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The Hub

The new Public Library quickly became a Hub providing services and meeting facilities for a variety of patrons: book clubs, garden groups, genealogical societies, and the Boy and Girl Scouts, to name a few. Men checked out books to study farming methods, learn repair techniques, and find out about the latest in technology. One of the most popular books was a manual explaining how to repair the Model T. In 1909, the Jackson Art Association organized and held lectures and mounted exhibits of artwork loaned by residents as well as from museums and galleries in Detroit, Chicago, New York, and the like.

Stereographic travels and phonographic concerts

Art Gallery 2nd Floor Carnegie Building circa 1906

Art Gallery 2nd Floor Carnegie Building circa 1906

“The Jackson Public Library is an unusual social and civic center, declares Mr. J. Jones, a newcomer here.” He particularly mentions the splendid collection of stereographic travel tours for home use, the privilege of using the library on Sunday, and the “newly-instituted phonograph concerts.” — Jackson Citizen Patriot: April 4, 1917

The Wartime Hub

In wartime the library served the community as an information hub. Posted maps showed battlefronts. Books and pamphlets helped women Hooverize intelligently so that meatless Tues and wheat-less Wed shall be days of joy and not of gloom. The juvenile section was enriched with Uncle Sam’s Boy at War and The Adventures of Arnold Adair American Ace.
During the WWI, head librarian John Clevenger led the Victory Book Drive, which sent books to camps in the U.S. and “over there.”

Jackson Head Librarian John Clevenger organized the library at nearby Camp Custer.

Jackson Head Librarian John Clevenger organized the library at nearby Camp Custer.

During WWII and the Korean Conflict the Jackson County Dad’s Service Club purchased up-to-date technology books honoring the young men and women who had served. The Public Library dedicated a room in the Carnegie Building to house these books. Jackson Junior College had a similar program for their students who served.

The Jackson Public Library was also a hub for young people. Children attended musical programs, storytelling, and library week events in the second floor children’s room. Did you know that we had stereoscopes in the children’s room? It was a viewing thing with two eyepieces and you put a card in out in front of that which had a picture on it only it had two pictures, one for your left eye and one for your right eye, and so when you looked through the lenses at it, it made it look three-dimensional. — Interview with Natalie Field: 2014

Children's group

Children’s group

Old Flappers and New Philosophers

Older Students from nearby schools came to do homework and socialize. Jackson Junior College student Len Crandall was an avid reader who often went to the public library. He wrote in his 1932 diary about books and his girlfriend Mary:

The note she wrote me in the library today seems to indicate that she really does like me. I wonder? Shall I ask her to go steady with me? I don’t know. . . Worked all day, played “hearts” at Ben’s until 11:30 and then came home and read Fitzgerald’s Flappers and Philosophers. I wish I could write like that. — Jackson Junior College student Len Crandall: 1932

Jackson Junior College students in front of Marsh Hall circa 1930

Jackson Junior College students in front of Marsh Hall circa 1930

The City Library was doing a yeoman’s job of providing services for city residents. But county residents were underserved. They were hesitant to come to the big city and could not check out books at the library. What did people in rural Jackson County do to satisfy their “book hunger?”

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Tessa’s Paranormal Romance Review: Burn for Me: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is a husband-wife team known for urban fantasy. They already have two great series going: Kate Daniels and The Edge. Both these series start off with some great world-building and entertaining characters. Now the Andrews have another new series which veers more towards romance than the others, although the first two series have elements of romance as well.

Readers have already commented on the cover—it’s misleading. The half-naked man and sexy outfit on the woman would make you think this was a bodice ripper or steamy romance. Instead this book has enough plotting, substance and character that my husband is enjoying it.


This series is set in Houston, where the main character, Nevada, runs a detective agency with her family’s help. But the Houston in the book is way different from our reality: superpowers have appeared, result of a serum created in the 1800’s, and most power and influence resides in the Houses (families) of those who have the greatest powers.

Two catastrophically powerful men are on a collision course as one uses the other’s teenaged nephew to rob a bank. Nevada is employed by the huge detective business that holds her loan—but it’s all for show, since the firm knows she doesn’t have the magic to bring in this incredible fire mage. If she refuses, she loses her home and business, putting her family out on the street. But if she contacts him, he will probably kill her. Nevada must be skilled and wily to get herself out of this situation.

