Julie Farkas understood there were going to be some challenges when the doors opened to the “new” Novi Public Library 10 years ago on June 1, 2010.
As the Director, she knew the need was there, but still there were doubters who felt it was “too big” and that “books were dying.” Fortunately, the Novi City Council, Library Board and community at-large saw a future where the library served as a community center bringing people together of all ages and from all walks of life.
Looking back on 10 years, the Novi Public Library has become just that. Nearly 464,000 guest visits took place in 2018-19 and more than 937,000 items were checked out. Computer logins exceeded 835,000; meeting room guests were over 17,000; and 22,778 library cards are registered to users.
After its first year of operation the library was awarded the State Librarian’s Excellence Award as Library of the Year, and in 2019 the Library of Michigan awarded NPL a certificate of completion for meeting the Excellent Level of the Quality Services Audit Checklist. Out of over 400 public libraries in Michigan, Novi was the first of just two in the state to receive this honor.
To say the library has exceeded expectations would be an understatement.
“I believe we have proven our success and the need for the library in our community,” Farkas said. “This community embraces the library, embraces growth, and appreciates the opportunities available to them for connectivity and innovation.”
Resident Carol Hoffman has lived in Novi for nearly 40 years, visiting the library in its previous location with her son who today is 34 and now serving on the Friends Board for the last nine years. She remembers wondering “how in the world are we going to ever fill this thing up” when she stepped inside for the first time and yet they have done so and then some.
There’s a dedicated Teen Space that welcomed nearly 4,900 visitors in 2018-19, a former computer lab turned iCube makerspace where visitors are encouraged to play, explore and try a variety of equipment and resources, and a unique collection of artwork featuring close to 1,600 ceramic tiles throughout the building. Gone is the Novi Special race car and in its place is a play area for their littlest guests.
The library even has a brand new café that proudly serves Starbucks coffee and a variety of food options.
But for all the spaces inside the building, it’s the people who truly make it hum. It’s those who pack a room for story time or use a study room to tutor or learn a new language. It’s those who gather on the patio to talk with friends or who bring the family to sign everyone up for the Summer Reading Program.
“It seems like each different group has its own energy,” Hoffman said. “And everyone is more than willing to pitch in and help.” Because of the library’s success over the last 10 years, the question Farkas gets now is “what’s next?”
For starters, she would love to see circulation top 1 million and to see the number of library card users continue to grow. And while the Read Boxes in ITC Community Sports Park, Pavilion Shore Park and Rotary Park have been a rousing success, there’s an extra special treat coming for residents in the north end of the city. When Lakeshore Park reopens this summer it will feature a Lending Library Kiosk - made possible by a $40,000 donation from Community Financial Credit Union - that will allow library cardholders to checkout and return items without having to come to the actual building.
“This is a great way for us to celebrate our 10th birthday,” Farkas said. “It was 10 years ago when we opened the building and now 10 years later we are installing a satellite location that we hope will better connect the residents in the north end of the city with all the library has to offer.”
Farkas is the first to admit the success of the library is due in large part to the people around her. It’s the dedicated volunteers on the Library Board and Friends Board, the passionate and educated staff members and of course a community that continues to show its support and push the envelope for more.
For Hoffman, it’s mind-boggling to her that there are still community members who don’t have a library card and haven’t been in the building or used their services.
“I challenge everyone to come and check it out because you will absolutely find two or three things that are pretty interesting to you and you will come back again,” she said. “You can’t cover everything the library has in one visit…and that doesn’t even account for all the amazing programs.”
To learn more about the Novi Public Library or get your library card, visit novilibrary.org.