This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Library Historical Time Line. Part 3. The Troy Library and the City of Bloomfield Hills 2004-2011

In  2004 the City of Bloomfield Hills residents started using The Troy Library.  It was  an auspicious beginning.
That year the Troy Public Library was  ranked number one  in Michigan among libraries serving populations of 50,000 or more by Hennen's American Public Library Rating Index. Library of Michigan awards Citation of Excellence to Troy Public Library.

The arrangements  between the City and the Library were simple. There was no contract and no exclusivity. Other communities used the Troy Library as well.  The City of Bloomfield Hills however chose to reimburse it's residents who purchased a card  for either $100 or later $200 a year which afforded them full privileges at the full service library

The refund checks make participation in the Troy Library a matter of public record. On an annual basis 100 to 150 city residents purchased a card good for the whole family. This information is available on line on the City's website. You will find it  in  the City Commission Agenda Packet which is published  for each meeting and archived on line afterward. The first item in the agenda packet is a list of all monies paid by the city in the last month. Checks written to reimburse  city residents for the purchase of  Troy Library cards are  listed in chronological order with other city expenses such as vehicle repairs or office supplies. The Troy Library entries sometimes have a number of how many years the resident has participated in the program. Entries of five to eight years are not uncommon.

In a city of close to 4,000 people  participation in the Troy library usually around four  percent. Some residents found the Troy Library  inconvenient and  chose no library over one that failed  to provide maximum convenience. In the Library millage elections of 2009,and 2010 they spoke at  Town Hall meetings ,or wrote letters to the editor. Their numbers were usually less than 40 which would be one percent of the population. That left that 95% of the City didn't seem to care one way or the other.

Supporters of the current and past millage votes  believe that number will change drastically if the right library is found. Neither the Baldwin Library nor the Troy Library wishes to be put in the middle of a dogfight  between  city residents. Both are outstanding libraries  and serve the public very well. Because a contract has been agreed to by the City and the Baldwin Library waiting only on voter approval to be finalized Baldwin's benefits have been and will be extensively detailed  in this blog and elsewhere.  It is not however the only alternative and it has been fashionable among some millage supporters to position the Troy Library as something less than what it is. That at best that is misleading. At  its worse it is false.
In 2009  the Troy Public Library receives the ALA WorldBook award to fund  Information Literacy for the Job Seeker program, the only public library in the country to receive this award.

In  2010 Troy Public Library is ranked number 10 in the nation among libraries serving populations of 50,000 or more by Hennen's American Public Library Rating Index.

The current issue Downtown Birmingham Bloomfield Hills  in an endorsement editorial for the Baldwin Library millage writes the City of  "Bloomfield Hills has a had an unfortunate time maintaining and paying for library services for its residents (who ) have been without full-time library services since 2004.

The above assertion manages to pack three inaccuracies into  29 words. It implies the city is having financial difficulties. It also implies an obligation of the city to pay for library services for it's residents. It  ignores the Troy Library who the apparently in the eyes of the publication  is not a "full time" library. In today's economy, many libraries including the both the Troy and  Baldwin Libraries have had to close one day week and cut hours of operation. They are both however full service, full time libraries. To imply otherwise is not misleading. It is false.

Commissioner Michael McCready in a letter to the Eccentric Newspaper misleads. He writes that City of Bloomfield Hills "residents want full (library) membership , which includes borrowing privileges and access to to resources from home. " The first two have been provided to City residents who desired them by the Troy Library since 2004. Commissioner McCready does not define "access to resources from home," but the Troy Library does provide computer access to resources  from home as well as on line delivery and automatic return  of e-books and audio books. McCready writes that neighboring communities (he doesn't say which ones) report a 41% to 85% participation rate when given access to a full service local Library.
 No substantiation for the percentage figures are given and again the assumption is made that Troy is not a full service local library.figures.  He writes that people who move to the city  of  Bloomfield Hills expect high quality amenities.In this writer's mind that would be access to to the a library which in a seven year span ranked first in the state and later 10th in the Nation while serving populations greater than 50,000 residents.

 Residents of the City of Bloomfield Hills are fortunate to have both libraries as neighbors. If the millage passes residents will have a card which grants them full privileges at both libraries. Commissioner McCready describes this as a fiscally prudent  proposal. Since the Baldwin is based on a library millage including all  residents the costs are substantially higher than the Troy Library which sells library cards to non residents who wish to buy one.

The reasons why each library pursues the course they do are many and varied and not without legal precedent. In 2007  City resident, George Goldstone hired another local resident Robert Toohey to represent  him in a case concerning library cards and book borrowing privileges that went all  the way to the Michigan Supreme Court.

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