Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More metro Detroit library news for May 2011

While I was celebrating some good news for Troy's library in yesterday's post, other libraries were making less auspicious headlines. From the Detroit Free Press comes the following story.

Macomb Co. libraries take a hit in plan
May 17, 2011
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel gave his organization plan to county commissioners Monday, detailing $2.5 million in cuts annually, including more than $900,000 to the county library.
As I wrote, not a good headline. Since the devil is in the details, let's take a close-up look at Old Scratch.
Hackel's plan calls for transferring the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which employs four people, to the Clinton-Macomb District Library, saving the county nearly $200,000 a year.
At least that's not closing a library (and this particular facility would be a very bad one to close), just having someone else take care of it. Still, I wonder what the Clinton-Macomb District Library thinks of this and what it will do to their budget. That's something for a follow-up post.

What else?
It also calls for phasing out, by the end of the year, the Reference and Research Center, which provides reference books, magazines, newspapers and online databases, saving the county $716,000.
That's not good. This closes off a major source for research in the state's third most populous county. Unfortunately, I don't know of any constituencies outside of librarians and scholars who would rally to keep it open.

Speaking of programs who have advocates in the community, here's one that survived the budget axe.
Nearly $34,000 to Macomb Literacy Partners would continue in the plan, but a more suitable location for the program would be explored.
Basic literacy has a big constituency, even if it's only parents with young children, so I'm not surprised this program will continue. Besides, it constitutes only a small portion of the budget.
There are all kinds of other budget-saving and austerity measures in the revised budget, so I recommend you read the article at the link. However, I want to point out one set in particular that has nothing to do with libraries, but everything to do with sustainability, before I move on.An additional $100,000 in savings would come from eliminating seven of the county's 38 boards, including the Water Quality Board, Historical Commission and county Economic Development Corp.

However, Hackel said he is considering advisory councils for some of the eliminated boards, such as water quality, a big issue for him and the commissioners.
[County Commission Chairwoman Kathy] Vosburg said she doesn't believe anyone will see a group being the watchdog for water quality going away, "and the board will make sure that function of being that watchdog will not go away."
The bad news is that local governance for sustainbility--water quality, historical commission, and economic development (the sustainability triad, environment, society, and economy, strikes again!)--has been demoted. The good news is that the really important ones will continue in less expensive forms.

Now, some good library news from earlier this month that I missed.

Royal Oak Review via C&G News: Voters approve operating millage for Clawson library
By Jeremy Carroll
May 3, 2011
Voters approved a 0.33-mill tax increase to fund operations at Blair Memorial Library and to allow the facility to be fully self-sufficient.

The vote came two years after voters passed a 0.5-mill increase to expand the building, which opened again in 2010 after a period of reconstruction.
A total of 54.8 percent of the 2,425 voters approved the measure during the May 3 election.
The 0.33-mill request will raise just over $100,000, the amount the library would have needed from the city to remain open the minimum number of hours to receive state aid.
A total of 25.6 percent of registered voters in the city cast their ballot in the election, higher than Clerk Machele Kukuk expected.
That's all good news, and may it foreshadow an equally good result in neighboring Troy this coming August.


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