For nearly 85 years the people of our community have invested in their library, and the library has returned that investment many times over in educational resources, programs, classes, and services that have improved the quality of life in the Brandon community.
Today, that long-term, bountiful investment is in jeopardy.
For the child just beginning to discover the wonder of reading; for the teen striving to make meaningful life choices; for the unemployed adult struggling to re-enter the workforce; for the retired senior desperate to use and understand computers and the Internet so she can share e-mail with her out-of-town grandchildren, there is no substitute for the public library.
In October of 2009, the Michigan legislature approved the 2010 budget. That budget is bare bones for public libraries and library cooperatives. On October 12, 2009, Governor Granholm signed into law a 40% cut to Michigan libraries and cooperatives. That is a 4 million dollar loss in state aid in 2010 alone, which continues a trend that began more than a decade ago and has continued yearly.
Beyond state aid, the Brandon Township Public Library is funded primarily through a dedicated millage tax on Brandon Township’s real property. As property values drop tax based revenue decreases. This has been the case at the Library for fiscal years 2008-2010, and this trend is predicted by analysts to linger at least into 2012.
As faithful stewards of a public trust, the Library Board of Trustees and the Director have devised a leaner budget for 2010 with the least compromises possible to public service. To do otherwise would represent a disservice to the people of Brandon Township who rely on the Library for a wide range of important educational and informational resources, programs and services. To date, strategic direction for reducing operating expenditures have been kept “behind the scenes” and mostly remain transparent to the user. If reductions in state aid and tax revenue collections continue, the Library will need to manage change in a manner that will be more directly felt by the public..
The public library is not a luxury. It is a necessity! Since the recession year of 2007, circulation of library materials in Brandon Township has increased 21%. Over the same period, library computer use has soared 48%. This year, the Library expects to circulate more than 130,000 items, welcome and serve more than 100,000 visitors and provide more than 35,000 computer use sessions.
What other publicly supported institution can claim such a record of public service and success?
We urge all Brandon Township residents and other supporters of the Library to register their complaints over present and proposed cuts to public library and cooperative budgets. We must direct our elected officials at the State and Federal level to do whatever it takes to sustain our public libraries and to seek long-term solutions to these recurring threats.
The Director and Library Board members have met with Senator Deb Cherry and Representative Jim Marleau and initiated a written and ongoing advocacy campaign with both. We will continue to advocate with elected officials at State and Federal levels to explore strategies to address this current challenge, and we urge all of you to do so as well by clicking on elected officials names below. You will immediately have the opportunity to address your concerns to each official through their e-mail systems. Together we can find meaningful, lasting solutions.
The Library Board and Director welcome any opportunity to discuss this vitally important issue with public officials, citizens and constituent groups.