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About the Ravenna Branch

Focus on Ravenna Branch Library

Libraries across the country are—transforming. Everywhere you see libraries making capital investments to meet the changes needed in the twenty-first century. These changes include the rapid evolution in technology, more community gathering spaces, study areas and media centers.

This places demands on old buildings that need more flexible space or even additional space to provide essential services. No branch better exemplifies that change at MADL than the Ravenna Branch. In 2012 a young girl went to Storytime and after it was finished she saw her grandfather. She told him she loved Storytime but it was “too crowded.” The grandfather was Greg Russell, a township trustee. Russell attended Storytime the next week with his granddaughter.

What he saw shocked him. The kids were crowded into a small space in the Library and many kids were sitting on each other’s laps. Immediately Russell left the building and went into the parking lot next to the Library and paced off the square footage to increase the size of the building. He then called a contractor friend in town and asked what it would cost to enclose the space. Thus began the process of doubling the size of the Library.

Working together, Ravenna Township and Muskegon Area District Library officials came up with a plan and the community got excited and rallied to support it with donations. As momentum built and the project moved forward, there was some unexpected “serendipity” that helped the project’s success. MADL suggested that the Township contact Baker College in Muskegon to see if their Interior Design Department could have students design the interior space. Baker College jumped on the opportunity and their students designed a modern layout for the branch. Then someone discovered that a local bookstore was closing and they had furnishings for sale. All of the interior matching furniture in the branch came from that sale, including the circulation desk.

The branch now holds an expanded children’s space for all size gatherings. It has a room with a fireplace for community gatherings or meetings, which includes a projector and screen for movies or presentations. It has more space for public computers and offers Wi-Fi. Local contractors did all of the work. According to Ravenna Township Treasurer Sonja Patterson, “We stayed on budget, in the black.” At a cost of about $275,000, they now have a space that will serve the community for years to come. Before retiring, long time Ravenna Branch Manager Diane Landheer said watching this transformation was the highlight of her Library career. “After working for years in a tight, cramped building it was great to see the butterfly come out of the cocoon.”

Unfortunately Mr. Russell passed away before the project was completed, but his family was at the ribbon-cutting to honor him. A memorial plaque in his honor hangs on the wall at the Ravenna branch.