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8. Peter White Public Library

Press Contact: Pamela R. Christensen, 906-226-4303

Web Site:

Jane Ryan, Community Member; Pamela R. Christensen, Director; and Mrs. Obama.
Pictured: Jane Ryan, Community Member; Pamela R. Christensen, Director; and Mrs. Obama. Click image to access high-resolution version.

Peter White Public Library is a learning hub for Marquette’s residents and boasts circulation and attendance figures that are three times higher than other libraries its size in Michigan.

Through strategic partnerships and fundraising, the library provides programs to promote acceptance and engage people from all walks of life. The library’s mission is to inform the community, and it does not retreat from sensitive topics. For example, Fine Line, a collection of photographer Michael Nye’s powerful black-and-white portraits of people affected by mental illness was on display along with first-person narratives describing the impact of mental illness. Response was overwhelming, inspiring the library to create a three-month mental health series attracting health organizations as partners across Marquette.

The library is also a huge advocate for the arts, strategically partnering with its building-mate, the City of Marquette Arts and Culture Center, to sponsor youth theater, festivals, and battle-of-the-bands shows. The creativity of Marquette’s youth is encouraged while providing entertainment to the community.

U.S. Senator Carl Levin (MI) "For all that it has done to bring the world to Marquette, the Peter White Library is deserving of this great award, giving it the recognition as one of the nation’s top public libraries that it has earned. Marquette is fortunate to have this public library leader right in its own downtown, and it is clear from the library’s data that residents are taking full advantage of this great resource. I applaud the library for its achievement and thank it for its service to the community."

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) "The Peter White Public Library of Marquette is a jewel of the community and truly merits the recognition of the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.The library not only serves the City of Marquette but also nine surrounding townships, providing books for over 36,000 people.Their educational and musical programs create a venue where families can continue to enjoy the arts, and I am pleased that this award recognizes all of their hard-earned efforts."

U.S. Representative Bart Stupak (MI-01) "Peter White Public Library is an important part of the community in Marquette, and I am pleased to see that it is being awarded a National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Over the years, the Peter White Public Library has offered an array of innovative programs designed to educate, inform and entertain northern Michigan families. This prestigious award honors the professionalism and dedication of the library’s incredible staff who work so hard to see that this vital resource continues to offer quality services. I look forward to seeing Peter White Public Library continue to play an integral role in the community for years to come."

Community MemberJane Ryan
Mental health advocate gains library support for programming

Jane Ryan has been active in the Marquette community since moving to the Upper Peninsula 42 years ago. Her role as the Chapter Chairperson of the Marquette/Alger chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) was pivotal in the success of the Peter White Public Library’s Your Mind Matters programming held in 2009 and 2010. These programs resulted in a Michigan Chapter of NAMI award for the Peter White Public Library for Outstanding Educational Program/Institution in 2009.

Jane’s advocacy for people with mental illnesses, creativity and enthusiasm were an encouragement to staff as they developed three months of programming focused on mental health issues. And Jane credits the staff for their support and generating a vital community conversation on mental health.

Jane is a retired teacher with experience in alternative high school and middle school education. She is a strong supporter of public library and school partnership and always encouraged her students to use library resources for career planning and to enhance classroom learning. She remains an avid user of the library.