BRIDGMAN — The Bridgman Public Library has a new director, who has arrived at an extremely busy time for the library.
Dennis Kreps succeeded Gretchen Evans, now director of the Paw Paw Library, less than a month before the start of an extensive interior renovation project.
The project is scheduled to close the library from Sept. 20 to Oct. 5. It includes: replacing all carpet; new paint; replacing the centrally located computer kiosk with computer tables in two sections of the library (the number of computers won’t be reduced) to open up the middle space for events; adding more modern furnishings; upgrading and adding lighting; centralizing the book shelves; creating a teen space; and a “maker space lite” area featuring access to services such as Adobe programs and 3-D printing.
“I’m really pleased about this renovation because I think it’s going to open up more space where we can do more programs here,” Kreps said.
The annual Friends of the Library sponsored Community Wide Garage Sale also takes place soon, Sept. 13-14. It had previously taken place in mid-May.
Kreps said new this year for the sale are tables in the library parking lot that can be rented out by sellers.
Kreps said he has “worked in libraries of all shapes and sizes,” including public libraries and an academic library in Indiana.
Kreps has lived in Kalamazoo the past 15 years, where for nine years he was librarian and archivist at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. He then served as director of the Richland Community Library for five years. For the last year he has split his time between the Kalamazoo and Portage Public Libraries, primarily at reference desks.
Kreps started in Bridgman on Aug. 21. He got to spend some time with Evans before she left for Paw Paw Library. Evans had been in Bridgman for six years.
“I think she made good connections in the community and really established the library,” Kreps said. “It’s really a gift to come to a library that has those well-established connections in the community.”
Kreps said he is very interested in making sure the Bridgman library is an integral part of the community. He sees libraries as one of the last bastions of “real, healthy Democracy” and a “great socio-economic equalizer.”
“We’re here to serve everyone. ... It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is.”
He said nearly everyone knows what a library basically does, and with modern technology more resources can be provided, such as access to the internet, WiFi, printing services, a variety of free offers programs for all ages, a core partner in early literacy training for children, and a conduit to free online-based services such as Overdrive, which offers access to thousands of eBooks and eAudio titles.
Kreps noted that the free WiFi signal at the Bridgman Library is on 24 hours a day.
He also described the the library as a physical place where people can meet informally or formally.
One idea Kreps has is to invite artists and musicians to provide a connection to the arts.
Kreps said he has been exploring the community to get a feel for what is important to area residents and what they want the library to be.
“It’s really a significant goal of mine to have the library be an accessible, comfortable, fun place for people,” he said.