Growing up at the Library

“This is my library baby!” patron Ruby Brower proudly proclaimed as she lovingly introduced me to her grandson, Tyrin. She went on to explain that she moved to South Bend for a job which fell through, and then found herself in a predicament which left her homeless. It was at that critical time in her life she discovered the library, and the resources proved to be just what she needed. 

Over the years many library staff members have played a role in Ruby’s life. The literacy services proved to be a wonderful aide as she was homeschooling her daughter, Kimmy. Brower remembers one staff member in particular, Shannon Belcher. She “just took Kimmy up under her wings, and they began to talk about things that she didn’t even talk with me about. She felt comfortable with Shannon. If she needed some information, she went to Shannon who would help her look it up. It was amazing, they had this amazing relationship,” Brower described.

While her daughter was busy with school work, Brower was able to start her own business and run it using tools in the computer lab at Main Library. She also made use of the services–and the knowledgeable staff–at Studio 304. “Matt Wynn was working there when I first started using it,” she recalls. “One of the things he always used to say to me was, ‘No Ruby I’ll teach you how to do it, so that when I’m not around you’ll be able to do it yourself.’” Using Studio 304, Brower wrote books, designed book covers, and created videos and other marketing materials for her business.

With all the time Kimmy spent at the library, she met another library patron, named Chris. Soon, they  started doing their school work together and completed their high school education. As time progressed they fell in love, decided to get married, and along came their “library baby,” Tyrin. Kimmy, Chris and Tyrin all moved out of state, but every time they come to visit Ruby they stop by the library too!

“When I say South Bend” and more 574 Stories

“When I say South Bend, I mean my South Bend,” says Lily Francis, a sophomore and young poet. Lily Francis is one of twelve local high school students who were invited to participate in 574 Stories, a five-day intensive creative writing workshop led by the South Bend Community School Corporation at Studio 304 at Main Library. 

574 Stories aimed to empower young writers and share “diverse voices and perspectives.” Participating students studied literature, took field trips to several South Bend landmarks, including Studio 304 at Main Library, and wrote stories about their homes, families, and life in South Bend (South Bend Community School Corporation). Stories from the twelve students were published in an anthology titled, 574 Stories, and students shared their stories at a special reading and celebration at the Brown Community Learning Center in September.

Lily Francis, young poet and author of a few 574 Stories including “When I Say South Bend” shared her powerful story with us on social media. Lily Francis reads,

“When I say South Bend
I mean my South Bend
I mean the Public Schools Unite sign on that front yard
Pride flags and Black Lives Matter
I mean the Mulberry trees that birthe fruit for the summer
I mean the Morning Man on West Washington

When I say South Bend
I mean the geese
And I mean all of them
I mean the Taquería lady on Western Avenue
And the kids down the street screaming across the front lawn in swim trunks
And the white lady in early spring
Looking to see if the seeds she planted
Have grown since then”

These unique perspectives on life in South Bend and several other 574 Stories are available at each of the Library’s branches in South Bend.


  • Garvey, Monica. “High School Students Take Part in New ‘574 Stories’ Project.” HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TAKE PART IN NEW “574 STORIES” PROJECT, June 22, 2022.
  • “SBCSC High School Students Launch ‘574 Stories’ Anthology with Public Reading and Reception,” September 23, 2022. South Bend Community School Corporation. 

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