WARREN — Like craggy old trees, Warren’s eldest branch libraries have roots that stretch back decades. Weathered and familiar, they’ve survived through the years while neighborhoods and neighbors grew up around them.
They were saved in 2010 when voters overwhelmingly approved a 20-year millage to support the Warren Public Library system.
Now, the city is inching closer to announcing plans to renovate the Maybelle Burnette Branch Library, on Van Dyke south of Nine Mile Road; and to expand the Dorothy M. Busch Branch, on Ryan between Nine Mile and Stephens.
“The library system is in really good shape,” Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said last week, confirming that plans were in the early stages and that an announcement would be coming in the future. “I want to maintain the library as a service to all, regardless of age or background.”
Warren Library Director Oksana Urban said the current plans would expand the footprint of the Busch Branch from 4,700 to 6,000 square feet.
“We hope to have a facility that will provide for adult and children’s programs, as well as an area that will provide for computer access,” Urban said.
She said Busch, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, currently has just 10 adult computers that are “continually being used, from open to close.” There are also three computers for children to use.
The Burnette Branch Library has a total of 17 computers, most of which are in a lab originally added with the assistance of grant funding through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Burnette, dedicated in 1966, has 6,069 square feet of retrofitted space that struggles to accommodate modern technology.
“We would like to have multipurpose rooms at both branches. Even a study room would be in order, as well,” Urban said.
Fouts said plans to improve both libraries could be announced soon.
In August 2010, 65 percent of Warren voters supported a 20-year, 0.50-mill tax levy to support the Warren Public Library system that now operates four branches. That includes the Civic Center Library at City Hall, on Van Dyke north of 12 Mile Road, and the Miller Branch Library at the Warren Community Center, on Arden west of Mound and south of 14 Mile Road.
“I think we’re committed to the branch libraries,” Fouts said of the 2010 millage vote. “We have a top-notch library system.”
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