Southwest Detroit’s Bowen Branch Is Now Open!
By Santiago Esparza
The Detroit Public Library has reopened the Bowen Branch, restoring critical services missing the past three years due to COVID precautions.
The branch, which sits at the corner of W. Vernor and W. Grand Boulevard has received a light makeover, including the installation of air conditioning to help beat the heat while community members check out materials in English and Spanish.
Detroit Public Library Branches closed starting in 2019 due to COVID, and Bowen is among ten branches that will reopen by early next year, said DPL system spokesperson Katie Dowgiewicz.
“It has been quite the ordeal,” she said of the closures. “Neighborhoods have been missing their branches. The staff and facilities have been working really hard to reopen.”
That is great news to Southwest Detroit native Florie Maldonado-Ledesma, whose daughter begins classes at nearby Earhart Middle School in August.
“When I need to print things, I go to the library,” she said. “Kids need access to computers and the internet.”
New computers were installed to ensure visitors had safe equipment to use and COVID protocols will remain in place at the branches, including a mandate to wear masks, Dowgiewicz said.
The Bowen Branch is a community hub where a person can network for jobs, get help filling out forms and catch up on what is going on in the neighborhood.
“The community and neighborhood surrounding Bowen have been vocal in their support,” Dowgiewicz said. “They have been patiently waiting.”
During the shutdown, Maldonado-Flores said she struggled to find ways to go online for her three daughters, two of whom have since graduated high school. She relied on friends as she cut costs to deal with the pandemic and work slowdowns.
“There is only so much you can do on your phone,” she said.
Bowen will continue to offer online services such as an online book club and online journaling course. The branch also will offer in-person services such as help finding materials and activities.
“It is nice to have a combination of them both,” Dowgiewicz said. “We will have opportunities available.”
The Campbell Branch, on the other end of W. Vernor, near Lawndale, will remain in operation. There are no plans to cease services there, Dowgiewicz said.
In September, the library system will celebrate the branches’ reopening, Dowgiewitz said.
The Bowen Branch first opened in December 1912. It is one of Detroit’s oldest branches. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie donated $40,000 for the branch and the city donated the site, according to library records. Noted architect W.B. Stratton designed the building. The branch is named after Herbert Bowen, a Detroit attorney and Library Commission member.
Herbert Bowen Branch
Address: 3648 W. Vernor, near W. Grand Boulevard
Phone: (313) 481-1540
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Closed on weekends