Monday, July 27, 2009

Sad Days for the Library of Michigan

Let me start off by saying that it breaks my heart to think of the wonderful genealogy collections at the Library of Michigan being broken up into parts and sold or distributed to other institutions. It has taken many years and lots of tax payers' dollars (not to mention the tremendous efforts of dedicated employees and volunteers) to amass this collection that we genealogists in Michigan value tremendously and are darn proud of.

The library building is wonderful, the holdings are wonderful, and the staff is wonderful.

Where would we genealogists be without it all? I haven't a clue.

Having said that, our state is in the position of having to make drastic budget cuts to essential services. Reality check time. We just don't have the money to support non-essential services in the way we have in the past. I've been asking myself for some time now how we can continue to operate the state supported cultural programs while we eliminate Michigan State Police officers and close posts.

It's easy to wink and say we could do with one less State Police officer when we see them in the median of the interstate with their radar guns in action. But if you've ever been stranded on an icy freeway or caught in a 20-car pileup, you know what essential services they provide. And the state crime lab is waaay behind on their cases, especially since the crime lab in Detroit was shut down. And what about budget cuts for state prisons? Does anyone think we should shut more down and have more felons on the streets? Not me.

Please don't brand me as a traitor here. What I said in the beginning is truly what I feel. But I also know that we can't keep doing business as usual here in Michigan. We simply can't afford it. Personally, my safety is a higher concern for me than my hobby. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to turn my back on my hobby altogether.

There is a group of concerned genealogists here in Michigan who is planning an assembly on the steps of the State Capitol followed by a walk to the Library of Michigan where they will hold hands encircling the library in a show of support. The date is August 5th, 2009, time 9:45am. I urge you to be there to show your concern for the Library of Michigan. I'm going to try my best to be there to show my support.

I seriously doubt if the Library as we know it with all it's wonderful collections can be spared the chopping block given the current economic situation here in Michigan. And I don't necessarily think it should. But it is my most fervent hope that those in a position to determine the outcome of this situation can find a way to keep the collections together as they are now. I don't know what kinds of options there might be for this to occur but I sincerely hope they are seriously considered and prioritized. I also think it is essential that the collections continue to be made available to the public for free as they are now. That makes the task all the more difficult. But, we have some very intelligent and talented individuals working on this at the state level and I'm sure they'd like to feel some support from their constituents. I say we show them that we care about the resources in our library and we don't want them to be redistributed.

If you can't be at the Capitol on August 5th, please show your concern and support by contacting Michigan legislators. You can find the House Reps here and the Senators here.

For more details about the August 5th assembly, see the Michigan Genealogical Council web site.

Please try to get the word out to as many people as you can. Thank you!