13 September 2009

Library of Michigan Crisis – Petition Needs Our Support

Within the genealogical community, the Library of Michigan has long been recognized as one of the premier state libraries in the country.

The cohesive Library of Michigan collection with over 180 years of Michigan history, literature and culture records and reflects the lives of not only those who remained to raise their families within the state but of millions more whose migration to other parts of the country left their footprints in the soil and records generated by their passage. Visitors come from all across the country to research at the Library of Michigan.

In addressing a $2 Billion deficit in the Michigan budget, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm issued an executive order in July, which would abolish the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. As originally proposed, the collections of the Library of Michigan would be scattered and the building built and designed to house the state library would be renovated to house a new function.

In meetings held during the Federation of Genealogical Societies/Arkansas Genealogical Society Annual Conference in Little Rock this past week, the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) representatives have initiated a petition drive in support of the Library of Michigan. This is the first time it has exercised this option since 2006, something of an indicator of the seriousness with which the genealogical community views this situation.

The RPAC petition became available for signature on Sunday, the 6th of September. The RPAC will close the petition drive on the 1st of October, the date the governor’s order is scheduled to take effect. The earlier one signs, the greater the impact.

Although the prospects for reversing this action are remote, we would not want it to be said that a state library can be closed without its users caring (or for other governors to think it a politically expedient thing to do).

Genealogists from within and without Michigan are encouraged to sign the online petition found at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/RPAC2009/petition.html. The RPAC then ask that you urge the members of every society of which you are a member to do likewise.

Additional background and the latest developments can be found at the web site of the Michigan Genealogical Council at www.mimgc.org/LOM.html. They may also suggest legislators to whom individual letters might be addressed at appropriate points in the legislative process.