Detroit — One hundred years is an awfully long time to exist without a makeover.
So with a splash of paint, updated LED lighting, new flooring, updated computers and furniture, the Duffield Public Library was ready for her close-up Saturday.
The centennial reopening of the grand dame on West Grand Boulevard not far from Henry Ford Health System’s main campus, was held with a ribbon-cutting, platters of food, punch with sherbet and cake and coffee. The library’s 39th annual Albert H. Mallory Black Hero Essay and Oratorical Contest also was held during the celebration. Jo-Ann Mondowney, executive director of the Detroit Public Library said the library had been closed for nearly a year to perform the renovations.
She said the $400,000 was paid for with public tax dollars.
Mondowney said libraries still have a place, although some feel easy access to Google from their mobile phones has replaced that need.
“People come together to talk about literary things and they grow and gain from one another,” she said. “We have book clubs and programs for both young people and adults.”
But times change and there now are only 22 libraries in Detroit, where Mondowney said there once were 36.
“We are the people’s university,” she said. “We are the on-ramp to the internet for people who otherwise would not have access.”
Keela Scott of Detroit, remembers coming to the library to use the computers when they were big and clunky. She said she has not been back to Duffield in years.
“It has changed a whole lot and I really like it,” she said. “I was just telling my daughter she’s going to have to get a library card because she loves reading and I’d like to bring her back here.”
Her daughter, Kanyra Reed, 8, said among her favorite books is Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham.”
“Yes, I love to read and I really like the way this library looks,” she said.
Nicole McNeil was at the re-opening with her six children, ages 14 to 6. Her son Willie Parker Jr., 8, was rehearsing his speech for the oratorical competition.
“I like this library because they have a lot of interesting books to read,” he said. “They inspire me because some of them are my favorites.” Among his favorites are the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
Franklin Jackson, president of the Detroit Public Library Commission, said taxpayers need to see where their money is going.
“We cannot justify being on the tax rolls with property taxes if we are not taking care of facilities, so we must justify the money,” said Jackson. “Citizens pay taxes and they have an expectation to have good service.”
Among other libraries recently renovated are Redford, Frederick Douglass and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Next on the list is Edison library near Southfield and Joy.