MLA’s “Primary Source” is an exclusive, first-hand account of the latest news and announcements from the staff of the Michigan Library Association.
June 23, 2022
Note From Debbie
MLA’s Equity, Diversity, Accessibility and Belonging Journey 2019-2022. We're in it for the long haul.
A journey is one that takes time, focus and energy. Since 2019, MLA has been intentionally and consciously on a journey to address equity, diversity, accessibility and belonging, and “we are in it for the long haul.” Our board, staff and ambassadors have been instrumental in keeping this front and center for the past 3 years in all that we do, in all decisions we make, and in our daily work to address the inequities that are inherent in our society. By digging deeper to examine the root causes of these inequities, MLA has become a more innovative and responsive organization with each passing day.

But it is hard work.

I am my family’s “history keeper,” and on many days, the journey to address equity and diversity feels similar to tracing my family history. In researching, learning new things along the way, interviewing family members, documenting dates and places and stories passed down from one generation to the next, I have found that there is no finish line. It is never done. It is ever-evolving. There is always more to the story, always more to mold and shape, always a fork in the road, always walls to climb over. And as careful as I am, sometimes I spend months documenting a whole family line that needs to be erased and I am back to square one when a new piece of information crosses my path. But for 30+ years, I have never wavered from learning and growing in my knowledge. I guess the same can be said about MLA’s and my own personal journey in equity and diversity.

I am proud to be on this journey with all of you, yet we (and I) still have a long way to go. There is always something to learn, always something to take into consideration, always a new path to travel, and always something to work harder at.

I am proud to say that MLA doesn’t just have a statement…we have a plan…and we are taking important and intentional actions to address the plan.  

It is important to note that MLA works with libraries and library workers in all 83 Michigan counties and our goals and values encompass the demographics of the entire State of Michigan. As a statewide advocacy organization, we have made the Lansing area our home, as do most other organizations that work on a statewide basis, due to the legislative agenda that fuels our work at the state Capitol. With that being said, MLA’s journey these past few years (with board, staff, and statewide member input) has elicited many wonderful accomplishments to date, and I want to take the time to share them with you.

Thank you to MLA's Directors!
The MLA Board is saying goodbye to four amazing, dedicated, and passionate leaders and we want to send a special thank you acknowledging all of the work they have done to support MLA and the Michigan library community.

We want to acknowledge Jennifer Dean, U-M Flint Thompson Library, Loretta Hunter, Wayne County Community College Library, Mollie Freier, Lydia M. Olson Library, Northern Michigan University, and Jessica Keyser, Grosse Pointe Public Library.

Jennifer will officially finish her four-year Board term on June 30, having served as ALA Councilor and a term as President-elect, President, and as Past-President. Jennifer brought leadership, vision and kindness to help lead the association through the pandemic. Loretta has served on MLA's Board 2020-2022. Loretta has been steadfast in her support of MLA and has brought focus and action to MLA's strategic priorities. Mollie has served on the MLA Board since July 2019. Mollie has contributed a wealth of institutional insight and brought wisdom and levity to MLA Board meetings and always represents for the U.P. Jessica exhibited dedication, service and leadership as Chair of the MLA Advocacy and Legislative Committee and stepped up to serve a 6-month appointment on the MLA Board.

Thank you to our Board for giving of your time and passion for libraries and thank you for going above and beyond for MLA!

Please feel free to reach out to our past and current Board members to send a note of gratitude for the amazing work they contribute to the library community. If you are considering Board service, we welcome your involvement. Watch for the call for nominations this fall.
Loretta Hunter, Wayne County Community College Library, (pictured left) and Jennifer Dean, U-M Flint Thompson Library,
Mollie Freier
Lydia M. Olson Library
Northern Michigan University
Jessica Keyser
Grosse Pointe Public Library
Thank you to MLA's 2021-2022 Ambassadors
MLA is lucky to have so many dedicated professionals step up to serve on our workgroups and committees and be ambassadors of the association. They show commitment to their communities, their libraries, their patrons, the library profession and the Michigan Library Association every day. Thank you once again to all of those who have volunteered to be ambassadors of MLA and share their experience and expertise with the entire library community.

