Library centennial celebration

Kelly and Parker DeRose strolled around the Loutit District Library following a rousing Irish concert put on by a Grand Haven High School orchestral group, GOTAK.
Becky Vargo
Jan 12, 2014

“What a fabulous community center,” Kelly exclaimed as she helped her 3-year-old daughter select a cupcake from the display.

“Not only for exposure to great literature, but also for exposure to community events for young and old alike,” said the Roosevelt Park resident.

The DeRoses were among a few hundred people attending an open house Sunday afternoon celebrating the library’s centennial.

Parker often attends story time at the library with her dad, Kelly said.

DeRose is an orchestra director for Mona Shores schools and is also good friends with the GOTAK director – another good reason for being here today, she said.

Opposite the library’s grand entrance, Joyce Martyn looked over a historical display case with former library director Sandie Knes.

“I always enjoy libraries, Martyn said. “I also enjoy books.”

“I’m so excited that they’re celebrating this,” Knes said. “It’s nice to know that Grand Haven has been served so well for 100 years.”

Library Director John Martin opened the celebration with a little bit of library history before the entertainment started.

“On Jan. 5, 1914, the building opened its doors for the first time,” he said pointing to a banner showing a picture of the original structure.

“Andrew Carnegie gave $12,500 to build that library,” he said.

That building, located at the corner of Columbus and Third streets, currently the Fifth Third Bank parking lot, closed when the new building opened in 1967 at its current location. 

The facility received its extensive remodel in 2009, according to Library Board president Dennis Craun.

The fact that the library has been here this long “provides a reminder that libraries are important to communities,” he said. “It provides a number of services that all ages can appreciate.”

Librarians still manned the desks and clients toured the stacks as the music traveled through the library.

The concert was a nice surprise to Kaylee VanDyke of Grand Haven, who sat on the floor with her nose in a book, while the musicians performed a few feet away.

“I just started coming back here a couple of weeks ago,” she said. “It’s so relaxing.

Assistant Library Director Kerry FitzGerald said she looks at the public library as being a people’s university.

“Hopefully we’ll be around for another hundred years,” she said.

Centennial events are planned throughout the year at the library.

Next on the schedule is a program on “Carnegie’s Libraries,” set for 7 p.m. Thursday in the lower level program room A.

Author Paul Vachon will speak about the Andrew Carnegie and the libraries he helped build throughout the U.S.

Display boards and showcases with historical information are placed throughout the library.

For more information, go to the library’s website at

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