County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

Harrison District Library’s ‘Wonderful, Upbeat, Very Good Move-in Day’

Plan that began with 2016 Surrey purchase culminates


HARRISON – The dream undertaken in April of 2016 to purchase and convert the historical Surrey House into a new home for the Harrison District Library was originally intended to be completed in two years. Best laid plans, right? Those two years stretched into seven-plus, but at long last the dream of the forward-thinking board and staff – along with supportive community members – has come to fruition.

Years of planning, fundraising (remember ghost hunters, bake/book sales and the magical Front Porch Concerts?), pandemic patience, oodles of adaptations and plain old hard work have led to the project’s zenith. Some of the planned landscaping has been done, as has the composite decking porch renovation. A new concrete approach has been installed, as has an exterior book drop. The intended drive-thru, however, has been moved to the “maybe sometime in the future” list.

The building itself also has been ready: technology, WiFi, computers and security systems. So, aside from inevitable punch list items, the renovated structure stood ready for the well-orchestrated work of transferring all that was shelved and in storage in the former library building. And a lendable collection that includes 29,000 items is a lot to move cart by cart.

The historical section had already been moved prior to the major book transfer. The move itself managed to dodge the drizzly which had been forecasted for the morning of Monday, Aug. 14. The plan was to get everything moved by 2 p.m. that day, with the rest of the closure week dedicated to organizing the circulation desk and finishing construction items.

Of course, just as with a home move, the library has seen this move as an opportunity to take a long, hard look at culling some items collected over time which may no longer be necessary or have relevance.

With the same sort of precision-driven coordination required to keep shipping docks flowing and commerce on the move, the cart relay circuits of Harrison District Library chugged steadily along – no time wasted, no steps missed. The staffers and volunteers from other area libraries all brought their “A” game to the task as the substantial volume of books and other materials were transported into HDL’s new digs.

Nick Loomis, assistant library/IT director, had invested considerable thought into planning the delivery/return loops, and along with Bissonnette’s labeling plan, most efficiently reshelve books into the new stacks. Through a grant, the library was able to order and purchase $50,000-plus of new shelving.

And the teams were well-prepared – teams that included staff from Clare, Coleman and Gladwin libraries. The Clare Pere Marquette Library actually closed as an in-service day Monday because the library board felt it was important to support the Harrison District Library. Also on hand were representatives of the VFW Post 1075 Auxiliary.

In all, the plan called for teams of more than 26 hearty souls who stepped up to tackle the move. There were three teams inside the old library (B, C and Y) who filled carts, moving large sections of books, retaining their order. The carts then went out (via Team E) to other transport teams (F, G, J and H) to be guided down the sidewalk to the new library. There, the carts were handed off to a team (I) dedicated to directing each cart to its proper placement among the stacks, with the books then reshelved by three more teams (A, D and K). An additional two Miscellaneous Teams, plus one Cleaning Team filled out Loomis’s work plan.

The library posted its closure for the week of Aug. 14-23, allowing what should be enough time for resituating the lion’s share of materials. The dream that took its first steps in June of 2016 is expected to be a fully-grown reality for the Aug. 25-26 Harrison Street Fair. Angela Kellogg, support services librarian and local history maven, said her HDL History Room will be open regular library hours for Street Fair attendees to peruse and enjoy – and possibly later on Saturday, depending on how busy Street Fair is.

Of note for those folks who have always enjoyed the used book sale the library offered during Street Fair – the library’s used books were sold earlier this year in an effort to minimize the number of books to be moved, thus there will be no books for sale this year. But, fear not, the restocking of used books will continue, and the book sales will return.


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