TRAVERSE CITY — Four people who have worked 13 years to bring a branch library to Blair Township will have to wait a little longer.
Blair Township board of trustees rejected a request to purchase a building in Grawn used by Farm Bureau Insurance for about $300,000 to house a new branch for the Traverse Area District Library. Township officials said they declined the request because TADL cannot afford to staff or equip another branch.
“The Blair Library committee has been at this for 13 years and they want to see something happen,” said Pat Pahl, township supervisor. “But to shell out up to $300,000 without a commitment from TADL and then be responsible for maintenance just didn’t make sense.”
The library committee acknowledged it struggles with trying to mesh the timing of two related issues: getting TADL to set aside funds for a library that doesn’t exist and convincing township officials and donors to construct a building that may not be funded for years.
Committee member Gloria VanHoose commends the group’s founder, Dorothy Biegler, for keeping her and original committee members Caroline Loney and Joe Pawlaski committed to a township library.
“Her motto has been ‘never give up’
and that is exactly how we feel,” VanHoose said. “TADL is a wonderful library and we would love to have a little piece of it.”
Karen Giddis, committee chairwoman and its newest member, said the committee focuses on promoting the need for the library, and small steps to move it towards it’s long-term goal.
The committee set up a mini-library in the parking lot of Odom Reusable Building Materials and gave away 700 books in seven months. Beginning July 20 TADL and Traverse Area Public Schools will provide library services for six Saturday mornings at Blair Elementary School. The committee will also host a flea market as a fundraiser on July 20 at the Northwestern Michigan Fair grounds.
Giddis said the library is important not only to boost literacy, but also as a site for people to access computers to help them find jobs.
“This is one of the poorest townships in the county and so many don’t have computers or Internet ... and they don’t always have the resources to get into town all the time,” Giddis said. “It’s a long process, but we are going to keep pushing to make more people aware of the growing need for library services in our area.”