Authors and book lovers celebrated the Library of Michigan’s 20th Annual Notable Books program Saturday evening, the first of April. The Library Rotunda was circled with author tables, where 17 of this year’s 20 selected authors of the 2017 Notable Books conversed with Night for Notables guests.
Thomas Lynch, well known throughout Michigan’s vast writing community and across the country from many appearances on national public, cable and network television stations and radio was the evening’s keynote speaker. Mr. Lynch, often described as a cross between Garrison Keillor and W.B. Yeats is an American poet, essayist, and undertaker in Milford, Michigan. The audience of authors, donors, library staff and book lovers were captivated by Mr. Lynch’s talk which was at times hilarious, thought-provoking, emotional and personal.
Both the Michigan Reads! youth literacy program and the Michigan Notable Books (MNB) program, which recognizes Michigan works and authors, have been making stops at schools, youth centers (Michigan Reads!) and libraries around the state (MNB).
Michigan Reads! is also supported through federal and state funds, but is significantly enhanced with private support by the Library of Michigan Foundation and its corporate sponsors, principally this year Consumers Energy. This program encourages reading aloud regularly to children during the early stages of life, from birth to age 5) to help ensure the development of early literacy skills and and instill a love of reading. This year, author Lisa Wheeler visited 12 libraries with approximately a total of 2500 program attendants.
Private support helps pay for the MNB authors tour to approximately 50 libraries in various regions of the state. Michigan Notable Books is significantly supported by the Library of Michigan Foundation and corporate sponsors such as the Michigan Humanities Council and Meijer. This year, 18 of 20 Notable Book authors visited approximately 50 libraries around the state. The author tour is organized by the Library of Michigan Notable Books Coordinator.
Roger Mendel joined the Board in late winter, 2017. Roger works as the Director of the Northland Library Cooperative. He previously served as Director of the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative. Currently he serves as Vice Chair of the Michigan Cooperative Directors Association. The Northland Library Cooperative is comprised of 23 public libraries in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula. The cooperative is one of two “virtual” cooperatives in the state and provides services to its members without having a permanent location. All work is handled via the internet and cell phone connections.
In 2000, Roger was awarded the Michigan Librarian of the Year honor which is bestowed by the Michigan Library Association. In 2009 he received the prestigious Outstanding Small Rural Librarian Award at the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference sponsored by the Library of Michigan Foundation. This Award recognized Roger as an outstanding leader who made a significant contribution to a Michigan library and invested in efforts to bring about positive change in the small/rural library community. As was publicized at the time it was said, “Roger Mendel has worked tirelessly for Michigan small and rural libraries for more than three decades, and he is greatly deserving of this special honor.”
Roger’s holds a Master’s degree in Library Science from Western Michigan University in Library and Information Science. Roger and his late wife June, also a librarian, have been long-time supporters of the Library of Michigan Foundation and have significantly funded the Foundation’s SLEA Library Award for many years. Marty Gibbs, another Foundation Board member joins Roger in support of this important annual award for Libraries and Librarians around the state. Roger also supports the June B. Mendel Award of Excellence, presented by the Foundation at the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference every other year. The Award recognizes a rural library for their excellence in customer service.
The Foundation is very fortunate to be able to add Roger Mendel to its Board. His expertise and knowledge of the library community and vision for the future will be great assets to the Board and the Foundation’s work.