Wayne State May Take Over Troubled Macomb County Library

Wayne State May Take Over Troubled Macomb County Library

After enduring years of cutbacks and closure threats, the Macomb County (Mich.) Library may have found a savior in the form of Wayne State University in nearby Detroit, which is considering a deal to take over operations of the struggling library.

Under the plan, Wayne State would lease the building and manage the facility, which supplements the services of local community libraries by specializing in offering research materials as well as items for people who have visual impairments, the Macomb Daily reported June 4. The library’s 13 full-time and 19 part-time staff would be kept on, although as vacancies occur they will be filled by Wayne State employees. Director Darlene LaBelle, who would be replaced under the plan, expressed no regrets since she felt the library would be doomed without the partnership “I think the basis of the plan is a good, sound one that will ensure the future of the library, which has been under the gun for about five years,” she told American Libraries.

The arrangement would also offer a boost to Wayne State’s Library and Information Science Program, which offers degrees through the adjacent Macomb Community College University Center.

“This is a win for the county because we’re able to save money,” said county Commissioner Paul Gieleghem, who helped negotiate the proposal. “It’s a win for the residents who will see the services preserved. And it’s a win for the whole county, because it means an expansion of higher education opportunities.”

Facing a $12-million deficit for 2008, the county considered closing the library in January, for a savings of $2.7 million. In 2005 a county commissioner had proposed selling the facility, calling its prime location in the center of the county too valuable to be occupied by a library.

The partnership proposal must be approved by the county library board and the Wayne State board of governors.

Posted on June 6, 2008. Discuss.