MLA’s “Primary Source” is an exclusive, first-hand account of the latest news and announcements from the staff of the Michigan Library Association.
March 24, 2022
Note From Debbie
A close friend and colleague often tells me, “Your passion is showing!” And indeed, it does! When you love what you do and find excitement and inspiration in every nuance and challenge, you become what another former colleague at Project for Public Spaces calls “Zealous Nuts” or better yet, what Dale Carnegie labels as “Flaming Enthusiasm.” For 45 years, I’ve been able to work in the nonprofit cultural sector, and never once have I considered doing anything else.

But I don’t think I’m the only one that exudes those traits. Enthusiasm and passion seem to be the formidable foundation by which MLA staff live their lives as well. As we celebrate the strength and legacy of MLA, we also recognize the incredible passion that each of the current staff members brings to making MLA what it is today. It is important to remember that organizations are only as good as the people they employ. It is always about the people! 

The MLA team – Amber, Rachel, Lisa, Keeley and Ryan exude a “Can Do” attitude every single day. No task is too big, too daunting, or too challenging. I’ve said it before…they are innovative thinkers; they are kind, generous, and sometimes very funny; they take initiative at every opportunity; they are resourceful and creative; and best of all, they anticipate and identify challenges long before they reach my desk. Without a doubt, it gives me great pleasure to work with them on a daily basis and this note allows me to express my appreciation for a job well done.

“Enthusiasm rules” as we advocate, educate and engage libraries and library workers throughout Michigan. As Roald Dahl states, “If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”  
Deborah E. Mikula
Executive Director
2022 Board of Directors Election
Meet the candidates for the 2022 MLA Board of Directors Election and plan to cast your vote April 4 - April 25, 2022.
MLA will hold elections from April 4 – 25, 2022. This year MLA members will vote for an MLA President-elect, an ALA Councilor, and three Member-at-Large Board positions. These positions will serve for three-year terms beginning July 1, 2022, and ending June 30, 2025.

Meet the candidates! Click on their photos or names below or visit the MLA website to get to know the candidates for the 2022 Board Election.

Eligible members will receive an email on April 4 with instructions and a link to vote.
Executive Director, Capital Area District Libraries
ALA Councilor
The ALA Councilor also serves as a Member-at-Large on the MLA Board of Directors.
Reference and Outreach Librarian, Washtenaw Community College
Director, East Lansing Public Library
Tribal Librarian, Ojibwa Community Library

Serials & Collection Librarian, Grand Rapids Community College; Trustee, Grand Rapids Public Library 
Learning Resources Coordinator, Wayne County Community College District
Library Director, Grosse Pointe Public Library
Branch Manager, Detroit Public Library
Digital Services Librarian, Genesee District Library

Movement on the MLA Board
On Friday, March 18, the MLA Board of Directors appointed Lisa Waskin to serve in the seat vacated by Jasmine Parker, who is leaving the state for a new role. Lisa will serve as a Member-at-Large on the MLA Board through June 30, 2023.

After working as a Director at three different libraries in the Chicago area, Lisa is now the Director of the Superior District Library in Sault Ste. Marie – with nine branches in the Upper Peninsula. She studied history and archaeology at the University of North Dakota and then went on to obtain a Master in Library and Information Science Degree from Dominican University.

Lisa is one of MLA's champion ambassadors – serving on the nominating committee, the annual conference workgroup, the PDNC workgroup and always jumping in whenever we ask. She was the chair of the UPRLC for many years but recently stepped down. She is also a board member with the Midwest Collaborative for Library Service (MCLS) and with the Friends of Michigan Libraries (FOML).
Call for Ambassadors 2022-2023
The Call for Ambassador online signup for 2022-2023 workgroups and committees is now open!! Applications are accepted through April 29, 2022. If you're interested in growing personally or professionally, we have a place for you! Review available volunteer positions and sign up on the web at
The Call for Ambassadors is now open for members interested in serving on MLA workgroups and committees. We invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to make a difference in the Michigan library community, develop your leadership skills, grow your professional network, and represent MLA!

