The Friends have funded and contributed to several exciting library projects over the years, both small and grand. These supplement the traditional funding sources such as local taxes and public millages. Our goal is to make an awesome resource ever better through thoughtful, enriching projects and programs.
By becoming a member of the Friends, your financial contributions allow our organization to support the library, provide new programming, and promote community events.
Here is a brief list of Friend projects and programs that your contributions have helped fund:
KDL LAB MakerSpace
Freshwater fish and turtle aquarium maintenance
Community used book sales
Private study rooms
Fireplace & magazine area
Book clubs for teens, adults and families
2010 ArtPrize winner Chris LaPorte's large-scale "Ice Breakers" drawing installation
EGR architectural and trolley tours
Library expansions and renovations (1987: $90,000, 2005: $100,000)
360 degree online library photo tours via Google
Little Free Libraries in John Collins Park and Blodgett Hospital
Funding contributions to: Taste of East, Gaslight Tree Lighting Celebration, Movies in the Park
Sponsoring new library furniture, shelving, staff supplies, seasonal decorations, art supplies
Check out some of the projects in more detail below:
Freshwater Fish & Turtle Aquarium
Our freshwater aquarium is home to several species found steps away in Reeds Lake and is popular draw for kids and adults alike. The Friends raised money through community campaigns and corporate sponsorship, and are responsible for the ongoing maintenance. You'll notice the Pewabic Pottery glazed tile decorating the façade contributed by former Friends board member Ken Matheson.
Fireplace & Reading Area
The Friends contributed to the library's relaxing, cozy fireplace area. You can grab a book, browse a magazine, listen to music and enjoy the wonderful eastern views of Reeds Lake.
Chris LaPorte's "Ice Breakers"
2010 ArtPrize winner Chris LaPorte drew this large-scale paneled drawing with 2H pencils. This a connection to the city's history as it depicts a 1910 photograph of men working for the Consumers Ice company along Reeds Lake. The acquisition and installation was championed by the Friends' own Mary Dersch. You can find the drawing on the left side of the main entryway of the library. Learn more about Ice Breakers.
Little Free Libraries
The Friends maintain and stock two local Little Free Libraries, providing a complementary book exchange for the public. You can find one at the north entrance of John Collins Park along Reeds Lake, the other is located on the 2nd floor of the Blodgett Memorial Hospital surgical unit - serving patients and families during their stay. The libraries promote readership for all ages and are a fun way to extend the reach of our the main library branch. Search the Little Free Library World Map to find the John Collins location: https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/ .
Private Glass Study Rooms
Private Glass Study Rooms funded by the Friends and located on the upper level were installed before 2016. These 'rooms within rooms' provide a quiet space for individual study, tutoring and groups of two to eight.
KDL LAB MakerSpace
In 2016 the Friends funded the first glass-enclosed KDL LAB MakerSpace room on the lower level in the children’s area. In 2020 the second glass room was installed creating an expanded area for activities such as the Lego League. Both these rooms serve as areas for creativity and also quiet study. These areas are all about STEAM, prototyping and even planting seeds. Check out the 3D printer too!
Teen Zone Area
Located on the lower level is a very popular after school spot for kids in the age 11 – 17 age groups. The Friends have provided supplies for many Teen Zone activities; including snacks, craft programs and special parties. In addition, our organization has purchased chairs, recovered chairs and given funds for other assorted fun things such as pillows and decorative carpets. A cool place to chill after school.
Used Book Sales
The Friends host one or two major book sale events each year, often held in the Parks and Recreation rooms on the lower level of the Community Center. These highly anticipated sales offer a huge selection of used adult and children's books, puzzles, CDs and other resources. Thousands of books are sold at inexpensive prices. One of the key aspects of being a member is the pre-sale, giving access to the best titles before the general public comes through. It's a lot of work to prepare, host, and staff - but this community offering is a big part of the Friends' mission.
The Friends regularly fund prominent author visits to the library and East Grand Rapids Public Schools. We've seen success in both virtual and in-person visits with opportunities for kids to meet the authors, participate in live Q&A sessions, and opportunities to purchase works from Schuler Books. In 2021 we welcomed internationally acclaimed author Angela Dominguez.