Thank you to all who served during 2021-2022 for a great year, and thank you to our new ambassadors whose terms begin next month! 
MLA Equity Fund Grant Awardees Announced
MLA Equity Fund Grants aim to reduce financial barriers to professional development opportunities and support individuals currently underrepresented in the library profession.
It is our pleasure to announce the recipients of MLA's Equity Fund Grants! We are pleased to announce that Loretta Hunter, Wayne County Community College Library; Sandra De La Cruz Tello, Kalamazoo Public Library; and Mary Higginbottom-Johnson, Muskegon Area District Library have been awarded grant funds.

Congratulations to Loretta, Sandra, and Mary for submitting exceptional individual proposals and being granted these funds. We are proud to support their funded programs and professional development endeavors. The awardees' projects begin on July 1, 2022.
Mary Higginbottom-Johnson
Muskegon Area District Library
Sandra De La Cruz Tello
Kalamazoo Public Library
Loretta Hunter
Wayne County Community College Library
MLA Code of Conduct
On June 10, the MLA Board approved a new Code of Conduct for MLA's Board, staff, Ambassadors, and all event attendees, addressing conduct at all MLA Functions. MLA will respond aggressively and immediately to any violations of unjust or discriminatory conduct (gender, age, race, religion, political affiliation, marital status, etc); sexual harassment; violence, threats and criminal acts; as well as excessive drinking. View the MLA Code of Conduct (pdf).

Ambassadors: if you have not done so already, please remember to sign the Code of Conduct form online. You will need your individual login credentials to sign the form: Sign the Code of Conduct.
MI Library Is Now
For more promotional materials, including printable and digital graphics, visit: and use the password: Mi832022! 
Please continue to share your library's new tools and resources with your patrons and communities as we progress into the summer, and remember to tag the Michigan Library Association whenever you are posting on social media! 

If you have not already, please feel free to place the lawn sign in front of your library, hang the posters, and share the bookmarks with patrons. We also encourage you to utilize the press release on our resources page to personalize announcements for the new content and tools at your library.

For any questions regarding the ongoing campaign, website updates or marketing materials, please contact Debbie Mikula, MLA Executive Director at 
Funding for MI Library is Now is provided in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library of Michigan.
Order an MLA Hoodie or Pin
Show your MLA pride by ordering a hoodie or pin! Hoodies are $40 and Pins are $8. Both ship free! Click the button below to fill out the order form online.
MLA 2022 Youth Literary Awards
On Friday, May 27 we announced the winners of the 2022 Mitten, YouPer, and Thumbs Up! Awards! Check out the video below or visit us on the web at to learn more. Click here to view the announcement video on Facebook and give it a share and a like!
Milo Imagines the World 
By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Ophie’s Ghosts 
By Justina Ireland
In the Wild Light
By Jeff Zentner
MLA Awards Call for Nominations
Do you know someone who deserves recognition and celebration for their work in Michigan libraries? The Call for Nominations for MLA Awards closes next week!

We encourage and welcome your nomination for any of MLA's Awards for recognition at the 2022 Michigan Library Awards on Wednesday, October 19 in Port Huron Michigan.

We've made it simple, self-nominations are strongly encouraged, and you can choose to have your nomination considered for the 2023 awards as well. Check out complete details and criteria for MLA Awards by downloading the guidelines linked below and submit a nomination for the 2022 Michigan Library Awards today!

Sneak Peek: The awards ceremony will be all-new, in-person and totally spectacular, and our first time producing it as a dinner and awards celebration at the MLA Annual Conference on October 19, 2022. It's an event that's not to be missed!

