In the spring of 2008, a group of dedicated volunteers joined together with the dream of establishing a public library in Pickford, Michigan. By promoting the dream and recruiting additional volunteers, the Friends of Pickford Community Library (FPCL) formed and initially operated under the Chippewa County Community Foundation. The group quickly forged ahead and started planning fundraisers.
FPCL had three purposes for its fundraisers: to provide needed income, to provide chances to promote the dream of a public library, and to provide unique family-friendly social opportunities for Pickford. The group spent much of its first year organizing and developing fundraisers to help start the project.. Five years later, some of these fundraisers continue.
While FPCL was still in its early stages, the group approached Ken Miller, the director of Bayliss Public Library, which already had five rural branches. FPCL wanted to determine if Mr. Miller would consider opening a Pickford branch. He informed the group that if it could raise enough money to run a three-year interim library and find a suitable location, he would add the library branch. Miller indicated, at that time, that it would be up to FPCL to put a millage on the ballot during that three-year period to provide permanent public support for the library.
With that goal, FPCL went through project-management training in the spring of 2009 and spent the summer of 2009 undergoing fundraising training and hosting several public focus groups to promote the dream and to obtain public input about the project. FPCL also began looking at all the possible locations for the future library and ultimately chose the Amish Heirlooms building. Next, FPCL worked with Ken Miller to establish a three year budget. The shoe-string budget showed FPCL that it needed a total of $115,000 to run the new library; penal fines from the state of Michigan would account for about $25 thousand of that amount for the three-year period, and about $5,000 would be from estimated donations and overdue fines for that same time period; so Mr. Miller gave FPCL the goal of raising $85,000.
The group then put together a comprehensive campaign and began making personal requests for money as well as writing grants. By spring 2010, the group had raised two thirds of the needed money, and Ken Miller agreed to proceed and open the library. The library celebrated its grand opening on October 23, 2010 and has continued growing since that time. The following October, Friends of Pickford Community Library received its own 501c3 status, making FPCL itself an independent non-profit organization.
After the infant library opened and was in the process of organizing, Bayliss began working toward establishing a district library system that would benefit all the libraries involved. In November 2013, voters passed a .5 millage to support all the libraries included in the new Superior District Library system. Pickford Community Library is a
member of this group due to its branch affiliation with Bayliss Public Library; however, the distribution of funds is somewhat based on school district populations and the distribution involves administrative costs. The passed millage will provide some funding to Pickford Community Library but will not come close to providing all its operating expenses. This means that FPCL must continue to provide substantial operating funds. In addition, the group is continually looking for ways to improve the library and to offer additional services and programs.
In addition to funding the library, in 2011, FPCL moved ahead with plans to enhance the presence of the library in the community. Two focus groups were held during the summer of 2011 asking the public to help define the library’s next phase. During these conversations, community residents indicated that an arts and learning center would greatly enhance the community life in Pickford, Michigan. Having heard the voice of its constituents, FPCL worked diligently to acquire space adjoining the library in order to accommodate performing and visual arts classes, community events, and library programming. Through the generosity of Tim and Janice Curtis, the current owners of the building, the PAL Center (Pickford Arts and Learning Center) opened its doors shortly thereafter.
The primary focus of the PAL Center, which has greatly enhanced the community life of Pickford, has been to serve as a community room for the library. Some of the library activities and resources offered to the community as a result having access to the PAL Center are author talks and book-signings, family movie nights, special presentations and discussions, and community literacy activities such as the Michigan Humanities Council and National Endowment for the Arts “Making Sense of the Civil War” program held February to April of 2013, the “Muslim Journeys” program held in March and April of 2014, and the “Pushing the Limits” science series currently being held.
The PAL Center is available to community members and organizations, artists, and other businesses for events, classes, programs, etc. Anyone wishing to use the PAL Center should contact Pat Hunter at 647-8801 or at email@example.com.
A nd of course, the arrival of Ann Marie Smith in May of 2012 is a very important piece in the history of the library. Ann Marie entered an infant library; and within less than two years, has turned it into thriving enterprise with ever-increasing circulation, interesting and popular programming, and an ever-growing presence in the Pickford Community. Ann Marie has carefully guided the library, to the point where it has outgrown the infant and toddler stage, has entered its next phase, and is ready to continue growing in the future.
Now in 2014, two of the bigger obstacles to tackle are obtaining consistent funding and securing a building with a dependable heat. With the help of the community, FPCL will continue to support the growth of this worthwhile project. Also, 2014 has presented FPCL with an added incentive to increase fundraising. An anonymous donor is willing to donate $10,000. if the group can raise a minimum of $20,000. during the 2014 calendar
year. With your help, FPCL plans to reach this goal and earn this generous donation; and in doing so, further improve what can be offered to you at the library.
Although FPCL continues to hold fundraisers and explore many sources of revenue, such as grants, it still depends on you, the community, to assist in keeping your library going and growing. Please consider the ways you can help: contribute financially, attend board meetings, host your own fundraiser, or perhaps consider joining the board.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or any of the board members. A complete list of current board members can be found on the website.
Melanie Greenfield Chairman of the Friends of Pickford Community Library