Library of Michigan–The Threat Continues

Library of Michigan Plan from MDE 12 Feb 2010

The Michigan Genealogical Council has provided the following status report:

February 21, 2010

Dear Fellow Genealogists:

As you may be aware, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) issued a letter on Friday, February 12, 2010, regarding the status of the Library of Michigan and it’s various collections.

On Wednesday, February 17, 2010, I met with Michigan‘s State Librarian, Nancy Robertson.  The reality is grim.  The library is facing a 23 percent cut in funding.  This cut has forced MDE to examine what collections and services the library provides, and what the core functions of a state library are as stated in Michigan law.  Based on that, MDE has determined what collections/services currently housed in the library fit the identified core services and which do not.  It was a difficult and painful choice for them to make.  Unfortunately, it was decided that while the non-Michigan genealogical collection and the Federal Documents collection are valuable, they do not fit into the core functions of a state library, nor is it mentioned in the state’s constitution that the state must provide those collections/services.  The Library is also facing a 13-person reduction in staff.  They will have gone from 100 staff at its height, to 30 as of October 1, 2010.

Ms. Robertson also informed me that the library will become a non-circulating library.  This means that they no longer need the second copy of items from the Michigan collection.  Therefore, the second copies will go with the Genealogical collection.  The items that do remain in the library’s possession will be consolidated to the 4th and 5th floors.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) has invited Council to send a representative to the meetings of the Michigan Center for Innovation and Reinvention Board (MCIR) as an observer, and we have been informed that we will be allowed to have limited time for comment.  Dr. Frank Boles, Director of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University, a respected professional in the librarian and historical communities, has agreed to represent Council and the genealogy community as our spokesperson.

During times of crises, a process needs to be followed.  The first step is information gathering, the second is evaluation, the third is negotiations, and the fourth is action.  The MGC is currently working on gathering and evaluating information.  While we understand that the community is outraged, we ask that everyone remain calm and let our spokesperson, Dr. Frank Boles communicate with the MCIR Board that is involved in the potential uses of the Historical Center.

Many alternative scenarios have been mentioned; however, MGC’s goals are that the collections remain under one roof and under state control.   If you have any ideas or suggestions, please contact MGC at

Thank you for your patience during this time of turmoil.  We will continue to keep you updated as events unfold.


Cynthia Grostick, President
Michigan Genealogical Council

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Library of Michigan—RPAC Petition Drive Closes

The RPAC petition drive in support of the library of Michigan garnered nearly 7000 signatures before we closed it on the 1st of October. We may yet arrange a brief ceremony to deliver a printed version of the petition to the Governor’s office, even though her representatives have been made aware of its progress and had access to the online version for some time. Thoughtful and impassioned comments from signers may be reviewed at

In addressing a $2 Billion deficit in the Michigan budget, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm issued an executive order in July which would abolish the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Executive Order 2009-36. Among the proposals then on the table was one that contemplated that the collections of the Library of Michigan would be scattered and the building built and designed to house the state library would be renovated to house a new function.

To her credit, the Governor has acknowledged the value of these collections. Subsequent directives and executive orders (Executive Directive No. 2009-5 & Executive Order 2009-43) have taken steps toward preserving the integrity of these treasured records in the building designed to house them for generations to come but one overwhelming issue remains.

Revenues must yet be found sufficient to fund the operations of the Library of Michigan and associated activities in that facility. This process will require agonizing decisions on the part of the governor and every member of the legislature. Although a temporary appropriations bill preserves a semblance of normal operations through the end of October, the ultimate outcome is still uncertain. Across the board, painful cuts may yet be required. Students and scholars, genealogists, historians and archivists anxiously await the results.

The latest developments can be found on the website of the Michigan Genealogical Council at

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Library of Michigan—RPAC launches petition drive

Within the genealogical community, the Library of Michigan has long been recognized as one of the premier state libraries in the country.

