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Capture library history through another kind of storytelling

Librarian Kelly Braun puts books away as she is being filmed in the Superior Public Library on Monday morning. The library is holding a video contest to celebrated its 125th Anniversary. (Jed Carlson/

Bibliophiles have paid homage to libraries in verse, song, dance and video over the years. YouTube is stacked with their contributions —explaining the right way to care for library books, returning “The Book of Power” to the library 30 years late, dancing to tunes like “Bookloose,” “I Like Big Books,” “Libraries Will Survive” and more.

Now, Superior Public Library patrons can create their own movie masterpiece. A video contest is underway to mark the library’s quasquicentennial.

“We want to do something different, something unique to celebrate 125 years,” said librarian Teddie Meronek.

The videos can be 30 seconds to 10 minutes in length, with submissions taken through Aug. 31. Prizes are awarded for the top three videos and staff favorite. All of the movies will be screened during a special film night planned for October.

“We’re looking for creativity,” said librarian Mary O’Shaughnessy. “It doesn’t have to be serious.”

But it does have to have something to do with the library. Moviemakers can sign up to film in the library and even check out a librarian for shots.

The contest is a 21st century way to honor the library, which has remained a community fixture through the rise of the internet, social media and e-books.

About 700 people a day drop by the library, which averages 325,000 checkouts a year.

The library thrives for more than a century “by staying relevant to what people need,” said library director Sue Heskin. One key has been keeping pace with technology — providing computers, free wi-fi, downloadable e-books and even iPads to check out. Another reason for its success, Heskin said, is having great children’s programming that encourages kids as readers. Now, the library is advancing storytelling of a different sort.

Moviemakers could pull back the pages of the library’s history.

The Superior Public Library opened its first chapter in 1889, before the city was even incorporated. It was housed at the original city hall and traveled to three more sites before finding a home in the Carnegie Building on Hammond Avenue in 1902.

The library moved to its current site, a former grocery store at 1530 Tower Ave., in 1992. Branch libraries in the city’s East End, Billings Park and South Superior neighborhoods shut down then and consolidated in the main library.

Another possible movie theme could be what the library means to you, or your first trip to the library. O’Shaughnessy remembers hers well.

“My sister brought me to get a library card when I was 5,” said the librarian. At the time, she lived three blocks away and enjoyed walking over to check out “The Boxcar Children” books.

Meronek got her library card at the East End Library when she was 5, also accompanied by her older sister.

“I can still see it in my mind, it’s as clear as day because it was such a big deal,” she said. Years later, she would work at that same library caring for the Lois Lenski and Carolyn Haywood books she checked out as a child.

Students from Bryant Elementary School are putting together a video on what they like about the library.

“We’re sort of doing it on the fly,” said Linda Kelly, a speech therapist helping with the project. “We’re having fun and it’s a great learning experience for them.” She said filming at the library went well and the staff was awesome to work with. When they found out about the contest, they decided to submit their video, once completed.

“The library is a wonderful resource in our community for kids and families,” Kelly said, and they were happy to bring attention to that.

Library employees even have movie idea of their own. While the script is still unwritten, rumor has it that an accordion player is involved.

The contest could entice young and old to see the Superior Public Library through a new lens.

“I hope people come to see us during the 125th anniversary who haven’t come for a while,” Meronek said.

“We’re still busy,” Heskin said. And they plan to be, Meronek said, for a long time to come.

Complete contest information, including rules and entry forms, can be found online at