The Carnegie Library, located at the corner of W. Shiawassee and Capitol, opened in 1904 and still stands today on the edge of the Lansing Community College campus.
By Allie McLary
The Capital Area District Libraries system has several hidden gems located throughout its thirteen branches, with one located downstairs in the Downtown Lansing branch. From propaganda posters and stereographs to maps and photos, CADL’s Forest Parke Library & Archives holds a treasure trove of Lansing’s history.
The Forest Parke Library & Archives serves as a steward and primary repository for CADL’s Special Collections, which consist mostly of local history items. This room full of Lansing’s past, including old medicine bottles, furniture and room décor, is open for the public to explore and experience. Many items are housed on-site, some in off-site storage and others at branch locations. Most holdings are within the Ingham County Local History Collections, which is comprised of books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, ephemera, film and 3D objects.
Sifting through all of these mediums is David Votta, CADL’s local history librarian. For nine years Votta has been discovering long lost facts and stories buried in shelf after shelf of history. In fact, that’s Votta’s favorite part of the job. “When reading through old papers, letters and diaries I find stories of all kinds – some very interesting, some funny and others very tragic,” says Votta. “Often, weird things come up.”
His most popular requests are from people searching for information about their homes. Questions like who lived there and how they can find an old picture are common. “We can usually find out who lived there easily enough,” Votta shares. “And sometimes we’ll get lucky with a great old photograph.”
Since the collection is used daily, it can be a challenge to accommodate all the researchers and reference questions. Even though these resources are slowly becoming available online, Votta relies heavily on CADL’s website, blog and programs to share his knowledge of Lansing’s history with the public. Find his posts at cadl.org/blog (click on Lost Lansing in the right column). For more about the Local History Collection, visit cadl.org and click on Local History in the left column.
The Capital Area District Libraries system serves 23 municipalities in Ingham County with 13 branches and a bookmobile. Its mission is to provide access to ideas and information that support continuous learning. For more information, call 517-367-6300 or visit cadl.org
This was printed in the October 7, 2012 - October 20, 2012 Edition