April 20, 2018

William Harmer | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Marketers

William Harmer, Chelsea District Library, MIBuzz Master

In 2005, teen services librarian at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, MI, William Harmer became nationally known for the buzz he created with his Rock’n’Roll Library Tour. A former DJ, Harmer convinced the Detroit-based band The High Strung to take its act to Michigan public libraries and then to over 200 libraries in 48 states.

Now, as head of adult services at Chelsea District Library (CDL), he’s generating buzz around such programs as a senior “lock-in” and “A Day in the Life of Chelsea,” in which seniors document their town using library-provided disposable cameras. Chelsea Senior Center director Tina Patterson says, “Some days I feel we need a leash or a butterfly net to keep up with him.”

Harmer helped CDL earn LJ’s 2008 Best Small Library in America Award with his aggressive outreach to community organizations, including a grant for a six-year local oral history initiative.

Harmer came late to librarianship, which means, he says, “I didn’t have any previous conceptions, so there were consequently no boundaries.”

But he does more than just push boundaries. Former CDL librarian Elizabeth Goldman says that “once his ideas come—and they do with startling frequency—he not only brings them to fruition but shares them.” In fact, he’s starting a business called Black River Group, which combines consulting and program planning for libraries.

Buzz is contagious. Stand next to Harmer, and you’re likely to catch it.


Chelsea District Library, MI

POSITION Head of Adult Services

DEGREE MLIS, Wayne State University, 2000

BY NIGHT “Wannabe musician”

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