All MLA members are eligible to volunteer for workgroups and committees. Nonmembers interested in volunteering are welcome to join MLA by filling out the online membership application or by contacting us at (517) 394-2774 or

Check out available opportunities to get involved on the web and complete the online ambassador application by Friday, April 29, 2022.

Questions? Join us on Zoom on Thursday, April 14, 2022, at 10:00 AM to learn more and chat with MLA staff, workgroup and committee members about participating during the 2022-2023 member year. Click here to register.
Call for Proposals for MLA 2022 Annual Conference
The MLA 2022 Annual Conference Workgroup is seeking education session proposals for the 2022 conference: Bridging the Divide, scheduled for October 19-21, 2022 at the Blue Water Convention Center in Port Huron, Michigan. Session Proposals are welcome through Monday, April 4.
The MLA 2022 Annual Conference is back in-person in beautiful Port Huron, Michigan, at the Blue Water Convention Center and this year we are focusing on how libraries are "Bridging the Divide".

The MLA 2022 Annual Conference Workgroup is currently in search of sessions that will speak to professionals in all aspects of library work, including leadership, youth services, programming, cataloging, IT, grant funding, capital improvement projects, reference, and more.

We want to explore and celebrate how libraries bridge the divides in their communities and on their campuses, including technological, socioeconomic, political, and access to information. Sessions that speak to this theme will be prioritized.

Session proposals are welcome through Monday, April 4.
MLA 2022 Youth Literary Awards Top Ten Titles Lists Announced
We are excited to announce the top titles of the 2022 Mitten, YouPer and Thumbs Up! Awards! Top Ten Title flyers, awards seals and award banners are available and free to use! Please use these resources at your library to help us promote MLA Youth Literary Awards and the amazing job our workgroups do in selecting the very best books for youth! Read on for details.
MLA Youth Literary Award workgroups worked throughout the past year, spending thousands of hours reading, reviewing and discussing hundreds of books to determine the top titles for youth published in 2021.

It is our pleasure to share the Top Ten Titles of the 2022 MItten, YouPer and Thumbs Up! Awards! The winners and honor books will be announced at the new MLA Youth Literary Awards event: Save the date for Friday, May 27 at 10:00 AM and plan to join us live on Zoom or watch for the announcement from MLA on our social media and website!
2022 Mitten Award Top Ten Titles
Download the Mitten Top Ten Titles flyer (pdf). Award seals and web banners are also available at
2022 YouPer Award Top Ten Titles
Download the YouPer Top Ten Titles flyer(pdf). More resources to help promote the award are available at
2022 Thumbs Up! Award Top Ten Titles
Download the Thumbs Up! Top Ten Titles flyer(pdf). More resources to help promote the award are available at
Organizational Membership Renewal
Thank you to all of our organizational members for your continued support! Watch the mail for organizational membership renewal information for the 2022-2023 member year in April.
Easy Renewal Process for Your Entire Staff
Did you know? MLA makes it super easy for Organizational members to sign up all of their employees as Affiliated Individual members. Instead of having to issue multiple checks for individual dues throughout the year, wouldn’t you love the option of cutting one check that covers the cost of annual dues for all staff ($85 per employee) AND…they will all renew at the same time each year!