The deadline to submit a nomination is June 30, 2022. Learn more about the Michigan Library Awards and submit a nomination at
Library Support Staff of the Year
The Library Support Staff of the Year Award honors an exceptional library assistant or support staff member who goes above and beyond at their library and has advanced and strengthened the image of support staff.
Rising Star
The Rising Star Award recognizes a librarian who shows leadership early in their career. While new to the profession, winners of this award are forward-thinking, expanding the role of librarians and moving libraries into the future.
Frances H. Pletz Award for Excellence in Service to Youth
The Frances H. Pletz Award for Excellence in Service to Youth is given annually to a Michigan library staff person who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of library service to youth throughout their career.
Heart of a Champion
The Heart of a Champion Award recognizes a library supporter who has shown an exceptional commitment to libraries or the library profession through continued advocacy and supporting or providing funding for their local library.  
Public Librarian of the Year
The Public Librarian of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding library professional that inspires people, provides innovative library service to their community, promotes collaboration among libraries, and shows evidence of personal and professional achievement as well as initiative and creativity.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a deserving librarian for their distinguished service to the library profession over the course of their career. Throughout their career, they have sustained a strong and consistent body of work and demonstrated leadership in their community and in the profession by mentoring and empowering library staff, providing innovative service to their community, and enhancing the image and visibility of the library. They promote collaboration among libraries and librarians and have been a catalyst in special areas such as intellectual freedom, library innovation, outreach, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Organizational Renewals Due Soon
We wanted to share another quick reminder that library organizational dues for the 2022-2023 member year are due on June 30, and renewal can be done online! Plus, don't forget your organizational membership includes individual membership for the library director and also includes the Linked Trustees member benefit!

If you have already renewed, or your renewal payment is on the way, or you have already contacted us to let us know about payment delays, or the need to delay payment to July 1 so it falls in your libraries’ next fiscal year, we thank you!
Independence Day
The MLA office will be closed in observance of Independence Day on Monday, July 4, 2022.
Check out MLA's Bill Tracker to view a full list of legislation that the Advocacy and Legislative Committee is watching.
HB 5097 Moves Forward to "Ban Race and Gender Stereotyping" in the Classroom
In early June 2022, the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee took up House Bill 5097, which was first introduced by Rep. Andrew Beeler (R-Fort Gratiot), in June 2021. It has now moved through the House and the Senate and it has been referred to the committee of the whole in the Senate chamber. The legislation would ban “race and gender stereotyping” from the classroom. It should be noted that two Democratic members of the committee walked out of the committee meeting in protest.

Under Beeler's legislation, lessons regarding a racial, ethnic or gender group holding the same "collective quality of belief" or that "cultural norms or practices" of one of these demographics "are flawed and must be eliminated" would be banned. Beeler's bill does not include a portion withholding 5% in a district or public school academy's state funding for conducting such lessons as would an earlier bill proposed by Senator Lana Theis (SB 0460).

MLA is opposed to this bill (as well as SB 0460) as it challenges intellectual freedom. The Governor is expected to veto the bill if it crosses her desk. We will continue to monitor this bill and make our opposition known at every stage of its movement through the legislative process.
Step up to Participate in the MDHHS Library OTC COVID-19 Test Distribution Program
MDHHS has partnered with several libraries across the state of Michigan to provide free at-home COVID-19 test kits to Michiganders. Participating libraries receive tests monthly, or as needed, to distribute to their local community. Libraries interested in participating in this program can still step up to participate by filling out an interest survey here:
Take Action for MI Right to Read
MI Right to Read is a new MLA initiative coordinated through the leadership of the Intellectual Freedom Task Force to protect the right to read in Michigan. Read on to learn more about MI Right to Read and new resources available for libraries to assist with first amendment challenges and join the coalition today.
MI Right to Read is a grassroots coalition of librarians and concerned Michigan residents. The coalition opposes any attempts to ban books from Michigan libraries based on content subjectively deemed inappropriate. Its purpose is to educate the public and oppose any current or future legislation that infringes upon First Amendment rights and intellectual freedom. The goal of the coalition is to protect Michiganders' right to read and ensure that librarians across Michigan are entrusted to continue to do their jobs and serve the needs of all students and communities.

Check out ten ways you can help support every Michigander's right to read and take action today! Visit today to join the coalition and take action to stand up for your First Amendment rights and intellectual freedom. View resources to assist libraries with first amendment challenges at
MI Right to Read Gear
Consider purchasing MI Right to Read shirts for your team! Show support and build your own brand by wearing the same color. Profits support the MI Right to Read coalition.
MLA 2023 Annual Conference: Bridging the Divide
MLA 2022 Annual Conference attendee registration is open! Register today and join us October 19-21, in-person in Port Huron, Michigan for MLA 2022 Annual Conference: Bridging the Divide.
We are excited to announce that MLA 2022 Annual Conference Registration is OPEN! Join us on October 19-21 in Port Huron at our first in-person annual conference since 2019.

