THOMPSONVILLE — Librarian Michelle Guerra sees the Betsie Valley District Library as a “little library with a big heart.”
But she and the Friends of the Betsie Valley District Library said staff and patrons at the Thompsonville facility are cramped for space.
The library soon will have a bigger and better home, thanks to a donation from the Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation. The community is invited to a groundbreaking ceremony for the 1,500-square-foot facility today at 1 p.m. at 14744 Thompson Ave., almost directly across the street from the current location.
The property was leased from the Village of Thompsonville for 99 years, Guerra said. Construction is expected to be complete in October, said Russell Smith, library grant coordinator.
”It’s a big deal for a community this size,” Smith said.
The library currently operates out of a small building shared with Weldon Township. The new facility will be almost twice as large and allow for expanded programs and book collections.
”Our challenge has been ... it’s been limited on resources we are able to house,” Guerra said. “We really have to maximize our space.”
Book stacks will be movable to house large crowds, a feature that would have been useful when Benzie County veteran world traveler Bo Clampitt presented in 2011.
”It was so packed in our building. People were standing in the library and office areas, so it was very difficult to present properly,” Smith said. “So we really look forward to having the space where we can have that many people.”
The new building’s exterior will resemble Thompsonville’s original train station, which was sent to Copemish before the 20th Century and now rests in Glen Arbor as a florist shop, Smith said. Inside, the facility will be ADA compliant, and have LED lighting and wireless Internet. There will be a kids book section.
Guerra said the new building will maintain the library’s welcoming feel where folks are greeted with a smile.
”We want it to feel like coming home,” she said. “We want them to feel like family when they’re coming in.”
Local business owners said Thompsonville has buzzed with positive talk about the new development. Lynette Williams, owner of Main Street Image, said many of her salon clients use the library, sometimes for Internet.
”Because of this area being a poorer community ... I think it’s a great thing for this area. I’m excited,” Williams said.
The Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation in 2008 donated air conditioning, laptops and books to the Betsie Valley District Library.