We can provide you with one invoice that will cover the cost of the employees you choose to pay for. We will even pro-rate their dues as necessary to eliminate the need for sending multiple checks. Note according to the bylaws, membership in the association is not transferable or assignable, but there is an exception for Affiliated Individual memberships that are paid for by an Organizational member to address staffing changes. This is a wonderful professional development perk for your staff members and increases the “package of benefits” you offer.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this offer, please contact MLA Administrative Assistant, Lisa Buttigieg who will be happy to help answer any questions you may have. She can be reached by phone at (517) 394-2774 ext. 227 or by email at
MLA Donates $500 to Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Library
At MLA's Spring Institute for Youth Services in Mt. Pleasant, MLA offered a Land Acknowledgement in order to recognize the Anishinaabe people's traditional land we gathered upon -- the land on which the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (composed mainly of the Saginaw, Black River and Swan Creek Ojibwe bands) have resided on for over 200 years, and to express our commitment to learning their history. To show our commitment, MLA made a direct donation of $500 to the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Library. We encourage you to visit our website to read the land acknowledgment and links and resources to learn more about the history and issues of importance to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.
Equity Fund Grant Application Opens Next Month
The 2022-2023 MLA Equity Fund Grants will be awarded for activities occurring between July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023. Requests up to $1,000 will be considered. Partial funding of a request is possible. Not all applicants will be funded. The application form will open on Monday, April 18, 2022, and all application materials are due to MLA on Friday, June 3, 2022, by 5:00 PM. Download the MLA Equity Fund Guidelines for complete details.
Mentor Program Accepting Applicants for Spring Cohort
The application period for the MLA Mentor Program for the Spring cohort closes tomorrow! The Mentor Program creates structured relationships that last for six months and provides mentors and mentees with a cohort of others at similar places within their careers. Participants set their own goals and objectives and MLA provides resources beneficial to both parties.

Applications are accepted through Friday, March 25 for the Spring cohort, and the program will begin in April 2022. We invite you to be a part of this benefit to MLA membership. You never know where it might take you.

For more information, contact MLA Program and Event Director Amber Sheerin at
Order MLA Swag
Show your MLA pride with a hoodie or pin! Order your MLA sweatshirt or pin by Friday, April 15. Orders will be shipped the week of April 18.
Check out MLA's Bill Tracker to view a full list of legislation that the Advocacy and Legislative Committee is watching.
Open Meetings Act Update
In late January, Representative John Damoose (District 107) introduced House Bill 5689 which will update Section 3a (MCL 15.263a) as amended by 2021 PA 54 of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to allow cooperative library boards and local library boards to meet virtually if they choose. The bill was referred to the Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee.

There is a political reality to the passage of this legislation. It should be noted that there have been a number of proposed revisions introduced to the OMA during the past year. None have moved past the introduction since mid-2021 with the political divisions we now see. (Some of these bills are documented in the MLA Bill Tracker on the MLA website.)

Now that it has been introduced, however, we have begun to reach out to Rep. Julie Calley, the Chair of the Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee, to have it added to the committee agenda to be heard. MLA’s Lobbyist Bob DeVries and Executive Director Debbie Mikula met with Rep. Calley in early March. Rep. Calley noted that with all of the bills introduced to update the OMA, global changes will be a focus in her tenure even with political differences. She suggested ideas for redrafting our bill with changes that the MLA Board and Advocacy and Legislative Committee are now discussing. We felt confident that Rep. Calley would give us a hearing and the opportunity to address the committee, along with other organizations that are frustrated by the limitations of remote participation. Dale Parus, Vice-Chair of the MLA Advocacy and Legislative Committee, and Director of the Ionia Community Library followed up with an email, as Rep. Calley represents a portion of his district. We will keep you posted with further details as this progresses through the political system.
Michigan Library Advocacy Day Recording
On Tuesday, March 1, the Michigan library community joined on Zoom for our annual Michigan Library Advocacy Day. Check out the recording of our main session below!
New Chair of Intellectual Freedom Task Force
On Friday, March 18, the MLA Board of Directors appointed Dillon Geshel to serve as the Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Task Force to replace outgoing Chair, Jasmine Parker.

