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Love and Hate

The ups, downs and overall delights of parenthood
Aug 4, 2010
10:37 AM

I Love My Public Library

You may never realize how much you love your local library – until you are in danger of losing it

I Love My Public Library

Long ago, when I was desperate for positive entertainment for my toddler, I headed for our local, teeny tiny library in our teeny tiny city of Clawson. I remember the first time we walked there I told 2-year-old Patti that I was going to show her the gazebo that sits behind the building. When we gazed out from library window at the gazebo, Patti was disappointed. "Where's the ga-zebra, Mommy?"

Well, despite that inauspicious beginning, Patti loved the library. Small as it was, they had free programs for children, toys for my daughter to play with while I looked for books for myself and – let's face it – the library was a place where she could learn a love of books.

When our family grew with our second daughter, we moved three miles north to Troy, to a bigger house and a city that we knew was one of the go-to communities for families. Troy had great schools and a whole gaggle of municipal buildings to serve our family's many needs, including a much bigger, grander library. The library had so many programs for kids it took pages and pages in the city's program guide to describe them all. Not only were there story times with a snack and a craft, there were story times in other languages to give our kids a sense that there's a bigger world out there. We joined the summer reading program and took out lots of books.

It's just always been good to know that the library is there. And why shouldn't it be? Like public schools, shouldn't public libraries be a guarantee? A right?

But next year in Troy, the unthinkable is going to happen. Come July, our library is scheduled to close – along with our museum and nature center and all kinds of programs. A last-ditch effort in February to pass a millage to pay for all of our city's wonderful facilities failed miserably. There's an anti-tax, anti-government sentiment here that turned our wonderful community services into the pawns in a crude political fight. On one side was the city, vowing that because of decreased income (by way of plummeting property taxes) they would have to close all of these facilities without new sources of revenue. On the other side, the valiant anti-tax folks cried that all taxes are bad, and declared that the city was bluffing. After the millage was defeated, the city announced the library, and other facilities, would close as of July 2011. Seven librarians have already been laid off.

Who else is collateral damage? My family and the thousands of Troy families with small children and/or low incomes who need the library at a time when we can't afford to buy books all the time. The job hunters who use the library's resources to hunt for work in this terrible economy. The high school and college students who need a quiet place to study to advance their education.

I mean, can you imagine that the 12th-largest city in Michigan may soon be without a library? And because we won't be part of the cooperative library network, we won't be welcome to lend from other libraries, either?

It's crazy.

I drove through Clawson the other day, and saw that the cute little Clawson Library is under construction. That teeny tiny community passed a millage to nearly double the facility's size.

I can only hope that our citizens will be as wise in November when we have just one more chance to pass a millage to fund an independent Troy library that won't be imperiled by future political nonsense.

Then the world might go back to making sense to me.

So, how important is your library to your family?

Old to new | New to old
Aug 4, 2010 12:02 pm
 Posted by  aprilk

We LOVE LOVE the library. I could read a book a week and instead of buying them I can just borrow them. Plus, if they do not have it at my library I can have them send it to the library from one that does have it.
I take my step-daughters there at least once a week. And the kids I nanny for at least once a week. We could go every day if we had the time. There are so many wonderful things going on there and things to do while there.
Novi just expanded their library to about triple the size of the old one and we love all the wonderful new things at it, they have everything now including a regular size race car in the children's area. And Livonia has 3 different libraries all with different activities going on.

Aug 4, 2010 12:03 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Our library is indispensable. My children have gone to the library since they were infants. Now, when they learn of a new book or movie, their first question is "Can we get it at the library?" not "Can we buy it?"

Aug 4, 2010 09:35 pm
 Posted by  TroyDiverCity

It would help if everyone in the community was engaged... Troy's diversity is its strength and also its weakness. The people in Troy need to come out of their cultural self-segregation and realize how important civic engagement is!

Aug 4, 2010 09:40 pm
 Posted by  peacegirl

As a citizen of Troy for the past 11 years, I have utilized the library in millions of ways. From being a working single researching and studying my market, to when I had children, to now going back to school. I cannot BELIEVE the community of Troy is willing to lose the library because of stupid political nonsense. Wake up Troy - we must invest in this community if we want to keep our families safe, our schools successful, our neighborhood values worth anything. Investing in our library is investing in ourselves. Please think about the values of your homes if you live in a city without a basic library? I am sad at these hateful people that want to hurt us all for their own political gain. Shame on you!

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