All the books by this team are recommended! Give them a try. ~ Tessa July 2015 3.75 out of 5 stars


The Munificent Gift

Andrew Carnegie circa 1880

Andrew Carnegie circa 1880

Industrialist Andrew Carnegie established the Carnegie Library Fund to create libraries around the country. In 1900, a library committee in Jackson applied. Funding was calculated on a strict formula based on population. The city agreed to purchase the necessary land and provide annual operating funds. Carnegie generously awarded Jackson $50,000, but “JACKSON WANTED A LIBRARY LIKE NONE OTHER.”

Plans went over budget by $20,000.


Old Friends

Mrs. R. H. ( Zelie) Emerson, a member of the Jackson Library Committee, wrote Carnegie, via his secretary, asking for the additional funds to “build the building Jackson deserves.”

Mr. Bertram, The current Library is located on the second floor of a good block on a business street, about in the center of the town. There is no elevator. Its quarters are pleasant, but as it occupies the whole floor; there is no chance of expansion. The book space is cramped, and the reading-room entirely too small for the growing attendance of the public-especially the children who are there in great numbers. The reason my previous letter was not typewritten is that it is in a way a personal letter to Mr. Carnegie. We were old friends in Pittsburgh years ago. Will you kindly see that it meets his eye? — Zelie Passavant Emerson: 1900

Zelie Emerson circa 1880

Zelie Emerson circa 1880

They were indeed old friends. As a young girl, Zelie Passavant and Andrew Carnegie had even spoken of marriage. Her father, William Passavant, a well-known Lutheran minister, objected on religious grounds. Zelie took the train to Pittsburgh to make her case, and in honor of their past friendship, Carnegie granted Jackson an additional $20,000.


My Dear Mr. Carnegie: Two years ago you gave us $70,000 for a Public Library. The City bought a magnificent site on Main Street. The bids overrun the sum given us at least $25,000 owing to the great advance in the cost of materials and labor. Nothing could be done to lessen the cost without cheapening the construction and so spoiling the building. You would not wish us to change it in any single particular. We would deeply appreciate your favorable consideration of this matter. Yours ever sincerely, Zelie Passavant Emerson: Feb. 14, 1903

Mr. Carnegie said “no.”

My dear Mr. Carnegie, believe me that the people of Jackson deeply appreciate your generous gift. The library building in its simple and serene beauty has set a new and high Ideal for public buildings in our town, and its perfect adaptation to all library needs will provide for the city a library home for ½ Century to come. — Zelie Passavant Emerson

The Building is a Peach

The building was due to finish in 1904, but labor unrest and construction problems increased the costs and delayed the opening for two years. The Carnegie building finally opened on August 21, 1906, to great fanfare.

There will be no more jibes and jeers as to when the new library will open its doors. They actually opened Monday morning. It’s safe to say Librarian Waldo was the happiest woman in Jackson. But the building is a peach–and its magnificence and convenience goes far to compensate for the long delay. Hundreds of our townspeople visited the library Monday and Tuesday to inspect its beauty and several ladies left flowers. — Saturday Evening Star: August 1906

Carnegie Building circa 1906

Carnegie Building circa 1906

My grandmother regularly attended the library to upgrade her skills and keep current with what was going on. I remember her taking us there and she told us the whole story of how Mr. Carnegie gave us the money to build the library and it was a place of learning and a place to be revered and held high in esteem in the community. — Interview with Dr. Edward Mathein:2014

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July/August 2015 Newsletter

From Reading Room to Public Library: A 150 Year Journey

Here Lynne Loftis and Diana Agy share the latest in a series of richly detailed and thoroughly researched pieces covering Jackson District Library’s 150 years of history. Find ways to explore the state’s destinations at reduced cost via the library, with the Michigan Activity Pass. And more summer fun is on the way, as we highlight several databases that can help you see what Detroit looked like in 1835, or appraise antique furniture. Let’s get this summer started!





The Michigan Activity Pass

The Michigan Activity Pass

Once you print a free Michigan Activity Pass you have one week to use it at any Michigan state park or recreation area, or at more than 100 participating cultural institutions, including many museums.

To take advantage of these offers you will need a valid JDL library card and you will need to print a pass—either from home or at your local branch.

To see what’s available you can do a simple search within a geographic range or do an advanced search, with limiters like “Kid Friendly” or “Music/Theater” or “State Parks.” This works great if you are vacationing at the lakes or enjoying the attractions that are close to home.

Local Jackson County attractions include Walker Tavern, near Brooklyn or the Mann House Historic Site, in Concord. Or use the pass to investigate the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic Site at Cass City, or Tawas Point Lighthouse in East Tawas. Shepler’s Ferry Service is offering discounts on their ferry rides to Mackinac Island. There is so much to see and do!

