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Monday, August 4, 2014

Vote Yes on the Library Renewal.

A Yes vote  is a vote for a reasonable cost, widely used educational, and entertainment solution for which there really is no other alternative.

Four years ago  in 2010 that was not the case. The millage then requested was  $500,000 a year. It was the same annual amount as the 2009 Township Library  millage  which failed. 

The annual amount asked for the Birmingham Baldwin Library is less than half that  and has been since our current contract was negotiated in 2011. Tomorrow residents will vote to extend that same  reasonable rate to November of 2020. This is not a new tax increase but a contract renewal at the same dollar amount.

For whatever reason the Township Library refused to discuss usage figures of City of Bloomfield Hills residents with our  City commission.This was a critical factor in the 2003 break up when the library raised it's rates dramatically and the City could see no justification for the increase.

The Baldwin Library has never hesitated  from providing usage figures and the numbers are active not passive. To be a user you must not only obtain a card which requires an in person visit to the Birmingham Library but you must also  check out  books. 

The usage figures are the highest ever recorded  for our City. That is because the Township never gave us any, and the Troy Library used in the years 2003 through 2011 as an alternative, usually  had less than 100 users.

 Since November of 2011 (two years and eight months ago). The Baldwin Library has issued  1070 library cards to City residents. 

A third of the City's 1500 households  have cards. The average number of books checked per visit out  is much higher than the "five" reported by the library. That's because Libraries traditionally divide total items checked out by the  population. Our 1070 card holders is not our 3500 person population. The actual number  of average check outs is probably closer to double digits especially  with the variety of items available  like  kids books, audio books, cds, dvds, and traditional books.

The above usage figures do not count borrowing at our  City Hall at 45 East Long Lake Rd. There DVDs and books popular in the last six months can be taken out and returned on the honor system. No library card is required. Also  not counted are 

electronic books,  which are directly downloaded to to one's computer and later electronically withdrawn on the due date.

Usage figures continue to grow. The Library has been good at promoting itself in our town. Our City Government has been less dedicated to the task.

A  major usage breakthrough was accomplished by the efforts of Baldwin Library Director Doug Koschick and Bloomfield Hills School Superintendent Jim Glass. That was the routing of homework  and study assignments from the Bloomfield Hills School District through the Baldwin Library for our students. In the bad old day such school work simply  went to the Township Library which our students were not allowed to use.

Alternatives if Any:

  In 2010 the year of  the City's last Library millage defeat there were plenty of other alternatives.
There were  Borders Book stores which are  now gone. There was Barnes Noble now moved to Orchard Lake Road or John R. There were video stores like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster which are now gone. In 2010's not so distant past there was something called Talking Book World stores which are now gone. In 2010's future was  Red Box which was credit card Kiosks  renting  first run DVDs for one dollar a night. Initially they popped up in supermarkets like mushrooms after the rain. Now It has been reported that they are all closing in favor of on line distribution.

In 2010 my wife and I did not have high speed internet. Now we spend countless vacation hours at the Public Libraries up north and points elsewhere checking our E-mail.

Some say the the digital age will make libraries obsolete.  I believe the library brings the digital age to all of us at  affordable prices and thus serves as the community's  conduit to the future.

The contract we approve Today will last unto  November of 2020. At the end of those six years I believe that communications by the spoken word and the written word will still be with us. A repository of such communications will still be of value and the Baldwin Library will still  be providing it.

I am impressed that our community and their Library work so well together. It is a relationship unprecedented in our City's history with other libraries. Four members of our City, including the current 
President serve on the Friend's of the Baldwin Library Board. The Director of the Library and  three  Library Board members who gain office by being elected at large by the City of Birmingham have made themselves available during the renewal process to answer questions for our residents. 

We seem to have a partnership that goes beyond shared services and into the realm of friendship which is very worthy of a "Yes Vote"

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