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.