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March 20 • 06:16 PM
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State looks to cut library services


To the Editor:

As the nation grapples with tough economic times, Americans are increasingly turning to their local libraries to take advantage of their publically funded programs and services: free access to books, computers, homework and job assistance help, accurate financial information, adult education courses, DVDs, CDs and much more. The American Library Association has tracked the surge in use at public libraries as the economy has sputtered. The irony is that as more people in Michigan use libraries, the services and resources available to them are in jeopardy because of decisions such as Governor Jennifer Granholm's proposed Executive Order discussed below.

In July Governor Granholm announced in an Executive Order that on October 1, 2009, all services provided by the Library of Michigan (LOM) would be transferred to the Department of Education. Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which include the delivery of reading materials adapted to meet special needs, will be transferred to the Michigan Commission for the Blind. In addition, the order stipulates the following occur:

•End circulation of various collections and possibly disband or transfer those collections to other institutions, including genealogy materials, law collection materials and federal documents;

•End its participation in MelCat , a state-wide interlibrary loan program; and

•Create a new center in Lansing called the Michigan Center for Innovation and Reinvention, to promote the understanding of state history and the cultural diversity of Michigan citizens; educate children and adults in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and enhance the competitiveness of Michigan citizens in the world economy through research and education.

Also at stake is the Michigan Electronic Library (www.mel.org) that provides all citizens in the State of Michigan access to comprehensive resources in electronic format.

The purpose of this executive order is to reduce expenditures while at the same time maintaining the core mission of the LOM: promoting, advocating and consistently working to achieve the highest level of library service to the State of Michigan, its government, its libraries and its residents.

Librarians throughout the state are very concerned with the executive order and the establishment of the Michigan Center for Innovation and Reinvention. There are many unanswered questions about how seamlessly these functions will transfer over and the associated costs to do so. The information provided so far is extremely vague making it hard to determine what impact these changes will have on Michigan citizens or what the final outcome will look or operate like. No further details have been forthcoming from the Governor's Office on how these changes will be implemented. No specific information on timelines for implementation, cost-savings and benefits of the executive order have been presented. If you are also concerned and need more information about this executive order, please contact your State Representative or Senator.

Senator Jud Gilbert, P.O. Box 3006, Lansing, MI 48909-7536 877-445-2378 senjgilbert@senate.michigan.gov

Representative Phil Pavlov, S-1185 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48933 (517)373-1790 phillippavlov@house.mi.gov

Representative John Espinoza (Burtchville, Ft. Gratiot, Port Huron city), S-1187 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909-7536 (517)373-0835 johnespinoza@house.mi.gov

Representative Jennifer Haase (Columbus, Ira, Kimball, Wales) N-0796 House Office Building, PO Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909-7514 866-347-8032 JenniferHaase@house.mi.gov

Jim Warwick, Allison Arnold, Angela Klocek - St. Clair County Library System; Cindy Rourke, Jane Lewandoski, Judy Wager - St. Clair County Community College; Therese Miller - Baker College
August 12, 2009

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