5 Cozy Northern Michigan Libraries Making a Comeback

Five cool comeback stories about Northern Michigan libraries in Elk Rapids, Interlochen, Old Mission Peninsula, Empire and Harbor Springs. Thanks to community support, these local libraries are being renovated or expanded for future generations of readers. 

Peninsula Community Library

2893 Island View Rd., Traverse City | 231.223.7700

The 5,600-square-foot library opened in September 2019, moving from its former home at Old Mission Peninsula School. “The public loves the new library,” says Library Director Vicki Shurly. “We have seen patrons we know return and many new people. One man was almost in tears. He told us, ‘This is the most beautiful library I have ever been in.’”

“This library is a gift from the community to the community. The building was constructed entirely on donated funds; we have no debt. It is fast becoming the heart of Old Mission, and we are so grateful to all who made this happen.”

Find Your Nook: There are so many! The fireplace is a highlight on cold, windy days. The Johnson Carroll Local History Room features furnishings from one of the peninsula’s heritage farmhouses, including a beautiful etched glass door with a working doorbell. The community room accommodates 80 people and will be available to groups beginning in January. Children adore the play area with its mini Tom’s Food Market.

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Elk Rapids District Library

300 Isle of Pines, Elk Rapids | 231.264.9979

A white footbridge across the Elk River connects this historic library to the center of downtown. Built as a private residence in the 1860s, the library was originally known as the Island House. Katherine Dexter McCormick gave the home to the village in 1948 and it became the library in 1949.

Today, a $5 million capital campaign is underway for a 6,300-square-foot addition, including a program room, adult reading area, children and teen areas, and a deck overlooking East Grand Traverse Bay with outdoor seating. The plan also calls for the restoration of several historical elements of the Island House such as the parlor, the fireplace located near the front desk and a conservatory. See construction plans at erlibraryfriend.com.

Everyone’s Favorite Perch: The porch overlooking East Grand Traverse Bay. “When we are done with the renovation and construction, there will be many more areas that I think will become favorites,” says Library Director Nannette Miller. “With more space, we can offer many more and different kinds of programs without worrying about turning people away.”

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Interlochen Public Library

9411 Tenth St., Interlochen | 231.276.6767

Last December, the new Interlochen Public Library celebrated its grand opening, featuring modern amenities like a kids’ room, study cubbies and a full kitchen. “Everyone who has come into the library has been very proud,” says Library Director Renee Kelchak. People’s favorite features? The see-through fireplace and lounge study area.

Insider Tips: Throughout the year, there are two monthly book clubs and fun community gatherings like the Lego/ Maker group for children, ukulele nights, knitting circles, bridge club and more. “We have a great gentle yoga teacher who donates her time every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.,” says Renee, “and we have a wonderfully supportive Library Board and Friends of the Library group. You can join us at any time and be very welcome!”

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” —Albert Einstein

Glen Lake Community Library

12020 S. Leelanau Hwy., Empire | 231.326.5361

Up until 1976, the Glen Lake area was serviced by a Traverse City bookmobile. When this service stopped, citizens came together to open a library in 1977. Today, thanks to continued community support, the library is expanding again. The renovation will increase space for children’s collections and seating, include a gathering area with a fireplace, improve educational programs and more. View the plans and find out how to donate.

Harbor Springs Library

206 S. Spring St., Harbor Springs | 231.526.2531

The Earl Mead-designed brick building was constructed in 1908 and is in need of a new roof, repairs to the brick exterior, elevator updates and bathroom and entrance area renovations. The beloved library is currently in the fundraising stage. You can be a part of the restoration project by purchasing a wooden book spine to be personally engraved with a message or name. The spines cost $100, $200 and $300, depending on size. Learn more about the project.

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