There are lots of exciting things happening at Battle Creek's Willard Library locations, thanks in part to generous gifts left to the institution.

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Much needed renovations will make both locations more accessible while adding even more tools for residents. Work at the Helen Warner branch will likely have a greater impact on visitors during these projects.

The Mingus Creek Place branch will be closed throughout May. While closed, the whole building will be repainted and recarpeted. Lessons learned from the pandemic will make it possible for patrons to have curbside access at the downtown branch as well as continued internet access to most of the library materials.

In addition to paint and carpeting, the branch’s new Joanne TenBrink Creative Space will be installed. The Creative Space will feature some new equipment as well as some items that are also available in the downtown Creative Space.

The equipment will include; 2 Silhouette Cameo 4 vinyl-cutting machines, a sewing machine, a heat press, a Cricut mug press, a photo box, a mini heat-press, a jewelry repair kit, and metal stamping equipment.

In 2021, Joanne TenBrink's will left $95,0000 to the library. A Willard Library spokesperson noted she had been a longtime patron at the Helen Warner Branch and was passionate about sewing, crafts, and quilting.

The Dean O. Barnum Amphitheater, located behind the Helen Warner Branch, will get sunshades which will make summer program attendees much more comfortable in the summer sun.

When Dean O. Barnum died in 2020, the Barnum-Willard Trust was funded with $1 million for the benefit of the library. Barnum had a deep love for nature, among his many other interests.

Work on both branches will be aimed at increasing access and opportunities for users.

Perhaps the most exciting is the work to make the downtown branch ADA compliant.  The downtown West Van Buren Street location will see the first floor restrooms remodeled and a brand new elevator installed to replace the old one which was last updated nearly three decades ago.

Restrooms will still be available on the second floor. Work on the elevator is expected to take four weeks and will not be accessible during that time. Thankfully, guests will be able to use the Battle Creek Public School's elevator located in the lobby to reach the second floor, according to a release.

Each year, the Library evaluates needed facility updates and renovations to improve guests’ experiences when visiting the library. Many of the planned projects have been on our to-do list for quite a while. ~ Library Director Cathy Lucas

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