Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 21, 2013

Classics at risk?


---- — KALKASKA — “David Copperfield” may soon find itself off the Kalkaska County Library shelves.

Library Director Bradley Chaplin said the building and its swollen stacks are reaching a point of “critical mass” in which old, classic books might have to be thrown out as new books arrive.

“Basically, it’s as simple as we’re in a small building,” he said. “It was built in 1940 back when the population was 5,500 people. We’re kind of restrained by property. We’re pretty hemmed in and running out of room.”

Chaplin said the state average for a library serving a population the size of Kalkaska County is about 17,000-square feet. The library is just shy of 5,000-square feet.

Library Board Director Michael Moran said those who want an idea what a new Kalkaska County Library might look like can visit Caledonia, which has a library serving a similar-sized community.

“The staff journeyed down there and they came back very, very impressed with the facility,” he said.

Tom Backers of Citizens 4 Better Government, a tea party-linked group that opposes the .87 millage, said supporters haven’t made the case the library would benefit all of Kalkaska County. He said taxpayers in Clearwater Township will bear the “brunt” of the cost over 20 years.

“The millage is reaching out to people that I believe won’t use the library,” he said.

Chaplin said library officials likely won’t ask for the full millage. He said a new facility would not only house more books, but help host computer training, children’s programs and classes on topics from health to fracking.

“A library is more than a building that houses books,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking for a vote.”

Chaplin said the library has $500,000 in its building fund to offset construction costs. He said if the millage does not pass, that money would go toward improving the current building, though he said there’s little that can be done in that regard.

“We used up our available space not only for collections, but our services and programs,” he said. “(The building is) older and more expensive to upkeep, as well.”