Closing the book on the state library is no vision
|By Kyle Melinn|
Hey, does anyone want to buy one of the nation’s top 10 genealogy collections?
You know, trace your ancestors back to the 1700s. See which cool historical figures you’re related to.
Right now digging for your roots is free at the Library of Michigan. But since the state is flat broke and Gov. Jennifer Granholm has turned the Library and Historical Center into a garage sale, the entire collection is on the market, much like about everything else in the Library.
Michigan’s rare book collection, documents, general reference books — just about any large collection inside that gorgeous building off Allegan Street near downtown Lansing could be moved to Michigan State University, Cooley Law School, the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, wherever the best deal may be.
Right now, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the rest of state government are only in the business of putting our dwindling tax money into "essential services." The state Library doesn’t fall into that category.
We’ve bought lock stock and barrel this myth that state government is a bloated bureaucracy full of employees that do nothing but stare into the Capitol Plaza all day.
We’re convinced that whatever we’re taxed, it’s too much. Our state taxes always have to be lower. Whether they’re $1,500 a year or $1.50, it’s too much.
So our petrified leadership in state government allows the Republican Party to exploit these myths for their political gain. The ones that are hurt end up being us and our state’s reputation as a whole.
Instead of figuring out a nominal fee structure for our national-leading genealogy collection or a library subscription, like she did with the state museum, the governor is parceling off HAL like an auctioneer at a pauper sale.
The state’s genealogists and librarians are trying valiantly to save HAL from getting its plug pulled. They’re planning a Capitol rally Sept. 10, the day before the governor’s HALkilling executive order goes into effect.
And then there’s that little problem called the governor. God bless her. She has this great vision of the library entering into some sort of grand symmetry with Michigan State University called the "Center for Innovation and Reinvention," where culture and technology comes together … whatever that means.
If the state had an extra million bucks hanging around, they’d keep the Library’s doors open. If MSU had the money, it wouldn’t be indebting students to age 50 with its astronomical tuition (which is nearing Jupiter every year because the state can’t pitch in like it used to).
By the time this "reinvention" commission comes back with its final report on June 1, 2010, Granholm will have seven months left in her final term — hardly time to get blueprints together let alone pull off a project of such a grand scale. And there’s absolutely no guarantee our next governor will share this same vision.
And it’s not a vision for Michigan we should be proud of.
(Kyle Melinn is the editor of the MIRS Newsletter. His column appears weekly. Email him at melinn@lansingcitypulse. com.)