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Guest op-ed

Library millage should be on August primary ballot

April 22, 2012

In 2010, the residents of Marquette Township overwhelmingly approved the Peter White Public Library millage renewal. Thus, I am perplexed why there appears to be reluctance on the part of some of the elected officials in Marquette Township to put the library millage renewal on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. As a parent, I find this inconceivable.

When I volunteered at the Silver Creek Elementary school library, I was overjoyed to see the anticipation and excitement in the faces of the young students. It was difficult to tell them they could check out only two books, not six. When they returned the two books at the end of the week, they could check out two more books.

Take a look at to learn what is available at this outstanding award-winning library. The regular children's library programs are Book Babies, Story Time, Story and Craft Hour, Art Adventures, and Story Tellers. Annual Events include Prime Time Family Reading Time and the Summer Reading Program. Children with library cards are not limited to check out only two books.

Teens have a special collection in an area of the library they can decorate. They serve on the Teen Advisory Board or Junior Teen Advisory Board to provide their input on the library needs specific to youth. There are book discussions and they have access to on-line resources for homework help.

There are several book club groups including Readers Theater. The many free film series include Afternoon Classics, CineArts, DocuMonday and Friday Film Club.

Among annual events are the Adult Summer Reading Program, Anatomy of a Murder Anniversary events, Great Read, Midwinter Storytelling Festival, One Book One Community events, U.P. Book Tour, Winter Wonderland Walk, and Your Mind Matters.

PWPL, the largest public library in the fifteen counties of Michigan's Upper Peninsula has a collection of 239,866 items. This includes print books, books on cassette and disc, down-loadable ebooks and audio books, encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, compact discs, videos, DVD's, local history, electronic databases and many other valuable items.

As a member of a statewide high-speed network connecting libraries, schools, community colleges, universities, state and local governments to the internet, PWPL uses this network to provide 44 public access computer workstations and 36 staff workstations.

With this technology, PWPL participates in statewide programs such as the Michigan Electronic Library and MelCat, the statewide inter-library loan and delivery service. The MEL and MelCat databases in the PWPL Career Business Resource Center can be used by patrons to hone their job skills and to seek jobs.

PWPL is also part of the UPRLC integrated library system that was established in 1987. UPRLC includes almost 90 members in the U.P. and northern lower Michigan. This inter-library loan system is cost-effective and responsive to the needs of members.

PWPL also works with the Superiorland Library Cooperative to provide services such as Mango language course, Great Lakes Digital Library down-loadable audio and ebooks, and other online services accessible from home, work or the library.

According to the American Library Association, the public libraries in many major U.S. cities continue to see circulation rise during this economic downturn. Circulation has also risen at PWPL.

The 2011 statistics reported 333,007 people visited PWPL. The PWPL staff answered 66,841 reference questions and provided 31,149 inter-library loans. Marquette Township residents alone checked out 25,988 items.

It is important to note libraries continue to transform lives, adapting to and adopting new and emerging technologies, and experimenting with innovative and transformational ideas to provide services. Libraries empower patrons by connecting us to an increasing global digital information environment.

Cutting school and library funding during an economic recession is like cutting hospitals during a plague. The ALA reported "when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed major cuts in the Chicago library system, there were hundreds of protesters of all ages, including a group of fist-pumping preschoolers."

I consider the library millage I pay the best bargain in the county. PWPL is a gift whose value is immeasurable.

"The health of a Democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens." (Alexis de Tocqueville) I encourage the private citizens in Marquette Township to urge their council to put the PWPL millage renewal on the August 7, 2012 primary ballot. Don't forget to vote on Aug. 7. and on Nov. 6.

Editor's note: Theresa Brodowski Scram is a retired medical librarian and a resident of Marquette County.



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