Books, Bites and Bids draws large crowd in support of mobile library
East Lansing residents missed the memo that visitors are supposed to be quiet at the library on Friday night.
A raucous crowd of library lovers — perhaps fueled by a bar, courtesy of the one-day liquor license granted to the library for the event — brought tons of energy to the seventh annual Books, Bites and Bids fundraiser for the East Lansing Public Library, or ELPL.
Gorgeously-wrapped gift baskets were available to be bid on at a silent auction, all donated by local businesses.
One basket featured tickets to a Lansing Lugnuts game and a Lansing Brewing Company gift card, while another was stocked with book versions of popular movies, including issues of "Black Panther" and a copy of "Ready Player One."
For Spartan sports fans, there was plenty to choose from in terms of memorabilia.
Signed footballs from former MSU and NFL running back Todd "T.J." Duckett and coach Mark Dantonio were up for grabs, as were autographed basketballs from outgoing senior forward Gavin Schilling, coach Tom Izzo and NBA and former MSU guard Bryn Forbes.
There was even a visit with the East Lansing Police K-9 unit up for grabs for the kids — or adults who still wish they were kids. In total, about 150 gift packages were donated to the library, ELPL volunteer coordinator Phyllis Thode said.
The money from the bidding will go toward an electric Mobile Pop-Up Library, said ELPL director Kristin Shelley.
The Pop-Up Library will be "kind of like a food truck, but with books and DVDs on it," Shelley said. "We've raised probably $30,000 towards it and we probably have another 40 or 50 (thousand) to go, probably closer to 50, sadly."
An enormous amount of catered food and the stocked bar kept attendees full and merry as they browsed the items up for bidding.
The event, emceed by Joe Sam of WILX News 10, also put local musicians on display.
Local residents Matt Borghi, Jj Kidder and Jim Green all played together at this event for the first time. They specialize in improvised music, Borghi said, and they played a jam session with Borghi on rhythm guitar, Kidder on synths and keyboards and Green on electric guitar.
Borghi has been performing consistently since Books, Bites and Bids' second year or so, and said he hoped this iteration of the band could continue performing at future ones. It was Kidder's third fundraiser, and Green's first.
He heaped praises on the ELPL and public libraries in general, calling them an "equal-opportunity awesome place" for communities in the tradition of Andrew Carnegie, who saw a cultural importance in maintaining libraries and donated more than $40 million to them in his lifetime.
"It's a chance to give back and get in touch with the community," Borghi said. "The public library, man, it's the cornerstone of America.
"Free public libraries are what made America great," he said, which got a solemn "Amen" out of Green and Kidder.
Attendee and 25-year library volunteer Jan Hines said the large crowd that had assembled was typical of past events.
Hines said she loved Books, Bites and Bids because it gave her a chance to connect with East Lansing residents, even more than she already does in her position with Marsha’s Friendshop, the used bookstore at the library.
"When you come, you see friends, neighbors, other library people — it's fun," Hines said.
Even with a much larger main library on campus, Hines encouraged MSU students to visit the ELPL
because of its proximity to the city's student-dominated Bailey Neighborhood.
She added that, given the city's financial struggles, supporting the public library in every way possible was crucial.
"We're in dire straits for money," Hines said. "Libraries, in order to keep them open and keep them growing, you really need to help as much as you can — time, books and money."
While organizers were pleased with the turnout and hoped it would lead to a good night of donations, perhaps nothing could top the run-up to the event three years ago, when an anonymous donor gave $1.5 million to remodel the library.
The library fully re-opened to the public on Oct. 1, 2016, after renovations, including a Maker Studio with nine 3-D printers, a more open floor plan and expanded areas for children, were completed.