A view from inside the Hazel Park District Library Sept. 13. The library is preparing to add three soundproof office spaces, paid for by a $100,000 grant from the state.

A view from inside the Hazel Park District Library Sept. 13. The library is preparing to add three soundproof office spaces, paid for by a $100,000 grant from the state.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Soundproof office pods coming to Hazel Park District Library

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published September 16, 2023


HAZEL PARK — The library in Hazel Park plans to install soundproof office pods that will be perfect for private talks, studies, projects, podcasting, or even practicing a musical instrument.

Two pods will be installed on the first floor of the library, located at 123 E. Nine Mile Road, while a third will be placed in the teen area on the second floor. Each will have a small table for up to four people, and each will have its own cooling system, electric outlets and USB connections.

At least two pods will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Installation is expected to take place by the end of the year, or early next year.

The pods are made possible by a $100,000 grant from the state, secured by state Rep. Mike McFall, D-Hazel Park, representing District 8. Barbara Winter, a trustee on the library board, lobbied for them once the idea was brought to her by Randy Ernst-Meyer, the adult and teen librarian.

“I’m really happy that after all this time, we found a way to get the money,” Ernst-Meyer said. “I’m really excited for these. They will be a fantastic addition to the library, and for our community.”

The pods are more practical than new construction, taking up less space and costing far less, although they would still be too expensive without the grant.

Fortunately for the library, when the state budget was approved for the new fiscal year that begins next month, a special appropriation of $100,000 was made for the pods. In the state budget, the items are described as “learning pods.”

“I think that Randy’s enthusiasm and determination were contagious enough to get us a $100,000 grant,” said Corrine Stocker, the library director, in an email.

She described the many ways that the pods can be used. For example, staff and patrons can go there for private conversations about sensitive matters. Patrons who need an even quieter space can use the pods to study or work. Since the pods are soundproof both inside and out, users can watch videos in them, make phone calls or practice instruments.

The pods are also well suited for podcasting. The library’s building monitor, Aaron Prunkard, records a podcast, “Ex Libris,” discussing events at the library. He plans to use the pods to interview visiting authors and performers for library programs. Stocker said that everyone will be free to record their own podcasts, as well.

She also anticipates the pods being used by city employees.

“We are literally right next door to the 43rd District Court, which is housed in City Hall. Currently, there are not many spaces in City Hall for an attorney to have a private conversation with their client. These pods would give them the space that they need,” Stocker said.

Ernst-Meyer said the pods help smaller libraries make better use of limited space. He sees uses for local business meetings, caseworkers helping clients, tutors giving lessons and more.

“Many libraries in urban environments are limited with the space they can move or build into, and we’re a public library, limited in our money. These office pods mean we can get a private room for 1% of what it would cost to build new — it’s crazy less expensive — and not only that, it doesn’t take up much space,” Ernst-Meyer said.

Amy Beem, the children’s librarian, added, “Randy has been trying to get this to happen for a long time now, so we’re super proud of him to have this opportunity. I think it’s really going to enhance this library. We get quite a few patrons who come in asking if we have study rooms, and now we can finally say that we do.”