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Monday, July 27, 2009

Michigan Genealogical Council organizes support for Michigan State Library

The Michigan Genealogical Council is organizing support for the Michigan State Library. Although this is a local issue in Michigan, from the perspective of genealogical records, this is a national issue also.

Here is the text of their most recent appeal for help:
Fellow Michigan genealogists and library supporters - Now is the time for Michiganians to come to the aid of our state's history and learning.Your Michigan Genealogical Council is planning a public assembly in Lansing to show our legislators and fellow citizens that we care about our state's past.On Wednesday the 5th of August, let's assemble at the State Capitol, on the lawn. nbsp;We have reserved the North and South lawns, and the steps. Time, 9:45 a.m. The State Senate goes into session at 10 a.m., the only time in the next few weeks we can be certain our legislators will be assembled at Lansing. At 10:30 a.m., we will process/march over to the Michigan Historical Center and form our Hands Around the Library. Since the perimeter of the building is around 1800 feet, it is obvious we can use as many genealogists or friends of libraries/history of all types as possible. Flags and ribbons can be held between people as well as hands and arms.We'll stay around the building probably 20 minutes starting at 11:00 a.m. -- then off to lunch, research, or museum viewing! Thanks for your support of Michigan's past … and our future. Please let us know how many from your Society will be able to participate -- and questions to Sue Irvine.

Dating back to July 15, 2009, the Michigan Genealogical Council issued the following statement:

July 15, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

As you may be aware, Michigan is facing a huge financial crisis. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm issued Executive Order 2009-36 dissolving the Department of History, Arts & Libraries and splitting the various functions between various other state departments. The Library of Michigan would be transferred to the Department of Education, and the Archives of Michigan would be transferred to the Department of Natural Resources. This order would take effect October 1, 2009.

What is of concern is Section B (8) of the Executive Order that states:

“Unless the Superintendent finds it impracticable, these measures shall include, but not limited to, all of the following: (a) Eliminating circulation of specific collections (including, but not limited to, the Main, Dewey, and General Reference collections, the Michigan collection, the Michigan Documents collection, and the Rare Book collection) or, alternatively, transferring such collections to other suitable institutions, . . . (c) Suspending or eliminating participation as a participating lending library in MeLCat, (d) Eliminating or transferring to other suitable institutions the Federal Documents Depository and the non-Michigan genealogy collection.”

The Executive Order directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction to continue to look for ways to reduce library costs.

Also in the Executive Order is the formation of a committee to look at how to further reduce costs for the next fiscal year. The Executive Order can be reviewed at http://www.michigan.gov/gov/0,1607,7-168-21975---,00.html.

In response to the Executive Order, ten (10) Michigan senators have introduced bills (SB 503 – SB 527) transferring all functions of the Department of History, Arts & Libraries to the Department of State. This would include a separate pot of money from the general fund, held by the Department of Treasury, for any donations. The donations that are not spent at the end of the fiscal year remain in the account and are not transferred to the general fund. These bills are currently in a Senate subcommittee. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2009-2010/billanalysis/Senate/pdf/2009-SFA-0503-S.pdf.

While the Michigan Genealogical Council understands the crises the state is in financially, we feel that breaking up the collection at the Library, which has items dating back to the 1800s, is not the answer. Once this collection is gone, there is no going back. This would be a great loss to the citizens of this state as well as those that come to our state to use this collection. This would also be a blow to all public libraries, as they receive part of their funding from the library and have access to MeLCat, which is the system used for interlibrary loan.

The Council would like to encourage everyone to contact their legislators (in person or by phone) to help save one of our most valuable resources. For a listing of Michigan legislatures, you can visit the following website: House (http://house.michigan.gov/find_a_rep.asp) and Senate (http://senate.michigan.gov/SenatorInfo/find-your-senator.htm).

Please contact your family, friends, coworkers, societies, listserves, and anyone else you can think and encourage them to show their support for the Library and its fabulous collection. Let us band together and save our state’s history.

Thank you for your support,
Cynthia Grostick, President
Michigan Genealogical Council
http://mimgc.org/president@mimgc.org

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