ALA president Camila Alire releases statement on plan to divide Library of Michigan assets

Contact: Macey Morales
ALA Media Relations
312-280-4393
mmorales@ala.org

For Immediate Release
August 6, 2009

CHICAGO – Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has issued an executive order closing the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries, abolishing the position of state librarian and parceling out its assets.

The following statement was released by American Library Association (ALA) President Camila Alire in response to those actions.

“Scattering the library’s resources would destroy the integrity of the state library system. These resources were funded by the people, belong to the people and should remain intact. This is more than just shutting down a department. This tarnishes the position, influence and stature of the library community and state library.

“We understand that in economically challenging times, governments need to look at ways to streamline services. However, streamlining can be a double-edged sword. The governor’s order ignores the Library of Michigan’s leading role in achieving cost savings and efficiencies in delivering statewide library services through collaboration, resource sharing and group purchasing.

“The executive order by the governor is ill advised, to say the least. The governor is proposing moving collections that are 180 years old, thus putting in jeopardy the ability of future generations to benefit from the materials that the state library has collected and preserved. These collections are not just a treasured state resource. They were created by Michigan taxpayers and are actively used by researchers throughout the state and the country.

“During tough economic times, difficult choices must be made. But libraries are part of the solution when a community is struggling economically and are a necessity in efforts to get Americans back on their feet.

“From coast to coast, libraries have been first responders to the national economic crisis. They have been inundated by job seekers and users looking to better their lives through education. This also is the case in Michigan, one of the states hardest hit by the economic crisis, where residents are depending on their local libraries for free Internet access, employment services, personal finance resources, small business development and education and cultural programs --- and the services and collections of the Michigan State Library.

“I encourage all Michigan residents to contact the Governor’s office to express their opposition to her proposal to dissolve the state library and urge legislators not only to stop the Governor’s plan, but give libraries the financial support they desperately need.”