February 2024 Newsletter: Black History Month, New Director, Seed Library, & More at the Library!

Black History Month, New Director, Seed Library, & More at the Library!

Check out what’s going on at the library in this month’s newsletter.

Featured: Black History Month

February is Black History Month! This year’s theme is “African Americans and the Arts!” To celebrate, check out some of the things the library is offering this month. 

Featured: Seed Library!

Save the date! Our annual seed library will return on March 11, 2024! The ELPL seed library was created as a way to inspire community members to grow their own food, create opportunities for gardeners to grow more varieties of plants in their garden, and to reconnect our community with the traditions of planting and harvesting. 

We have over 100 types of seeds available, including a variety of heirloom vegetable, herb and flower seeds! The seed library will be refreshed and rotated throughout the growing season, so different varieties will be available all summer. Seeds are free to anyone in the community; you don’t need a library card, and you don’t need to check anything out! We simply ask that visitors limit themselves to five seed packets per season so as many people can grow as possible. 

If you have extra seeds you won’t get around to planting, we welcome donations! We are most in need of flower and herb seeds. 

Learn more about the seed library here. You can also start daydreaming about your garden by perusing one of our gardening guides: Top Gardening Guides, Gardening Favorites, and Michigan Gardening.  

Featured: Paging Through the Past

To celebrate ELPL’s 100th birthday, join Phyllis Thode each month as we explore a new decade of the library’s storied history. This month we’ve finally caught up to the present and we’re taking a look at the 2020s. A TON has happened in just the last four years; navigating a global pandemic, creating new art, adding to our collection, and more! Watch the FINAL episode of the series below!

Featured: Library Director Chosen!

We are excited to welcome Kevin King to the position of library director! The Library Board of Trustees unanimously extended the offer at a special meeting on January 10. King will officially begin his new role on March 4, 2024. 

“With assistance from a search committee of committed community members and library staff, the Library Board of Trustees was pleased to interview several qualified candidates for our library director position. We offered the position to Kevin King, who comes with years of library management experience, and who articulated a vision for leading ELPL through staff empowerment and community engagement,” said Trustee Amy Zaagman, Board President. “We are very pleased to share that he accepted our offer and we have successfully negotiated and signed his employment contract today. We encourage everyone to come into the library to welcome Kevin to East Lansing.” 

“I am thrilled to be joining the ELPL Team! I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with an amazing staff dedicated to community, innovation, accessibility, and knowledge,” said Director Kevin King. “In the next few months, I look forward to meeting and listening to as many East Lansing residents as possible. Please do not hesitate to seek me out to let me know what you need from your library.”

Director Kevin King has worked as a librarian at Kalamazoo Public Library (KPL) for over 26 years in a variety of roles. His most recent position was as the Head of Community Engagement, where he managed library branches, community outreach, community engagement, security, and social services teams. He currently serves on the Core Board of Directors for the American Library Association (ALA). Learn more on our blog

Featured: Farewell to Phyllis!

Phyllis Thode, our beloved Community Development Specialist, is retiring after 21 years of service! Celebrate with us on February 25 from 3-5pm as we thank her for her invaluable contributions to the library and wish her the best in retirement!

Featured: Mental Health Resources

February 13 marks the one year anniversary of the mass violence on MSU’s campus. For many people, this will be an especially difficult time that may bring up strong emotions. This is a normal and reasonable response to tragedy, and you are not alone. If you need some extra support during this time, please know that there are resources available in the community to help you. We’ve compiled a list of some of those resources, available here.

ELPL is also collaborating with United Resiliency Center to provide luminaries to the community in remembrance. We will have free luminary “kits” available at the library starting the week of February 5th for anyone who wants one; the kits include white luminary bags, battery-operated tealights, instructions for assembly, and further community resources.

On February 24, we’re partnering with Dr. Priscilla Wade to host a conversation with families to learn how to talk about trauma with children and gain strategies to help families work through big feelings and stressors together. More info here.

Lastly, MSU recently established the February 13 Permanent Memorial Committee, which is dedicated to defining a meaningful, respectful, inclusive, and collaborative process to install a permanent memorial. As part of this process, they will be reaching out to the community in March to ensure a diverse range of voices are heard. If you’d like to contribute feedback about the permanent memorial, be on the lookout this spring; we will be sharing their survey on our social media and in our email newsletters.

Featured: Upcoming Programs

Library programs are free and open to the public; you don’t even need a library card! Unless otherwise noted, no registration is required.

      • Practice your reading aloud skills by reading to dogs! These dogs are great listeners. Please sign up at elpl.org.
      • We'll be discussing Camille Dungy's Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden. Light refreshments provided!
      • This program is rescheduled after getting snowed out in January! Join us for activities based on the “I Survived” book series by Lauren Tarshis.
      • In this 2023 sequel, Miles explores the multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its existence. When they clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must decide for himself what it means to be a hero.
      • Families sometimes need help talking out scary things in the news and in their own lives. Join Dr. Priscilla Wade to learn how to talk about trauma with children and gain strategies to help families work through big feelings and stressors together.
    • Phyllis Thode, our beloved Community Development Specialist, is retiring! Come celebrate her 21 years of service with us as we say farewell to Phyllis and wish her the best in retirement!

Featured: February StoryLine

Check out the line-up for February’s StoryLine! Call to hear a recorded story, 24/7!

Save the Date: Books, Bites, and Bids 2024

Save the date for our silent auction fundraiser, Books, Bites, & Bids! This fun annual event will return on Friday, April 12, in conjunction with National Library Week. Enjoy appetizers, beer and wine, music, and more while you browse available auction baskets to support your local library. Learn more about the event here.

If you or your business are interested in donating items for our silent auction, please reach out to Phyllis at pthode@cityofeastlansing.com by Monday, February 26.

Up and Coming Dates:

  • We will be closed Monday, February 19, for President’s Day.
  • Kevin King will start as Library Director on Monday, March 4. Come in and say hello!
  • The Seed Library returns on Monday, March 11.

Catch ELPL Next Month:

Be on the lookout for more excitement in March! ELPL will be sharing featured reading lists, book displays, and programs throughout the month. Some of the library programs will include:

  • Bug Day
  • Book Clubs
  • Ukulele Classes
  • Wonder Labs
  • And more!

For more information, visit the library’s website or follow ELPL on social media!