Conference Venue
Blue Water Convention Center 
800 Harker Street
Port Huron, MI, 48060 
(810) 201-5513 

DoubleTree by Hilton Port Huron 
800 Harker Street
Port Huron, MI, 48060 
(810) 984-8000 
$129.00 per night, plus applicable taxes
*Reserve your room by September 15, 2022, and refer to the Michigan Library Association in order to get the discounted rate. 
Keynote Speakers
Nolan Finley
Stephen Henderson
Angela Hursh
Opening Keynote with The Civility Project
Bridging the Divide: Civility in a Time of Unrest
Celebrated journalists Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson have been longtime friends, despite their different perspectives on pretty much everything. The one thing they agree on is the importance of their friendship—which includes a healthy dose of disagreement and mutual respect.

“It never occurred to us that we couldn’t be friends because we disagree,” says Nolan. “We’ve never avoided conversation, we never pulled punches, we sort of enjoyed the mix-up.”

Americans used to engage in civil conversation with people of opposing viewpoints – enjoying the banter and debate. Today, many Americans believe they can’t be friends with people whose politics are different. The Civility Project seeks to bring people of opposing viewpoints together for healthy disagreement, personal interactions and constructive conversations.

“If we reach the point where we dehumanize the people we disagree with, anything is possible,” Stephen says. “We must step back and learn to talk to people as people, rather than political adversaries."
Thursday All-Conference Session with Angela Hursh: How Will They Know? Make Sure Your Library’s Efforts to Bridge the Divide Get Noticed!
The work that your library does to make information, services, and technology accessible to everyone is extraordinary. But all that work is for naught if your community doesn’t know they can take advantage of it! This talk is packed with practical tips to successfully promote your library’s collection, services, and programs, even when you face staff and budget shortfalls. You’ll learn how to maximize digital platforms and reach community members who don’t have (or don’t want) internet access. And you’ll leave with a plan to work smarter by putting your time and available resources to the best use.
Call for Panelists
The MLA 2022 Annual Conference Workgroup is currently in search of speakers to join panel conversations on intellectual freedom and equity, diversity, accessibility, and belonging at MLA 2022 Annual Conference: Bridging the Divide.

Panels will be moderated and will offer ideas, philosophies, and/or practical solutions on a given topic. Panelists will be expected to meet at least once prior to the conference to facilitate a cohesive panel discussion.
Call for Silent Auction Donations 
MLA will be hosting a silent auction at our MLA 2022 Annual Conference: Bridging the Divide. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the MLA Scholarship Fund and MLA’s Equity Grant Fund. We are asking for donations of any kind to this auction: library bling, vendor give-a-ways, new books, posters, a weekend stay in a fabulous location, basically anything which could either stand alone as an auction item or could be placed in a basket along with other items. If you have anything you would like to contribute please complete the form or contact Cindi Place at or call Bellaire Library at  231-533-8814 for more information. 
Call for Exhibitors and Sponsors
Do you offer products and services for libraries? Don't miss the opportunity to connect with hundreds of library staff and support our upcoming 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 MLA 2022 Annual Conference.

Check out the MLA Connect On Demand virtual education platform! MLA Connect offers virtual education and engagement opportunities you can access from anywhere to keep you connected to the library community in Michigan, and the MLA Connect On Demand platform lets you access education at any time!
Did you know MLA members have access to dozens of virtual programs and sessions on a wide variety of topics, all available to view on-demand? To view available programs, visit MLA Connect On Demand, browse the archives, and log in with your MLA individual login credentials. You can watch recorded sessions and view chat logs from the live sessions as well as slides and handouts when available, save your progress as you complete a course, save your favorite sessions, and you can even type and save notes right within your profile.

Visit MLA Connect On Demand to take advantage of this member benefit today!
Now Available to View On-Demand:
June Advocacy Hour: Creating a Crisis Communication Plan
Our June Advocacy Hour was all about creating a crisis communication plan so your library is prepared to respond to a book-banning or censorship crisis.
MLA Connect: Responding to a Public Challenge
Learn some effective tips for proactively preparing for challenges to materials, displays, or programming, how to access resources and colleagues for support, strategies that can be used to frame the narrative and conversation, and how to build strategic alliances for support.
Welcoming Deaf Patrons to Your Library
Thursday, June 30, 2022 
9:30 – 11:00 AM

In this interactive session, you’ll learn communication tips for interacting with deaf patrons, information about American Sign Language and Deaf Culture, and even some basic ASL vocabulary to introduce yourself and help patrons navigate the library.

