2018-06-24 / Insight

Lapeer District Library seeks bond proposal for new building

810-452-2601 • npugliese @mihomepaper.com

Fiction Librarian Janelle Martin at the Marguerite deAngeli Library (standing) assists Lapeer resident Lanajo Chase on one of the facility’s public computers. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Fiction Librarian Janelle Martin at the Marguerite deAngeli Library (standing) assists Lapeer resident Lanajo Chase on one of the facility’s public computers. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese LAPEER — Discussion has long been held on the topic of constructing a new facility to house the main branch of the Lapeer District Library (LDL), and this August voters will be able to decide if it’s a project they want to pursue.

The LDL proposes to build a new, larger library to replace the aging and land-locked Marguerite deAngeli Library at Main and Nepessing streets on the west entrance to downtown Lapeer.

In the voting booth, voters in the LDL service area will be asked to approve a 25-year millage, levied at .42 mills for the first year and .34 mills beyond the first year. The LDL service area consists of 12 townships (10 of those under “County of Lapeer” in the ballot language) and the City of Lapeer. The six townships in the county that are not voting on this bond proposal, because they have their own libraries, are Dryden, Almont, Attica, Imlay, Goodland and North Branch.

In total, the millage will raise an estimated $12.6 million for the purpose of funding the acquisition and construction of a new facility, as well as its equipping and furnishing. The site on which the construction will take place, on the southwest corner of Davison and DeMille roads, is already owned by the LDL.

“There are two distinct and separate millages that support libraries,” said LDL Executive Director Melissa Malcolm. “The first is the operating millage, which Lapeer County voters have seen on ballots since 1986, either as countywide library millages or as millages for individual libraries.” Operating millages are used to pay library staff, maintain buildings, purchase materials in available formats, purchase, upgrade and maintain technology, and support the programming needs of the community. According to Malcolm, LDL’s last operating millage of .9 mills was voted on in 2012, for a period of 10 years.

“The second is the millage, being voted on in August, that will give the library the funds for the new building,” said Malcolm. “The $12.6 million received must be used only for costs related to the building and grounds at the southwest corner of DeMille and Davison: construction, furnishings, equipment, security, technology, parking lot and landscaping.”

A feasibility study in April 2017 demonstrated that fund-raising would be extremely difficult and so, said Malcolm, the full cost of new construction is appearing on the ballot. “The need for this major investment in an essential community resource is the result of the library building outgrowing its capacity for modern library service and space for people and collections,” she said. “The library staff would like to be able to present programs indoors for more than just 45 people — the capacity of the current meeting room.”

According to Malcolm, the current facility’s children’s department is not big enough to seat a classroom of students, and teens have access to only one table in a corner of the second floor. “Computer users have no privacy or room to work at the elbow-to-elbow space allotted to each computer station,” she said. “Students do not have quiet places to work. There is no private space for a person to discuss a sensitive research query with a librarian.”

Malcolm continued, saying that the LDL’s collections are too small because there is not enough shelf space, and more books and other materials mean that the entire library district will benefit from a wider selection of materials held locally.

“Long-time library board member Don Miller reported to the city commissioners in 2005 that a new library for Lapeer was necessary due to technology and space,” said Malcolm. “That report is truer today than it was 13 years ago. It’s time.”

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