Dorr Township Library

The History of the Dorr Township Library

A history of the Dorr Township Library starting in 1940.

The Dorr Township Library opened to the public in the basement of the old Township Hall at 1807 142nd Avenue, on February 2, 1940. This was achieved through a state-wide library project sponsored by the Michigan State Library, the WPA, and the dedication and vision of many interested people from the community. These first officers and directors held an organizational meeting on November 15, 1939. They were: Joseph Bartz, Doris Brenner, Mrs. Oscar Douglas, Mrs. Walter Hatch, Reinder Hoeksema, Mattie Leggett, Mrs. Otto Ludema, Mrs. Vincent Pawloski, Mrs. Rosaleen Podurgiel, Alma Pullen, Rev. and Mrs. Lawrence Veltkamp, and William Wiebenga.

Funding for the library at this time came from many different sources. Although books loaned from the Michigan State Library and the Kellogg Foundation helped, the majority of the budget and materials came through local donations and fund raising. Books were donated privately and through the members of organized book clubs. New material was purchased with money raised from box socials, teas, bake sales, and paper drives. In 1940 the library received $50.00 from the Township Board, which was used to purchase 68 books.  By 1949, the library had grown to include 1,830 books with a yearly circulation of 4,497, 191 readers, and a budget of $340.25.

In September of 1943 the Board voted to open the library every Monday from 11:45 AM to 5:30 PM. Monday was chosen because the Hall would be warmer on that day. The librarian was Mrs. Jennie Frary, who served the residents of Dorr Township until 1956, and began the first Storytime program.

The Dorr Township Library has been fortunate to have had many talented librarians throughout its history. Each one has helped to shape the library, add to its character, and enable it to grow. The director who undoubtedly witnessed the most change was Mrs. Doris Brenner, who served as head librarian from August 1956 through August 1974, and as a Library Board member in later years.

The current Mystery, Western, Native American, and Vertical File collections were begun through the efforts of Mrs. Brenner, as well as the annual Summer Reading Program. 1967 saw growth in the size of the library when a small kitchen was added and the library was able to expand within the Town Hall. Circulation improved from 3,932 items per year in 1950, to well over 13,000 items by 1974. The service area also grew when the Salem branch opened in June of 1968, and again in March of 1974 when the Moline branch began. In memory of her dedication and service, the Library Board established the Doris Brenner Memorial Fund in August 1991. This fund has been used since then to promote children's services.

From its beginning, the Dorr Library has tried to keep pace with the growth of the Township it serves. Many areas within the library have changed in order to better serve the needs of the community. Some of these include programming, hours, technology, collection, and services.

The library is now open 41 hours per week, offers programming such as Preschool Storytime each Wednesday, crafts, Internet access, movie nights, Winter Reading, and other special activities throughout the year. The Summer Reading Program continues to be one of the busiest times at the library with over 400 participants in 2003.

In addition to a diverse selection of books, the collection now includes videos, DVDs, music CDs, books on tape, magazines and downloadable audio books and ebooks. With over 27,000 items, and the resources of the entire Lakeland Library Cooperative, patrons have access to a tremendous variety of items.

The biggest change in recent years is undoubtedly in the area of technology. From a single phone installed on a trial basis in 1967, to access on the World Wide Web, the Dorr Library continues to provide for the needs of the community. Six Internet computers, a word processing computer, two catalog computers, FAX machine, and copier are available at the library. As members of the Lakeland Library Cooperative, patrons are also able to access the Millennium system, which was installed in 2003 and connects more than 80 libraries. Computer users are able to search the entire database, place holds on items to check out at the library, renew, and even access their personal library records. This can be done from the library’s computers or from the comfort of their own home. Our subscription to Overdrive also allows our library patrons to download Audiobooks and Ebooks.

Funding for the library is mainly from state aid, penal fines, a yearly appropriation from Dorr Township and a operating millage. Other sources include donations, revenue sharing, and grants.

Until 1996 these funds also helped to support the branch libraries located in Moline and Salem Township. With the passage of a Millage in the amount of 2.0 mils from the voters in Leighton Township, the Moline branch separated from Dorr in April 1996 and became the Leighton Township Library. The Salem branch was also able to separate in August 1996 with the passage of a Millage from its Township residents.

In 1982, the original building was again remodeled, and in 1996 the library was able to occupy the entire building. The 2,400 square foot space housed equipment, offices, work space, mechanicals, programming, computer stations, and the collection. With the tremendous growth in Dorr Township, and in the use of the library, three Millage campaigns were run to fund a new building or renovate the existing structure. In August 2000, voters approved a Millage of .54 Mils for not more than 10 years, to construct and equip a new library building. Construction on the 7,100 square foot building began in August 2001, on Township land on 18th Street. The facility was finished and opened to the public on January 28, 2002. 

The new library includes more space for books and other material, a community room, separate patron computer room with six stations, study area, and cappuccino/coffee station all housed in an open and light atmosphere. 

A children's garden on the East side of the building includes ABC stepping stones donated by a local 4-H Club, benches, statuary and many flowers and plants. The garden was installed as an Eagle Scout project by Joe Bliss and his Boy Scout Troop.  Now known as Nichole's Garden, it was conceived as a place to remember one child and to be enjoyed by all children.  A stone and plaque are now in place memorializing the children's garden in honor of Nichole Ringeisen. The plaque, donated by Nichole's father, includes the last verse of a poem written by Nichole.

Throughout its history, the Dorr Library has had tremendous support from many residents in the community. These volunteers have been invaluable in fund raising, book sales, and working in the library. Their help and support are very much appreciated. A special thank you to Ida DeKraker, Genevieve Fein, and Josephine Frary for the dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work they gave to the library over the years.

The Dorr Township Library Board and staff are committed to providing the best service, technology, programming, and facilities as possible. We hope to continue to be an organization our community can utilize fully, and serve the residents of Dorr Township through the next millennium.