Guest Post by Olivia Rose
The Albion District Library (ADL) has served as a vital piece of the Albion community since becoming a district library in 2007. The library board and faculty have pushed to provide a safe community space. They reach out to not only the residents, but the Albion College students with a variety of programs intended to foster a search for education and a well-rounded community.
After I attended the ADL Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 10, I learned that the library’s active participation in the community is at risk. The state has claimed that ADL will receive $37,000 from them to make up for the property taxes lost to Renaissance zones, but with several years of the state changing the amount, the board is uncomfortable counting on this money. “We’re projecting and hoping that we’re wrong,” says Cindy Stanczak, the ADL interim director.
“If we don’t say we’ve been promised this,” said Paula Pheley, board president, “[then] we’re looking at a $15,000 revenue cut.” This could mean losing hours, programs, staff, or employee benefits as the board struggles to make ends meet. This loss could potentially bring an end to the community center the town has come to know and love.
I couldn’t walk away without attempting to help. As a sophomore at Albion College with a grandparent who lives here, I know how important this library is.
The library’s dual functionality is a huge part of the community atmosphere in Albion. Citizens can attend many programs, and use the library as a gathering space for clubs, meetings, and more, both by invitation and renting.
Unfortunately, although some students have been involved with the library in some way, the financial status of the library is not common knowledge on campus.
Students at the college, who are also community members while they attend school (even if they don’t have family living here), cannot allow such a key part of the community to be cut. Other students felt as motivated to act; my friend and Ford Institute member, Elizabeth Barnes, discussed the matter with me, and then she met with the Ford’s director, Patrick McLean.
However, there is so much more we students can do. Simple things, such as visiting the library, wearing one of their T-shirts, attending their programs and bringing friends; just advocating for it and remembering it’s there can be a huge help. 2016 will be their millage year, and the more advocacy the library receives, the better chance of it being passed. The library is preparing to start a group to kick off the campaign in Feb. 2016, and could benefit from student volunteers. ADL also appreciates all donations, whether designated or not, or sponsoring a book or DVD (contact the library for more information). Consider joining the Friends of the ADL, too, who raise money that goes towards helping the library pay it’s bills, and covers the cost of their summer reading programs.
The library accepts work-study, too, so any students with it can apply to work. ADL is only responsible for paying 25 percent of the students’ paycheck, and don’t have to provide benefits, saving them a good amount of money.
One of the most important things that students and community members can do is patronize local businesses. The library relies on property taxes for at least 80 percent of its yearly budget, and the recent declines have taken a toll. Buying locally will raise business’s values, which will raise property values and restore a more stable income.
ADL is in danger of being unable to provide the center the community wants and rely on. As students at the college, we cannot let our community suffer when we, with our own huge population, have the power to help.
Volunteers and suggestions are all welcomed and encouraged. Go to this blog for updates on the library’s status.
Photo by Olivia Rose