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Vis­itors enjoy books at the Hillsdale Com­munity Library.
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After receiving a $15,000 grant to hire a full time librarian, the Hillsdale Com­munity Library has been working to increase its children’s programs.

The grant came in late August from the Michigan Human­ities Orga­ni­za­tions Pan­demic Emer­gency grant fund, which is designed to help Michigan cul­tural and com­munity orga­ni­za­tions impacted by COVID-19, according to the Winter 2021 City of Hillsdale news release.

Marta Roberts is the new children’s librarian and she now pre­sides over all the children’s pro­grams, according to Jim Bowen, pres­ident of the library board. The funds from the grant go toward her salary.

The youth pro­grams are open to all children in the area and include a science club, an arts-and-crafts club, a lego club, and more, according to the City’s news release. Patrons do not need library cards to participate.

The library has con­sis­tently struggled with funding for a few years, according to Bowen. 

“We had had a full time chil­dren’s librarian, but that position was reduced to part time in 2019 due to some ongoing funding issues with the library,” Bowen said. “About the time the library director started to look at filling the position, the pan­demic hap­pened so the position remained open.”

Though library staffers were inter­ested in rein­stating the position earlier, the library was not able to offer any pro­gramming during the pan­demic, Bowen said. The former library director requested a grant before she resigned in July 2021. 

“Due to the sig­nif­icant funding decrease that the library saw last year,” Bowen said, “we probably wouldn’t have been able to add the chil­dren’s librarian as quickly as we were able to if not for the grant.”

Bowen hopes to offer the same ser­vices as the library pre­vi­ously offered before COVID-19. 

“Ulti­mately what we’d like to do is be able to get back to the level of pro­gramming and events that were offered for children before the pan­demic,” Bowen said.