The Intellectual Freedom Task Force serves as a subgroup and coordinates with the Advocacy and Legislative Committee on establishing progressive priorities relating to library collections, censorship and privacy. The purpose of the task force is to support MLA in safeguarding intellectual freedom and first amendment rights, proactively educate and inform the library field of legislation related to intellectual freedom, develop a position and response by MLA in instances of controversy over censorship, and encourage Michigan libraries to develop policies that will support free speech and the freedom to read.
Letter to Legislators
Check out March's edition of our monthly outreach to Michigan Legislators where we continue to educate them on the value of our libraries and the critical role of library staff. Our monthly letters include information on programs and services that libraries provide, education on library funding, the return on investment for our communities, stats and fun facts about library usage and more.
View the Recording: MLA March Advocacy Hour with John Chrastka
On Thursday, March 17 we welcomed John Chrastka, founder of EveryLibrary for an MLA Connect Advocacy Hour about censorship and responding to book-banning. Check out the recording below to learn more.
We LEVELed UP at Spring Institute!
If the 2022 Spring Institute for Youth Services had a refrain it would be, “We are so glad to be in person!” After a two-year hiatus MLA staff and ambassadors enthusiastically welcomed 176 attendees, 35 speakers, and 12 vendors to the Mt. Pleasant Comfort Inn Conference Center on March 10-11.

Walking through the hotel in the evening we observed groups playing board games, reconnecting over food and beverages, sharing stories, and laughing together; all things that are not possible to replicate in a virtual conference. The excitement and sense of normalcy were palpable and reinvigorating for those of us lucky enough to be there.

Thank you to our keynote speakers, Angeline Boulley, Kristin Fontichairo, and Jenn Carson, the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways, Michigan Humanities for sponsoring our Friday performances, the staff of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University, and the workgroup ambassadors for making this event such a resounding success. Onward and upward as we continue to LEVEL UP! Save the date for Spring Institute for Youth Services 2023: March 30 - 31, 2023 at the Sheraton Hotel in Ann Arbor!
Check out photos from Spring Institute for Youth Services 2022: Level up! Click the image above to view the album or check out photos on Facebook!
MLA Connect offers virtual education and engagement opportunities you can access from anywhere to keep you connected to the library community in Michigan! Our webinar programs are formatted as Explorations: Keynote discussions with field leaders exploring the most pressing questions for our industry today and into the future; and Workshops: Panel discussions featuring peer leaders and field experts. MLA Connect Workshops and Explorations are only $25 for members. Monthly MLA Connect Advocacy Hour conversations and informational coffee hours are always free! Save the date for upcoming virtual programs!
Avoid Grant Application Pitfalls! Tips for a Good Grant Application 
Wednesday, April 6, 2022 
10:00 - 11:00 AM

MLA Connect Exploration: Keynote discussions with field leaders exploring the most pressing questions for our field today and into the future.

What makes a good grant application? What should be included in the proposal? Why does the funder want a community needs assessment? Is there a right way to do a budget? This presentation will offer tips on how to complete a typical grant proposal, avoid common mistakes in the application process, and improve your chances to get funding for that great program idea you have.

MLA Connect workshops and explorations are only $25 for MLA members!
MLA Connect Coffee Hour: Get Involved with MLA
Thursday, April 14, 2022
10:00 – 11:00 AM

Current MLA Ambassadors representing some of the various committees and workgroups will be present to talk about their experience as a volunteer and answer questions from those attending.

Whether you’re new to MLA, or a seasoned professional, there are lots of ways for everyone to be involved. It is through the hard work of our ambassadors that we are able to further our advocacy efforts, plan our events, honor our award-winning library workers, and select our top picks of the best books for youth.

Attendees can even win prizes just by joining us to learn more about MLA volunteer opportunities!

Learn more about volunteer opportunities and signup at
It's not too late to register to participate in the 2022 MLA Leadership Academy! This biennial leadership development program is designed for library leaders and aspiring leaders. Leaders are needed in all roles within the library. Whether you aspire to be a director or want to enhance your ability to lead volunteers, spearhead new programs, or form relationships within your community, MLA's Leadership Academy will equip you with the skills and resources you need to lead.

