Libraries – specifically, district libraries – were in the spotlight Thursday evening (January 24th) during the first ‘Community Development Meeting’ (CDM) of the New Year, a session hosted by Three Rivers City Manager Joe Bippus and held in the Commission Room at City Hall.
The gathering was the latest in a series of such meetings launched by former Mayor Ken Baker in April of 2011 to explore ways in which Three Rivers area governmental units can work together to improve the delivery of services and save money.
In addition to Bippus, Thursday’s meeting was attended by Fabius Township Supervisor John Kroggel, Lockport Township Supervisor Ray Signorello, and Park Township Supervisor Joe Eichorn.
The previous CDM, held prior to the holidays, included attention to the subject of libraries and yielded interest in looking at the pros and cons of a district library. Toward that end, Bippus invited Richard Butler, Jr., an attorney with Bloom Sluggett Morgan, P.C. in Grand Rapids, as the featured guest for Thursday’s meeting. In opening his presentation, Butler explained that he started representing libraries about 30 years ago in his capacity as an attorney for Kent County at a time when the Kent County Library was interested in forming a district library. He said there were “a lot of holes” in the old 1955 statute that was in place at that time, a situation that led to a process in which he was involved to make legislative changes. The result was the District Library Establishment Act (DLEA) of 1989 which now governs the creation and operation of district libraries in Michigan. Butler indicated that, once the new law was in effect, it led to a lot of libraries throughout the state becoming district libraries. (Richard Butler audio clip – 1:23)
Butler reviewed a six-page handout regarding the subject of district libraries, a document with key points about the District Library Establishment Act, the procedure for forming a district library, district library agreement provisions, and the advantages of a district library. Along the way, he interacted with meeting attendees and responded to a variety of questions.
The conversation revealed interest in learning more about the subject and indications that a change to a district library might be a bit more of a challenge for Lockport and Park townships since both have affiliations with other libraries in addition to the Three Rivers Public Library – Lockport with the Nottawa Township Library and Park with libraries in Mendon and Vicksburg – where Fabius Township is linked only to the library in Three Rivers.
The end point of the discussion was a consensus to continue exploring the district library topic further and an indication from Bippus that he would seek financial information to share with the group during the next CDM on February 28th. (Joe Bippus audio clip – :13)
For additional insights on Thursday’s CDM, click on the following link to hear a post-meeting interview with City Manager Joe Bippus, recorded by Bruce Snook of the River Country Journal: Joe Bippus interview (1:43)
To view the handout used by Richard Butler during his presentation, click on the link that follows: The District Library Establishment Act: Formation of a New District Library.