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Library may join district system



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January 18, 2012 - According to the Library of Michigan, of the 101 libraries in the State of Michigan, Independence Township is one of the only two remaining under the repealed law Public Act 269.

"We technically are recognized as a legal public library, but when there are questions about governance there is no law to go back to," said Library Director Julie Meredith. "The law was repealed, it's gone."

After being "frozen in time" for 36 years under the repealed law, Meredith believes it's time to re-establish the library under a current and valid law.

Two laws exist, one is Michigan District Library Law, a set of laws designed to serve multiple communities. The second option would be to re-establish under PA 164, which is designed for a library that's one municipality.

Since Independence currently services both the township and the City of the Village of Clarkston, Meredith believes a district library would be the way to go. Not only would it allow city residents the opportunity to vote on millage rates, but it would also allow residents from both municipalities to serve on a library board.

"We have a friends of the library group and there are lots of people from both municipalities," she said. "When we educate the public when the library has a millage on the ballot, we have a number of people in the city who help promote the millage because they want the library to be funded. But they can't vote on how much goes through, which I think is unfair."

She noted the township attempted to become a district library with the City in 1992, but the two municipalities could not agree on an appropriate millage rate in time to meet the ballot language deadline.

If the library re-established under PA 164 city residents would not be able to run for library board and things would run similar to the way they currently do.

"To me it's about the governance of the library," Meredith said. "Everybody thinks it's about the money. Money is an important piece of it, but to me it's really about the oversight of the library."

Treasurer Curt Carson said he doesn't know enough about it.

"I'm definitely interested in listening to what they'd like to do, I have a lot of respect for Julie and a lot of respect for Friends of the Library," Carson said. "I love the library and want it to be highly successful."

Trustee David Lohmeier agreed.

"At this point I'm in favor of doing the analysis," he said.

Meredith plans on attending a future city council meeting to discuss the possibility of a partnership and becoming a district library.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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