JACKSON, MI — Calvin Battles was in a class at Michigan State University where the professor asked students to break the ice by writing on a card what they wanted to do in life.
Most other students were pursuing careers such as lawyers or US president, Battle said. But he wrote that he wanted to help people.
“I took that desire and found a way to do it that feels good to me,” Battles said.
That desire and the way he employs it at the Jackson District Library contributed to Battles, 37, being named one of 41 “Movers & Shakers” by Library Journal, a national trade publication for librarians. and libraries.
The 20th annual Movers & Shakers showcases promising people who are innovative, creative and making a difference in libraries. These may include unqualified librarians and library workers, publishers, vendors, entrepreneurs, and others who have an impact on the library field.
Battles, the library’s adult services coordinator, was born and raised in Jackson. His mother was a Jackson Public Schools teacher, and he spent much of his childhood at the downtown Jackson Carnegie branch of the library.
His parents were great readers, so books came easily to him. Her favorite childhood was RL Stine’s Goosebumps series.
“I was totally hooked,” he said. “I used to take my parents to Waldenbooks – they come out the third Tuesday of the month – and I’d be waiting at the door like, ‘Come on, we gotta have the new Goosebumps book,'” Battles said, with a laugh.
After graduating from Jackson High School in 2003, Battles attended Michigan State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in English. After graduating, he said he thought he wanted to become a teacher, but changed his mind when another opportunity presented itself.
His childhood neighbor was diagnosed with cancer, preventing him from completing the remainder of the year in his job as the Jackson Public Schools Librarian. He stepped in to take over and immediately fell in love with the job.
“I quickly realized that the library environment was a little better for me than a classroom,” Battles said. “The first thing that drew me to this book was the love of reading and helping people find something they love – if you find a book they love, they will become readers forever. life.”
So, Battles returned to school to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science at Wayne State University. He was hired by the Jackson District Library in 2012, first starting as a librarian at Parkside Middle School.
Battles was a key member of a 2013 project to bring the Parkside Media Center back to life.
Related: Media Center Project at Jackson’s Middle School in Parkside Receives Nearly $11,000 from Kiwanis
During the project, Battles worked with Alro Steel to bring tables to the library, hoping to add space where students could sit for lunch without being overwhelmed by the loud and busy cafeteria, it said. -he declares.
“It’s become a really beautiful space,” Battles said. “This age is a really difficult time. This library provided a safe haven for certain types of children who were going through difficult times.
Later, he went to work at the Carnegie Library, doing everything from curating a diverse reading selection to answering people’s questions.
However, he said his greatest accomplishments have come in the past year with his work to help area residents clear criminal convictions from their records.
Many residents were eligible to have their convictions overturned, but the process was daunting, JDL officials said. To help, Battles and others from a group of area nonprofits and service agencies, including United Way of Jackson County and Michigan Legal Help, determined the most effective ways to use their resources and got to work.
Initially, the group set up radiation fairs to provide resources and information. After their success, the band looked for a place to have a permanent radiation service, and the Carnegie Library was chosen. To date, more than 50 people have registered and received assistance that has enabled them to secure housing, secure promotions and qualify for jobs, officials said.
“When people come back and tell us about it, they say it had a positive impact on them,” Battles said.
Battles appreciates being given the honor of being “movers and shakers,” but he said he didn’t do it alone.
“It means a lot, but I want to make sure people who deserve equal credit get it.” Battles said.
Battles thanked JDL Director Sara Tackett and Carnegie Branch Director Ann Neff-Rohs, as well as Adult Services Librarians Christiane Evaskis-Garrett and Robyn Pierce for their work and support.
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