Amber Alexander | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Community Builders

Days after Amber Alexander became library director at Presque Isle District Library (PIDL), she was given a highly unusual task for a library: stewardship of the cherished 1937 Rogers City Theater, donated by a community member to prevent its closing. Undaunted, Alexander jumped in, hired a manager for the 280-seat venue, navigated tax laws, and facilitated a diversity of programs, from first-run films, speakers on local history, and authors’ presentations to arts and cultural programming through the Michigan Arts and Humanities Touring Directory.

Amber Alexander

CURRENT POSITION

Library Director, Presque Isle District Library, Rogers City, MI

DEGREE

MLIS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2014

FOLLOW

Amber Alexander, PresqueIsle DistrictLibrary, Rogers City Theater (Facebook); pidl.org; rogerscitytheater.com; Presqueisledistrictlibrary (Instagram)

Photo by Jeffrey Hopp

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Dramatic Results

Days after Amber Alexander became library director at Presque Isle District Library (PIDL), she was given a highly unusual task for a library: stewardship of the cherished 1937 Rogers City Theater, donated by a community member to prevent its closing. Undaunted, Alexander jumped in, hired a manager for the 280-seat venue, navigated tax laws, and facilitated a diversity of programs, from first-run films, speakers on local history, and authors’ presentations to arts and cultural programming through the Michigan Arts and Humanities Touring Directory. The theater hosts both the Manhattan Short Film and Thunder Bay International Film festivals and held the first TEDx Talk as an official licensed site in northeast Michigan, with speakers filmed and viewed globally through TED.com.

PIDL also brings in live international musical entertainment through local grants and collaborates with the Rogers City Chamber of Commerce to present more than 250 family movies per year. A separate nonprofit group, the Rogers City Community Theatre, rents space to store props and produces six plays and musicals annually. High school students run concessions during events, expanding the limited job market for teens.

Rather than closing owing to lack of funding, the theater, under Alexander’s direction, is now a bustling space—the only theater in Presque Isle County and one of two in the state owned by libraries. The theater is the official sixth branch of PIDL, in an underserved region within a town of 2,500 now recognized for its arts and cultural programming. It’s a testament to Alexander’s belief that “sometimes, you have to take a risk to move forward.”

 

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