Life in Michiana

It’s that time again!  It is time to pick up your camera, look around you, and capture what you see. Or, maybe you have been taking photos all year long and have a favorite or two you would like share. On behalf of the library, I would like to enthusiastically invite you to participate in our annual photo contest/exhibit.  We will start taking entries this Saturday, October 1. Entries can be dropped off at the Main library at the Reference and Information Desk on the 1st floor.

If you are not familiar with our annual event, I will gladly give you a bit more information.  One question I have been asked recently is “Where exactly is Michiana.” Great question!

Michiana is a region in northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan centered on the city of South Bend, Indiana. And, here’s a map:

So, if this is where you live, then we want to see your version of that area. What makes your community great? What excites you?  What story would you like to tell? We would love to see!

Maybe you like to capture nature.

Or your favorite day at your favorite place.

Or maybe you would like to photograph your favorite cafe or place to hang out in the area.

Or maybe you are just out walking and you see a really cool reflection in the window and you think it makes a great story.

Or you happen to just be in the right place at the right moment.

Celebrating our eighteenth year, Life in Michiana features photographs submitted by people like you, who enjoy taking photos of every day life, capturing a beautiful moment when the light is just right or a lovely photo of family and friends, or even a favorite local landmark. This is all about celebrating your community and what it means to you. You do not have to be a professional photographer to enter. All entries submitted will be exhibited December 19 through January 22, 2017.  You can enter up to 3 matted photographs. Each photograph must be have an entry form. And please write clearly.  There will even be a special award given this year for the best representation of Indiana’s Bicentennial. You have until December 1st to get your entries in, so, get out there and snap away!

Happy Birthday, South Bend

Can you believe it, summer is nearly upon us and I have not even thought about all the things I want to do this summer! Usually by now I have a list a mile long of all the places I want to visit, things I want to do, and projects that need to be finished. Seems like yesterday I was shuffling though the snow wishing for more sun and warmer temperatures. We are nearing the end of May already and Michiana is ripe with color and fragrance! It is as if we have gone from black and white to Technicolor overnight! My youngest has successfully completed her freshman year at Bloomington and acclimating to life back home for the summer (I remember last year at this time bemoaning her leaving the nest).  And with the Memorial Day weekend upon us, it’s time to dust off those lawn chairs and start making plans for the few months ahead. 

One thing I know for sure, for at least this coming weekend, I will be sticking close to home.  This weekend commemorates the 150th birthday of South Bend! And there is quite the party planned! Most of the action will take place on and around the river, with different hubs of activity throughout. We are talking zip lines, helicopter rides, light shows, art, music, and so much food! 

Although I did not grow up in South Bend, I have made this area my home for the past 30+ years.  Yes, I could have probably could have moved elsewhere, but truthfully, I have grown quite found of my adopted city. It is small enough to be accessible and big enough to offer a wide range of activity to satisfy most everyone’s interests.  It has been a great place to raise my kids and a fun and interesting place to hang out.  And, if I were to name one thing that I love most, it would have to be the St. Joseph River. No matter the season, or the time of day, it has been an unlimited source of delight for my family and me. We have walked, biked, canoed, and played along the river. I never grow tired of its changing beauty through the seasons or the way the light reflects and sparkles on it’s surface. 

In addition to the river, here are a few more reasons to love South Bend:

  1. South Bend Farmer’s Market.  The market was established in 1911 and has been at its current location since 1928. This time of year is especially wonderful. On Saturday mornings it is bustling with people and a delight to the senses. And starting this month, the market will be open til 6 on Tuesdays and Thursdays!
  2. Potawatomi Park and Zoo. This is one of the oldest zoos in Indiana. My girls and I have spent many an afternoon animal watching.  The greenhouse was part of our weekly afterschool venture to the library and park.
  3. Studebaker National Museum. What a wonderful slice of South Bend history! These cars are works of art. The museum is spectacular! And remember, we have museum passes to check out at the library.
  4. Downtown South Bend. When I was a kid, the big adventure of the week was to come to the big city of South Bend. I remember driving down Portage Avenue and looking at all the big houses and businesses along the way, anticipating our big shopping trip. My best memory is going to Sears and getting sour cherry candies for the trip home. The downtown area struggled for many years and for a while there really was no downtown to come to. Now, it has become my favorite place to hang out. It is vibrant and alive. I love walking around during my lunch hour and spending my weekends listening to local music.
  5. St. Joseph County Public Library.  What can I say, this is one of best library systems in the country. And, I may be a little biased, but this is one of the coolest places to hang out. I am also quite lucky to work here. One of the cool things that I have recently enjoyed using is looking through the postcards, which is part of Michiana Memory, Local History’s digitized collection. Check out this beautiful collection and explore some of South Bend’s history. And, while I am on the subject of the library, we have just added another really cool item you can check out: Telescopes! Say what??!! Beginning May 21 you will be able to check out a telescope for 21 days. These telescopes will be available in the Children's Services of the Main Library and most of the city branches. This project was made possible through a small grant from SB150 and the Michiana Astronomical Society as part of a "Scope out South Bend" initiative.

This is only a small list of the things that South Bend and the surrounding area has to offer, but both time and space are limited here. So, get out there, enjoy and explore and, don a party hat and celebrate South Bend’s 150th!

Celebrating Libraries!