The 2022 Leadership Academy will be presented in a hybrid format, with some sessions held virtually. The entire program is $1295 for members and includes all virtual and in-person sessions, plus two overnight hotel stays and meals.

Take the next step in your career and join the ranks of the hundreds of successful graduates of the Michigan Library Association Leadership Academy that have gone on to lead their libraries into the future. Registration closes on Friday, April 24. Secure your spot in the 2022 cohort by registering today!
Save the Date!
Vendor and Supporter Opportunities
Do you offer products and services for libraries? Don't miss the opportunity to connect with hundreds of library staff and support our upcoming Spring Institute for Youth Services 2022 happening March 10-11 in Mt. Pleasant and our MLA 2022 Annual Conference on October 19-21, 2022 in Port Huron, Michigan!

Contact Amber Sheerin, MLA Program and Event Director at (517) 881-3194 or to learn more about sponsoring or exhibiting at Spring Institute for Youth Services 2022 or MLA 2022 Annual Conference.
Save the Date! MLA 2022 Youth Literary Awards
Mark your calendar and save the date for the 2022 MLA Youth Literary Awards! On Friday, May 27 at 10:00, join us on Zoom to see which titles won the 2022 MItten, YouPer, and Thumbs Up! Awards!
Do you have news you want to share? Contact Lisa Buttigieg at to share news of promotions, new hires, appointments, awards or a tribute in memoriam.
On the Move
Congratulations to Jasmine Parker who has accepted the Youth Services Manager position with the Columbus Metropolitan Library system in Columbus, Ohio. Thank you, Jasmine, for your hard work and dedication to all things library, you will be missed! 
The Library of Michigan has welcomed Heather Wood-Gramza as the new MeL Coordinator. Congratulations Heather!
The Cedar Springs Public Library has appointed Kamey Krum-Howe as their new director. Congratulations and welcome Kamey!
After more than a decade with the Royal Oak Public Library, Youth Services Supervisor Amy Howes retired on January 28. Congratulations and enjoy your retirement, Amy!
Advertise on MLA’s Job Board
Members receive deep discounts on job postings through the MLA Career Center job board. Learn more here.
Wayne State University Library System – Detroit, MI

The Lincoln Township Public Library – Stevensville, MI

Suburban Library Cooperative – Sterling Heights, MI

View these jobs and more at the MLA Career Center.
National Library Week
National Library Week (April 3 - 9, 2022) is a time to celebrate our nation's libraries, library workers' contributions and promote library use and support. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and observed in libraries across the country each April.

This year's theme is "Connect with your library." Are you ready to celebrate? Check out complete details at!
MDHHS updates Isolation & Quarantine Guidance based on...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 10, 2022 CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112 LANSING, Mich. - Based on current conditions and low numbers of new COVID-19 cases, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is updating its COVID-19...

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2022 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition

Together Again! Join us for top-quality education and best practices; featured thought-leaders; and special programming for library professionals looking to further develop their libraries, communities, and careers! Washington DC | June 23-28,...

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Fight Censorship
With the severe uptick in local and statewide book challenges, ALA offers this clearinghouse of resources to assist library workers and library advocates in responding to and supporting others facing those challenges. Report challenges to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, and let ALA know if you need assistance.
Keeping Governance on Track
This two-part series is presented by the United for Libraries Intellectual Freedom Task Force and is made available FREE to all participants by the Jack Neal Fund.
I'm with the Banned

"I'm with the banned" is a concert to help benefit the Freedom to Read Foundation. The event will feature a diverse lineup of bands from the Pacific Northwest and will happen on March 25.

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Humanities Grants

Humanities Grants emphasize collaboration among cultural, educational and community-based organizations and institutions in order to serve Michigan's people with public humanities programming. These grants play a vital role in defining our...

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Uniting the Michigan Library Community
MLA is proud to partner with organizations serving the library community.