Though he has spent his last few years in institutional fundraising, Michael McDonald said he's been eager to get back to where he feels he belongs — the library.
Starting July 15, he's been getting his chance, on that date taking the helm as the new director of the Lansing Community Library.
Originally from the St. Louis area, McDonald attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis for his undergraduate work and the University of Missouri-Columbia for his graduate degree in library science. He's worked in small town libraries before, as well as university-level facilities, and said community libraries like Lansing's serve a unique role. In the case of Lansing, he said there are a number of opportunities to strengthen that role, given the popularity of things like public internet access and children's programming.
“I kind of want to see what is working, trying to meet patrons and find out what they like and dislike,” he said.
However, there are avenues McDonald said he would like to explore already, including bolstering programming for young adults.
“There's kind of a gap sometimes between the children and the adults,” he said. “I kind of want to assess our young adult collection.”
Similarly, he said he would like to explore is partnerships with the Lansing School District's librarians to carry books appearing on summer reading lists.
“Especially during the summer, there are opportunities where we can continue to provide service,” McDonald said. “It's definitely a partnership.”
The role of and demand for technology will almost certainly affect the library in the future, as well — he said he's interested in exploring spaces where patrons can come specifically to create things, spaces where other libraries have invested in technologies like 3-D printing.
Like how McDonald said he never left his training as a librarian behind as he served as the director of constituent relations for Baker University — his most recent job — he said he feels in this way his past in development could serve the library as well.
“I do (see the library leveraging technology more) as budgets permit,” he said. “I'm hoping I can bring my fundraising skills to the job and try to raise some private dollars.”
He is currently reviewing applications for a children's librarian, a position that McDonald said is one he is anxious to fill given the popularity of those programs. But he also praised the library's corps of volunteers, including the Friends of the Lansing Community Library, for what they do.
In addition to the outlets in getting the word out, he said he hopes to expand the reach of the library through social media. Because he said he believes that maintaining a successful library, to some extent, depends on marketing what's already here.
Page 2 of 2 - “We just need to get people through the doors and show them what's available at the library,” he said.