From the Director: Preserving Libraries

It’s a great time to show your library some love.

A recent national media article has chronicled the devastating effects of budget cuts to U.S. public libraries, noting that many are currently threatened with staff cuts, reduced hours and even branch closings. It seems incomprehensible, but libraries are not immune to the cutbacks facing so many other vital services and institutions in our communities.

At KDL, most of our budget (87 percent) comes directly from taxpayers like you, through your property taxes. When property values decline, so does our funding. Additional cuts anticipated at the state level next year could amount to an added loss of $1.1 million in revenue for KDL. These cuts come as patrons are using KDL’s services even more due to the tough economy. If Governor Snyder’s plan to eliminate personal property taxes for businesses is approved without some form of replacement funds for libraries, cuts that are happening at other public libraries will happen here too.

We have worked hard to keep past cuts from impacting those services most valued by our patrons. Still, you have likely noticed fewer copies of books on the shelves, a decreased number of library employees at your local branch, or perhaps we no longer offer a program you have come to enjoy. While we remain dedicated to providing you with the very best service possible no matter the financial circumstances, we could use your help to preserve the library services you love.

I’ve listed below a few simple things you can do to support the library:

  • Donate to the KDL Fund. No gift is too small!
  • Write your legislator. Your message can be as simple as: “I love my library. Replace, don’t erase, the personal property tax.”
  • Be an advocate. Tell your friends and family about KDL, the great services we provide and what the library means to you.
  • Continue to use the library. Whether you come through our doors or use services on our website, the more you use KDL, the more you prove that libraries remain an invaluable community resource.

As director of KDL, I plan to loudly voice my intention to preserve public libraries for our generation and for many more to come. Please join me.



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Lance Werner


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Written by Lance Werner

Lance Werner

Lance Werner is the director of Kent District Library, the state’s second largest public library system. Before coming to KDL, he served as director of the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, and as Library Law Specialist at the Library of Michigan. He lives in Rockford, Michigan with his wife and four children.

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2 Responses to “From the Director: Preserving Libraries”

  1. Mike Arthur Says:

    Mr. Werner,

    I love the library and think our KDL system is a great thing. In my opinion libraries are the single biggest indicator of a civilized society.

    As we look to preserve this important resource, I think it is time to reconsider the evergreen catalog used by the GRPL. I understand that using it would provide significant cost savings AND we would once again be able to coordinate with the single biggest library in the area.

    From the comments of your librarians I am given to understand that passions have run high on this issue, but hard headed choices will have to be made if our libraries are to survive.

    Mike Arthur

  2. Lance Werner Says:

    Dear Mr. Arthur:

    Thank you so much for your comments. We always appreciate hearing from our patrons.

    With regard to your statement about the library catalog, I can say that we regularly investigate other possibilities (including Evergreen) to determine the most viable, cost effective, and user-friendly software for our library system. We are committed to getting the maximum value out of each of our taxpayer’s dollars while offering a catalog that provides the functionality desired by our patrons.

    As for our relationship with Grand Rapids Public Library, I am happy to report that we regularly meet with our counterparts at GRPL looking for ways to further our relationship including the development of partnerships that will benefit people throughout Kent County.

    Thank you again for your comments and your commitment to libraries. One of the reasons for KDL’s success is that we serve passionate library lovers like you who not only use their local library, but take the time to provide feedback. Thank you!

    Lance Werner
    KDL Director