Feb 262010

Today’s Lansing State Journal has an article on the possible future of the Library of Michigan. So things still aren’t looking good and it seems that all of least year’s efforts – Hands Around the Library and MLA Rally at the Library not to mention all the letters, lobbying by individuals that went on have ended up with about a zero net effect on all of this – yes Governor Granholm did acknowledge the “pressure” when she amended her Executive Order, but what’s being talked about now seems to be worse than was imagined last Summer.

So given the grimness and probable inevitability of all of this, at least I’m somewhat cheered by this part of that article:

Robertson said the library still has yet to identify an agency or university willing to take on its federal depository and genealogy collections. Under one scenario, she said, the genealogical holdings could stay in the library if an interested group agreed to lease space there and staff the area.

So Ms. Nancy Robertson:

  1. How much $$$$$ would it take to make this happen for a year?
  2. When does it have to happen by before it’s too late and stuff starts leaving the building?
  3. When better times come back would the State take it back over?
  4. Would there be some kind of commitment from Ms Robertson about an ongoing nature to this until 3 happens – i.e. don’t change your mind after only a month or 2.
  5. Would credit for the $$$$$ saved by NOT moving it all out be applied to the amount required in answer to question 1? After all whatever happens to change the status quo of the collection isn’t going to be done for nothing, so someone has to be paying for that.
  6. How much $$$$$ would it take to make this happen for a year?

I’m thinking $1,000,000 ought to be more than enough – probably far more than enough.

That’s 20 lots of $50,000 or 50 lots of $20,000 or 100 lots of $10,000. Either way there have to be that many foundations/groups/people/trusts/organisations/societies/etc in the State of Michigan, and maybe some outside the state of Michigan who could come up with this without too much trouble.

It could be channelled through the Libraray of Michigan Foundation, who have an impressive “Board of Donors” on the 2nd floor in the Library. While it might seem harsh to ask them for more, many of them are businesses who surely realise the sense in not letting their current investments be thrown away.

7,000 people signed a petition about this last year – if they each put in $3 that would be one lot of $20,000 covered already.

Societies in the state of Michigan could come up with some of these chunks, either from their coffers or by fund raising within their communities.

But clearly the time to act is now, so Michigan Genealogical Council – a plan is needed that can be channelled down to the member societies, and through the member societies to their members for the grass roots effort, while in parallel seeking help from the Library of Michigan Foundation and their generous donors of the past for a large part of what would be needed to make this happen.

Anything is better than boxing this up and sending it in bits and pieces to whoever might want to (presumably after paying something for it??) take it, or heavens forbid out of the state to Fort Wayne. (Which I kind of think of as being similar to the Library of Congress deciding they can’t handle all that they’ve got that isn’t directly related to US History, and sending that to Mexico or Canada).

Down the road, when times are better the State Government need to snap out of it and realise just what a value this great building and its current contents provide for today and the future for what in the overall scheme of the state budget is truly a bargain!!

Yesterday I wore my “Protect Michigan’s Libraries” tee-shirt to the Library of Michigan. During the afternoon the people who make up the Board of the Michigan Center for Innovation and Reinvention Board (MCIR) were on a walk through and one of them noticed my shirt and said to me

“Nice Shirt”.

I replied “Thanks. It means what it says. Please leave everything here the way it is now”.

“We’re getting that” says he.

Whatever that all means, but perhaps they’re cognisant of the dissatisfaction expressed last Summer, and are under pressure to not follow through on some half-baked scheme that would make that great building be anything other than what it was designed and built to be. And it’s hard to imagine that anything they come up with for changes to that building and its function will cost less than the amount that hopefully Ms Nancy Robertson might provide in answer to Question 1 above.

Remember what it says at the top – “Roger’s Ramblings” 🙂

 Posted by at 1:07 pm

  2 Responses to “Funding the Genealogy Collections at the Library of Michigan”


    I don’t know much, but would bet it would cost much less to fund the collection in place for a year or two that it would to move it. I am poised for whatever action whatever leader says I should take~!


    You are absolutely right, Roger. We all sit around wringing our hands and waiting for someone to take control of the situation. I think we all know at least a dozen people who would donate to save this great library. I am reminded of the loss of the beautiful City and County buildings in Grand Rapids in the 1960s. NOW people ask, “Why didn’t we do something?” We need leadership.

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