Check out the Michigan Activity Pass guide for help.



Rollicking Fun Series Review: Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding

What a fun series—these would make excellent action adventure movies! Having read books one and two—Retribution Falls and The Black Lung Captain—I recommend this series to anyone who wants a light-hearted romp through a fantastic world populated with flawed, funny characters. Frequently throwing readers reminders of Star Wars mixed with Indiana Jones and, especially, Firefly, the entertainment factor of these books is A+. If you loved any of these movies, don’t miss the Ketty Jay series.


The Ketty Jay is an airship captained by Darian Frey, a man too handsome to die. Darian’s crew knows their secrets are safe on this ship, although it means they might not get paid. Often. Maybe ever. They take the occasional pirate treasure deal, smuggle, and, of course, rescue those in distress no matter the cost.












By the end of the first book, you know their secrets, too—the doctor’s drinking, the daemonist’s horrible crime and his huge metal companion, the new navigator’s strange lack of a heartbeat, the two fighter pilots—Pinn the lovelorn and Harkins the traumatized, a silent engineer, the captain’s love ‘em and leave ‘em disasters. Even a feral ship cat named Slag. Slag has a major role in the second book, look for him and the Cowardly Fighter Pilot Harkins to stalk one another into hysteria. I read the first chapter of the second book and started laughing…I didn’t stop laughing often, either. Hmm, might even have to buy these. ~ Tessa 4.5 stars out of 5 June 2015

Note: These aren’t true steampunk books, but there are a lot of things that feel that way…


The Free Public Library

While the YMA was open only to members, public-spirited men such as W.H. Withington, George Dodge, and Michael Shoemaker were instrumental in the opening of a free public library in Jackson.

As YMA president, George Dodge declared:

Let this free library be once established, and every citizen will
look upon it with pride, would willingly be taxed for its support,
and the time will not be far distant when as a city we may justly
be proud of a library which is positively free to both the rich and
the poor alike. Its influence for good could not be estimated; its
power as an educator of the people would be unmeasurable. — George Dodge: YMA Minutes 1882

The free public library moved to the Bloomfield block on Mechanic and West Washington in 1895.

The free public library moved to the Bloomfield block on Mechanic and West Washington in 1895.

The Free Public Library

Many groups took advantage of the programs and literature offered at the public library. Jackson had a large German population, and the library served it by regularly acquiring German books. Lists of new books were published in the local newspapers, including the German paper, the Volkefreund.

While men used the library reading room to read their newspapers and periodicals, the most active users of the public library were women. Many belonged to women’s clubs, literary clubs and book clubs. They not only eagerly borrowed books but also frequently used the library to conduct research for programs they presented at their club meetings.

Jackson's Tuesday Club circa 1885

Jackson’s Tuesday Club circa 1885

These women’s clubs, of no mean size, come here to find help in
their work, often taxing the Library’s usefulness and capacity
to its utmost extent. — Celia Waldo, Head Librarian: 1889 Annual Report

Children were frequent users of the library. Staff designed programs such as Storyhour and magic lantern shows to encourage reading and to familiarize children to the library.

Children flock here by the hundreds every day. Out of a circulation
of a hundred thousand books every year, a generous third of them
are charged to these little men and women. The boys and girls of
today are the legislators of tomorrow. — Celia Waldo, Head Librarian: 1889 Annual Report

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The 2015 Young Poets

This year there were 1179 entries from students throughout Jackson County! Entries were received from 33 Jackson County schools representing 12 school districts as well as charter and parochial schools. In addition, 32 homeschooled students submitted poetry. The judges were extremely impressed with the efforts displayed in the poems submitted.

2015 Young Poets Contest Prize Winning Entries

  1. Red
  2. Fish
  3. Pink
  4. Bald Eagle
  5. What Christmas is to Me
  6. Snowman
  7. Elsa the Snail
  8. Sick Puppies
  9. Tan Crayon
  10. The Robber’s Plan
  11. On A Rainy Day
  12. Wrestling
  13. The Farm Horse
  14. Hot Cocoa
  15. Sad
  16. What If
  17. Forever
  18. Hockey Pucks
  19. Winter
  20. Winter Toads
  21. Hat and Head
  22. Spring
  23. Fiery Dragons
  24. The Outdoors
  25. A Summer Day
  26. New York
  27. Fish On!
  28. Music
  29. Rivalry
  30. Julliard
  31. Father-less
  32. Gravity
  33. If I Had a Twin
  34. 365 Words of the Solar System
  35. My Nightmares Are The Happiest Places I Know
  36. Empty Government
  37. I Shall Be King
  38. T’was the Night Before States
  39. The War for September
  40. Twas the Day After Tryouts
  41. Cant Pause a Passion
  42. A changed World
  43. Kite
  44. Heart Failure
  45. The Ones on Death Row

This year, we were particularly honored to welcome nationally renowned children’s poet and musician Barry Louis Polisar to our awards ceremony.


