactures horse trailers in Europe and we’d like to expand into the American market,” Teresa explains. ...

V - Z

Michael Van Putten

A native Kalamazooan, Michael Van Putten grew up visiting the Bookmobile, and he says the Kalamazoo Public Library has always been a part of his life. But now, Michael’s daily work commute to Lansing doesn’t allow him much time ...

Bill and Carrie Venema

Each quarter, when Link arrives in the mailbox of Bill and Carrie Venema, Carrie transfers the featured programs and events to her desk calendar. “We note the things we’re interested in — which is often most of them ...

Candace Williams

When I was laid off from my very lucrative job, I started using the library more. In the beginning it was just for the books on tape. Now I am at the library at least once a week. I read their magazines to get craft ideas to make my own gifts, borrow movies, ...