Spotlight on Success: Houghton Lake Public Library

Dave Christian and Sarah Maddox

by Donna J. Alward, Library Director, Houghton Lake Public Library

SUMMER SALSA CHALLENGE! - Last year, instead of flowers, our volunteer gardeners planted tomatoes, cilantro, parsely, onions, and red and green peppers in the library's front planter. Bobby Flay was not able to participate but we planned a salsa throwdown, which actually had to be delayed to September (because of cold weather had to plant late and the veggies weren't ripe).

Dave Christian, Manager at R & J's Best Choice Marketplace Deli, who is known for his own personal recipe, Dave's Sweet Creeper Heat, went tomato-to-tomato with the library's “Old-Fashioned Summer Reading Salsa.” Youth Services Librarian, Sarah Maddox, a salsa newbie who is not afraid of anything, did the library proud with her version of a fresh, milder sauce made with veggies right out of the library's garden. The library smelled divine!

Got lots of attention and favorable comments during the summer and people were good about watching (not picking) as the garden grew.

Patrons were then invited to treat their taste buds to the fruits (botanically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit) of our labor and score each of the salsas.  We had loads of chips and people really enjoyed it.  Dave won but it was tasty, unexpected way to engage all ages!

Beyond regular visiting patrons, some of our gardeners came by to see how the produce tasted. Plus our schools release early on Wednesdays and lots of kids showed up too!  We started a Minecraft session in response to the early release decision because we are located just across the parking lot from the middle school. Many kids hang out from 1:15 til 5 or 6pm.  Minecraft has been well received.

We tied the Summer Salsa Challenge into the science theme, it didn't cost much, was appropriate for all ages and who doesn't enjoy good free food!

Rainy_day_does_not_stop_Minecraft     Minecraft_girl_and_boys

Spotlight on Success is a new series of member generated content sharing progressive library programs to inspire ideas and spark exchange among MLA members. If you would like to suggest a program to spotlight, please contact Laura Covey, Director of Membership, Communications and Marketing at or (517) 394-2774, ext. 225.

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