Grace A. Dow Memorial Library

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Grace A. Dow Memorial Library
Established 1899, 1953
Location Midland, Michigan
Coordinates 43°37′33″N 84°14′53″W / 43.6258°N 84.2481°W / 43.6258; -84.2481Coordinates: 43°37′33″N 84°14′53″W / 43.6258°N 84.2481°W / 43.6258; -84.2481
Size 262,065 (2010)
Access and use
Circulation 860,380 (2010)
Population served 75,215 (2010)
Other information
Budget $3.8 million[1]
Director Melissa Barnard (2004-)
Staff 51

The Grace A. Dow Memorial Library is the public library of the City of Midland and serves residents of Midland and of the contracting Midland County townships: Edenville, Greendale, Homer, Hope, Ingersoll, Jerome, Larkin, Lee, Lincoln, Midland, Mills, and Mt. Haley.[2]


In 1899, Midland Library Association was formed as a subscription library with 25 charter members paying $1 a year that entitled them to check out 1 book a week for the year. Mary Dow, sister to Herbert H. Dow, was the first librarian. In 1900, The Library Association opened their subscription library in a room at the Unitarian Church with a collection of 100 books. In May, 1900, a Free Reading Room was established with the support of local manufacturers and businesses. In 1915, the Library Association transferred control of the Midland Library and Free Reading Room to the Midland Board of Education. In 1919, the Carnegie Library opened next to the Community Center on Townsend Street.[3]

The Library Board was dissolved in 1951 and the City of Midland established a Library Advisory Board. All Library employees became employees of the City of Midland.

A new library was opened on Monday, January 24, 1955 at the corner of West St. Andrews Street and Eastman Avenue. It was named the "Grace A. Dow Memorial Library" after architect Alden B. Dow's mother. Grace A. Dow, wife of Herbert Henry Dow (founder of the Dow Chemical Company), was instrumental in the construction of the new library. After her death in 1953, before construction began, the library was named in her memory. The new Grace A. Dow Memorial Library celebrated 50 years in this building in 2005.

On October 21, 2012, library director Melissa Barnard announced a $3 million grant from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to pay for infrastructure improvements and interior remodeling. Including this gift, the foundation has given $9.1 million to the library since 1938.[4] Renovation work took place from the end of 2013 through the beginning of 2014 and included carpet and furniture replacement, HVAC replacement, wood refinishing on the Mezzanine, and the change to RFID tagging in library materials.[5] The renovations changed the interior of the library to better align with Alden B. Dow's vision for the building.[6]

Grace A. Dow Memorial Library in Midland (click to enlarge)


The library provides access to information to members of the community through print and non-print resources. Knowledgeable staff help connect users to these resources to meet their needs. The library provides access to the internet free of charge to all visitors (time limits are in place), through dedicated computers, rental laptops, a building-wide wireless network, and netbooks for youth. Cardholders can visit the library's website to access a wide selection of specialized databases, downloadable e-audio books, eBooks, and more. Library card holders can access their accounts, place holds, renew items, search databases, and download audio books and eBooks from home or business computers. Information on services and programs can be found on the library webpage.

Educational & enrichment programming for adults includes computer classes, speakers on many topics, a library-sponsored book discussion group, Battle of the Books for adults, community reads, and a Summer Reading Program. In addition, volunteers are available weekday afternoons to help with in-depth genealogy research.

Programming for children includes storytimes, the Beyond Books literacy center, the Discovery Depot play area, a Summer Reading Program, Battle of the Books for fourth and fifth graders, and other book discussions and activities.

For teens, the library offers the "Teen Spot" teen room, book-related programs, a volunteer program, and a Summer Reading Program.

The library building has meeting rooms, a community room, and auditorium available for rent, a quiet reading room and individual study areas, gathering spaces for small groups, and a gallery that can be rented for exhibitions.[7] The former Cup and Chaucer coffee shop, a partnership with the Arnold Center, closed in 2016.


Library collections include print and downloadable books for all ages; CD, mp3, and downloadable audiobooks for all ages; theatrical movies, foreign films, documentaries, and educational DVDs. Special collections include graphic novels for children, teens, and adults; large print books; and a genealogy and local history collection.[8]

About the library[edit]

The Friends of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library group raises money for the library through book sales.[9] The group's fundraising efforts support not only such programming as Battle of the Books and the Summer Reading Program, but also physical updates to the building such as the recent renovation of the Library Auditorium. Some members of the Friends of the Library were commended in 2013 for having volunteered with the group since its inception 40 years before.[10]

The building is also home to the studios and offices of Midland Community Television, the Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV channel for Midland, which cablecasts three stations on the local Charter cable system.

The library features a large children's section and a Teen Spot, a place specially for 6th through 12th graders, and includes many young adult books, computers, comfortable seating and an island table.

The library also rents laptops out for use within the building and has free WiFi.

Honors and awards[edit]

The library received the Michigan State Librarian's Excellence Award for exemplary public service in 2005. The honor, which includes a $5,000 grant and a trophy, is given to one library in the state each year.[11]

Patrons from the library were able to win a nationwide contest in early 2011: "I Love My Library". Their entries included an explanation as to why their library deserved to win the award.[12]


  1. ^ "2013-14 Library budget" (PDF). City of Midland, Michigan. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  2. ^ " "Service Area of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library"
  3. ^ Yates, Dorothy Langdon. Tell Me a Story - for One Hundred Years: The Grace A. Dow Memorial Library. 2000.
  4. ^ "Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Receives $3 Million". Philanthrophy News Digest. October 21, 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Midland library renovations moving along". Midland Daily News. December 20, 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  6. ^ "Midland library's new look is uncluttered, honors architect". Midland Daily News. April 9, 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Friends of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library
  10. ^ "'Friends' book sorters help library for 40 years". Midland Daily News. May 4, 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  11. ^ Warner, Casey (October 28, 2005). "Midland's Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Wins State Librarian's Excellence Award for Innovative, Top-Notch Service". Library of Michigan. Archived from the original on 26 December 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Eggleston, Sam (January 18, 2011). "Grace A. Dow Memorial Library wins national audiobook sweepstakes". Mid-Michigan's Second Wave. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 

External links[edit]