MLA Connect explorations are only $25 for MLA members!
Technology: Data Security and Investment
Monday, July 11, 2022
10:00 – 12:00 AM

Ransomware and other virtual malicious actors are becoming an increasingly real threat to organizations of all sizes, and libraries are no exception. How can your library protect itself and your data? Whether or not you have an IT department or staff member, you need to be ready and protected from these threats.

Join us for an education session without the confusing tech jargon and learn simple steps you can take to keep your library's data secure. This session also features a panel of technology directors from various Michigan libraries discussing the importance of investing in your technology department -- the people, and the infrastructure.

MLA Connect explorations are only $25 for MLA members!
"Level Up" Your Marketing and Communications
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
10:00 – 11:00 AM

Tired of using the same old strategies for promoting your library’s services and programs, and getting the same, or diminishing, results?

Join us for an interactive session and learn how you can “level up” your library’s marketing and communications efforts.

Participants will learn how to identify key audiences, conduct an audit of communications channels, develop an editorial calendar for their library, and seek out partners to amplify marketing and communication efforts.

MLA Connect explorations are only $25 for MLA members!
Save the Date for Michigan Library Advocacy Day 2023!
Save the date for Michigan Library Advocacy Day! We will be gathering together at the Capitol in Lansing to advocate for all Michigan Libraries on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. Watch for event details and registration information in early 2023We hope you can join us!
Spring Institute for Youth Services 2023
Save the date for Spring Institute for Youth Services 2023 and join us March 30-31, 2023 at the Sheraton Hotel in Ann Arbor, MI.

Upcoming dates to watch for:
  • Call for Proposals Opens: Friday, September 16, 2022
  • Call for Proposals Closes: Monday, October 31, 2022
  • Attendee Registration Opens: Monday, November 14, 2022
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
April Stevenson is the new Library Director at White Lake Township Library in White Lake. Welcome and Congratulations!
Katie Burchett is now the Director of Watervliet District Library, after working at the library and serving the community of Watervliet for the last 18 years. Congratulations on your new role!
Matt Willis has been selected as the new Director of Willard Library in Battle Creek. Wishing you great success Matt!

Sharon Croster-Toy is the new Director at the St. Ignace Public Library. All the best to you Sharon!

Congratulations to Jessica Lash who has been appointed Assistant Director of the Saline District Library. Wishing you all the best in your new role! 
Elissa Zimmer, Districtwide Program Coordinator of the Van Buren District Library has added the role of Branch Manager of the Webster Memorial Branch to her title. All the best to you Elissa!
Happy Retirement to two long standing staff members of Capital Area District Library. Carol G (left) has worn many hats in her 23 years with CADL. Debbie B (right) has been with CADL since their formation in 1998. Congratulations to you both on life’s next journey!
Denise Stefanick is retiring as Director of the White Lake Township Library after over 20 years of service. Denise is a White Lake resident and plans to stay involved as an advocate for the library. All the best in your retirement!
Advertise on MLA’s Job Board
Members receive deep discounts on job postings through the MLA Career Center job board. Learn more here.
Elk Rapids Public Library – Elk Rapids, MI

Bridgman Public Library – Bridgman, MI

West Bloomfield Township Public Library – West Bloomfield Township, MI

View these jobs and more at the MLA Career Center.
MI Library is Now!

MI Library is NOW Better than ever. Now a workspace, now a tech hub, now a health information center. You can develop new skills, take a job interview, learn more about health and wellness, and more - all from your local library. What's ...

Read more
MLA Intellectual Freedom Toolkit
Start preparing for challenges to intellectual freedom with this quick guide. The research, resources and discussion included here are only for purposes of information and research and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Libraries should contact their attorneys for advice with respect to a particular issue or problem.
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.
 Don't keep this great resource to yourself!
Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and networks.
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Connect on Social Media
Connect with MLA on social media! Like and Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest real-time updates from MLA staff, library news, inspirational and educational posts and more! We also ask that you share this invitation with friends and help us extend our reach so important advocacy updates and calls to action are heard by library supporters throughout the state.
Uniting the Michigan Library Community
MLA is proud to partner with organizations serving the library community.