Owen Warner, Jackson Christian Elementary, First Place for Red
Andrew Barney, Jackson Christian Elementary, Second Place for Fish
Halee Krage, Jackson Christian Elementary, Third Place for Winter
Kellen Tiffany, Parnall Elementary, Honorable Mention for Pink

1st Grade

Cody Oldre, George Long Elementary, First Place for Bald Eagle
Benjamin Fannin, Pioneers Homeschool Co-op, Second Place for What Christmas is to Me
Lily Mead, Queen of the Miraculous Medal, Third Place for Snowman
Becca Page, Queen of the Miraculous Medal, Honorable Mention for Elsa the Snail

2nd Grade

Annie Locke, Queen of the Miraculous Medal, First Place for Sick Puppies
Manix Furqueron, Concord Elementary, Second Place for Tan Crayon
Logan Schmidt, Queen of the Miraculous Medal, Third Place for The Robber’s Plan
Peyton Laura, St. John’s Elementary, Honorable Mention for On A Rainy Day

3rd Grade

Charles Simpkins, George Long Elementary, First Place for Wrestling
Opal Fomish, Townsend Elementary, Second Place for The Farm Horse
Jared Flickinger, Jackson Christian Elementary, Third Place for Hot Cocoa
Robert Anderson, George Long Elementary, Honorable Mention for Sad

4th Grade

Natalya Howard, Homeschool, First Place for What If
Faith Walsh, Homeschool, Second Place for Forever
Liam Carter, Jackson Christian Elementary, Third Place for Hockey Pucks
Katerina Fitch, Pioneers Homeschool Co-op, Honorable Mention for Winter

5th Grade

Gerald Maitland, Pioneers Homeschool Co-op, First Place for Winter Toads
Nathan Jackson, Jackson Christian Elementary, Second Place for Hat and Head
Kady Stoddard, Jackson Christian Elementary, Third Place for Spring
Troy Allison, Hanover-Horton Elementary, Honorable Mention for Hobo
Madison Sorek, Queen of the Miraculous Medal, Honorable Mention for Fiery Dragons

6th Grade

Jackson Breitenbach, Concord Middle School, First Place for My Favorite Place – The Outdoors
Katelyn File, Hanover-Horton Middle School, Second Place for Life is Like a Tree
Jessica Wilson, Hanover-Horton Middle School, Third Place for If the Past Could Tell
Monica Gazdecki, Kolbe Academy Homeschool, Honorable Mention for A Summer Day

7th Grade

Haylee Sierminski, Concord Middle School, First Place for New York
Ciara Hughes, da Vinci Primary School, Second Place for I’m Like A Song To You
Keegan Smith, Jackson Catholic Middle School, Third Place for Fish On!
Kylie Wilcox, Middle School at Parkside, Honorable Mention for Music

8th Grade

Jakob Morgan, da Vinci Primary School, First Place for Humiliation
Shea-Leigh Carris, East Jackson Secondary School, Second Place for Rivalry
Sondra Sewell, Concord Middle School, Third Place for Julliard
Alexis Mulcahy, Middle School at Parkside, Honorable Mention for Father-less

9th Grade

Taylor Gritzmaker, Columbia Central High School, First Place for Gravity
Jake Walsh, Pioneers Homeschool Co-op, Second Place for If I Had a Twin
Maria Gerring, Homeschool, Third Place for Writing
Anna Parkinson, Columbia Central High School, Honorable Mention for 365 Words of the Solar System

10th Grade

Eli Wright, da Vinci Institute High School, First Place for My Nightmares Are The Happiest Places I know
Victoria Teachout, Vandercook Lake High School, Second Place for Empty Government
Claire Childs, Hanover-Horton High School, Third Place for I Remember
Elle Redman, Hanover-Horton High School, Honorable Mention for Athletes No Longer
Brandon Shields, Hanover-Horton High School, Honorable Mention for A Year in Review