 Since 1958,  a week in April is set aside to celebrate the wonders of libraries.  This week is appropriately called NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK! For us, it’s a lot like celebrating Spirit Week at school. We get to dress up, stand out, and unite as a team to celebrate and bring attention to the services provided by our library.  And, although libraries have definitely changed a lot since 1958, we are still just as valuable and relevant.

“Libraries are more relevant than ever.

They are a place for personal growth and reinvention,

a place for help in navigating the information age,

a gathering place for civic and cultural engagement and

a trusted place for preserving culture.

While the technology for accessing library materials has changed and will continue to change,

our mission – to inform, to share and to gather – will not.”

Luis Herrera, Library Journal’s 2012 Librarian of the Year.

We still have printed books, but we also have e-books, audio books and streaming movies, and music. We provide instruction and exploraton of new technologies and engaging programs for people of all ages.

When I am out and about and talking about the library, I am amazed by all the misconceptions and lack of information about our services that people have, including my own family (my girls have practically grown up in the library). For example, this past week I took my family to the Studebaker Museum (If you haven't taken the time to visit this amazing museum, please do yourself a favor. The cars are absolute works of art. The history of the Studebaker Manufacturing Company is facinating. And, if you have young children there is "service station" for them to work on their own Studebaker. Go now) .  “Wow Mom, this is the greatest, how did you get a free pass?” As I have told them many times before, you can check out museum passes. “What??!!!”  In addition to the Studebaker Museum we also have passes for Healthworks, the History Museum and Fernwood. More surprised gasps and “you never told us!” Yes, of course I did. But, it does make me realize that because people still do not realize that the library is more than books and story times. So, in celebration of National Library Week, I thought I might remind you of all we have to offer and some behind the scenes information, too. So, here are few things you may not know or have forgotten:

Computer Classes – Free basic computer classes are available for adults at the Main Library. Brush up on Microsoft word, Power Point, Excel or learn how to get an e-book.

Flipster – Digital magazines at the touch of a keyboard

e-books – Check out all the latest novels and non-fiction titles. We also offer classes that guide you through the process. And, if you are confused about the different devices, Sights and Sounds has a "petting zoo" of different devices.

Hoopla – streaming music, movies and audiobook.

Online Courses – Gale Courses and Lynda.Com – More free classes!

Museum Passes – History Museum, Fernwood, Healthworks and Studebaker

Book sales – Located in the Friends for the Library building behind the Main library.

Studio 304 – We have a 3-D printer, a green room for making videos, recording studios, color printers and scanners and computers for editing and digitizing.

Local History – Michiana Memories -a digital collection of maps, postcards and photographs.

Dial-a-Story – The Children's Department does some amazing things!  Check out there new YouTube channel and enjoy a wonderful story!

Programs– we offer a wide variety of programs that is engaging to patrons of all ages. In addition to our annual programs like Science Alive!, One Book, and Open book, we also have monthly programs at every location.

Ask a Lawyer – one of our most popular programs. Lawyers from the Volunteer Lawyer network come to the library 3 times a year to answer your legal questions. Our next Ask-a-Lawyer event takes place at the Main library on Monday, April 27.

If you have been curious about how items magically appear on our shelves, here's a glimpse of how it's done by the numbers.  First, reviews are read. Our head of Aquistions reads as many as 50 reviews a day to help decide what will go into the collection. That does not include the additional requests for titles to be ordered from staff or patrons. On an average week, 372 titles are ordered and 448 titles received in approximately 183 boxes! The items are then cataloged at the rate of around 92 titles a day! The items are then processed and barcoded. Items are then checked for holds (well over 120 per day) and placed on the shelves for you to check out. On an average day we check out around 5,620 items! And, close to 50 customers enter the door every hour!

So, stop by, explore and engage your senses. There is much to see and do at the library. And, while the technolgy has changed, our mission has not. We will always be a gathering place for storing and sharing ideas and information. For more information on the state of the library, here's the latest report from the American Library Assocation. And, if you would like to read more about librarys are library-themed books, check here.




Go Take a Hike

As you have probably guessed by now, I am an advocate for getting outside. I believe that spending just a few minutes outside, and away from the noise of the city, can improve one’s mood dramatically. I call it nature therapy.  I also believe that being physically active is just as important as breathing. I am a much nicer and calmer person if I have had my "outside" time.  If you have had a bad day, go take a walk.  Or, if you need to clear your head, take a hike. And, one of the best places to take a hike is in the woods.

There is something magical about taking a walk in the woods. Each season has it’s own beauty and treasures to be discovered. Spring is one my favorite times of the year to hike, especially early spring, with the remnants of winter still visible and the new green of life emerging.  It is a treat for all the senses, with the smell of dirt, the sound of birds; the crunching of leaves and sticks under your feet and the breeze rattling the branches. I always come away feeling renewed.

New life emerging from the earth.


New paths to unexpected places. This one took my brother and I to the mouth of the creek that flows behind my parent's house. The only sounds were the ribbiting frogs and our feet squelching in the mud.

Tiny treasures discovered under the leaves.

Lush greens.

Bare feet to touch the earth once again after a long winter.  Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Spending time outside with children is a great way to connect and explore together. See the world through the eyes of child and you will be amazed all over again.

There are many great places to go hiking in and around South Bend. One of my favorites is Fernwood Botanical Gardens and Nature Preserve.  You can check out a pass from the library for yourself and family for free (up to 6 people)!

If you are in the mood to read a bit more about the many ways to love and enjoy nature, try these titles.


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