The cohesive Library of Michigan collection with over 180 years of Michigan history, literature and culture records and reflects the lives of not only those who remained to raise their families within the state but of millions more whose migration to other parts of the country left their footprints in the soil and records generated by their passage. Visitors come from all across the country to research at the Library of Michigan.

In addressing a $2 Billion deficit in the Michigan budget, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm issued an executive order in July which would abolish the Department of History, Arts and Libraries.  As originally proposed, the collections of the Library of Michigan would be scattered and the building built and designed to house the state library would be renovated to house a new function. 


In meetings held during the Federation of Genealogical Societies/ Arkansas Genealogical Society Annual Conference in Little Rock this past week, the Records Preservation and Access Committee representatives have initiated a petition drive in support of the Library of Michigan.  .  This is the first time we have exercised this option since 2006, something of an indicator of the seriousness with which the genealogical community views this situation.  


The RPAC petition became available for signature on Sunday, the 6th of September.  We will close the petition drive on the 1st of October, the date the governor’s order is scheduled to take effect.  The earlier one signs, the greater the impact.


Although the prospects for reversing this action are remote, we would not want it to be said that a state library can be closed without its users caring (or for other governors to think it a politically expedient thing to do.)


Genealogists from within and without Michigan are encouraged to sign the online petition found at  We then ask that you urge the members of every society of which you are a member to do likewise.


Additional background and the latest developments can be found at the web site of the Michigan Genealogical Council at: .  They may also suggest legislators to whom individual letters might be addressed at appropriate points in the legislative process.


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Michigan–Library of Michigan

The following update  has been provided by the Michigan Genealogical Council:

This is just a brief e-mail to bring everyone up to date on the events of the past few days regarding the Department of History, Arts, and Libraries (HAL), the Executive Order, the Library of Michigan, two resolutions, one originating in the Senate and the other in the House.


Wednesday, the Governor issued Executive Directive 5.  This was supposed to clarify her Executive Order of July 13.  As far as the Genealogical Collection at the Library of Michigan is concerned, this changed NOTHING.  The collection is still subject to being transferred and spread out over several different institutions.  While re-affirming interlibrary loan, this clarification does not restore interlibrary loan to the Michigan Collection or the Library of Michigan. 

Wednesday the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism recommended the passage of SB 503-527 which was a package of bills sponsored by several different senators placing the administration of HAL under the Department of State, rather than spreading it across several state departments – Education, Natural Resources, etc…  In addition, there was a Senate Concurrent Resolution 18, to disapprove of the Executive Order 2009-36 dissolving the HAL.  Each item in the bill package and the Resolution was approved by a 3 to 1 vote with one absent to be sent to the Senate for a full vote.


Thursday, the full Senate voted on the items described above, the most complete article we have come across so far is in the Detroit Free Press.  An earlier e-mail list had one vote different.  The final tally according the Free Press report and reports from the Associated Press, which has appeared on several newspaper and broadcast websites is 22 yeas, 13 nays, and 2 not voting.  Of special note, two Democratic Senators voted with the majority of the Senators to make this possible.


There is also a resolution in the House, introduced by Rep. Rick Jones – who spoke at our rally on August 5.  He has several co-sponsors from each party.  While this resolution does not carry the force of law, its passage would send the Governor a strong message of disapproval.


Thank you to all who wrote a letter, visited their legislator, sent an e-mail or made a phone call.  There is still much to be done, we still need to urge our Representatives to vote in favor of the Senate Concurrent Resolution.  We also favor the Senate Bill package that would place all of the parts of HAL under the Secretary of State, because they have all worked well together in the nine years HAL has been in existence, especially the Library and Archives, the best example being  The vote in the House of Representatives will be much more difficult than the Senate.  We still have much work to do!


Don’t forget our annual Workshop at the Library of Michigan on September 19.  The schedule and registration form is available at


Thank you again for your help, we could not have done it without you,

Tom Koselka, Corresponding Secretary

Michigan Genealogical Council

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