11th Grade

Anthony Coffie, Jackson High School, First Place for I Shall Be King
Tayah Schuette, Hanover-Horton High School, Second Place for T’was the Night Before States
Camren Thomas, Vandercook Lake High School, Third Place for The War for September
Tyler Duffrin, Hanover-Horton High School, Honorable Mention for Twas the Day After Tryouts

12th Grade

Mia Hall, Vandercook Lake High School, First Place for Can’t Pause Passion
Helena Howard, Homeschool, Second Place for A Changed World
Jade Melling, Hanover-Horton High School, Third Place for Kite
Laura Wicklund, Vandercook Lake High School, Honorable Mention for Heart Failure
Sierra Gordon, Concord High School, Honorable Mention for The Ones on Death Row



Book Review: At the Waters Edge by Sara Gruen

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Set in the time frwaters edgeame of WWII, three friends, Ellis, his wife Maddie and best friend Hank make fools of themselves and disgrace Ellis’s parents at a ”high society” New Year’s Eve Party.   Ellis has already embarrassed his father, a Colonel, during WWI, by being classified 4F for color blindness, and unable to serve. He decides the only way to redeem himself is to go to Scotland to complete the search the Colonel botched several years earlier, for the Lock Ness Monster.  At this point, I found all of these characters immature, condescending, irresponsible, and thoughtless.

The three of them find themselves in a small remote village Inn on the shore of the lake. The two men become even more disrespectful, arrogant and supercilious. Maddie becomes, more meek and timid. Predictably, as the passage on the book cover says; “Maddie makes friends with two young women who help her see a larger world she never knew existed….and begins to see that nothing is as if first appears and …and monsters lurk where they are least expected.”

Although I did not like this book as much as Water for Elephants, I liked it better than The Ape House, There was one passage, descriptions of domestic violence, that was a bit graphic.

I listened to the Audio version of this book and found myself at times, not wanting to stop listening when I reached my destination.

If I measure this book on my usual criteria, how much do I like these people, will I miss them when I am finished, do I want to know what happens to them next, I would give this a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


The Collective Good

 Jackson, Michigan circa 1865

Jackson, Michigan circa 1865

In 1854, young businessmen in the Jackson community formed a mutual improvement society. Jackson’s Young Men’s Association (YMA) aimed to address issues of moral and political philosophy.

In its early years, the YMA sponsored debates, provided free public lectures, and attempted to establish a reading room. Strong political feelings of the day prevented the organization from developing further. The political turmoil of the 1850s increased, and fiery debates followed. The desire for libraries, reading rooms, and books was supplanted by talk of slavery, succession, and war.

War did come, and the local militia group, the Jackson Greys, led by William H. Withington answered the call. Talk of libraries would have to wait. The public focused on blow by blow battle descriptions and the fire-eater language of local newspaper editors. Having survived both prison camp and the First Battle of Bull Run, Captain Withington came home a hero. In 1863, he helped revive and formally organize the Young Men’s Association.


The Object of Mutual Improvement — Essentially, a Gentleman’s Club

By early 1864, the YMA had 50 members. Yearly dues were set at $2.00.

The object of this Society shall be the promotion of literary and scientific purposes by means of a library, Reading Room, literary exercise and lectures and such other means as are usually adopted for such purposes. — W. H. Withington: YMA Minutes 1863

In preparation for the opening of their Reading Room, the second floor of the Durand Building on Michigan Avenue was rented at a cost of $65 a year. An additional $45 was spent for tables, a dozen chairs, and a stage. On March 15, 1864 the YMA Reading Room was officially opened. It was essentially a gentlemen’s club. Week nights the janitor lit the gaslights and members came to relax, play a friendly game of chess, read periodicals from as far away as England, and smoke their cigars.

William H. Withington Portrait

William H. Withington

In consequence of the increase in number of those who frequent
the reading room, and the growing taste for reading, the Board
of Directors determined to commence the founding of a library connected with the Association, Young men and boys are asking
for books they cannot afford to buy and few of them have access
to good private libraries. We hope to secure by donations from
citizens from 500 to 1000 Volumes.
— American Citizen: November 7, 1865

Jackson citizens did answer the call with 239 donated books. Books continued to be added to the collection. The library, which officially opened in 1865, was not a true public library because only YMA members had access to the books. Members were expected to read and distribute knowledge to the “young men and boys” in the community. And while women were urged to collect books for the library, they could not join the YMA.