Library millage renewal on November ballot

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published October 5, 2016

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HARPER WOODS — November is quickly approaching and that means Election Day, Nov. 8, is on the horizon. Among the candidates and issues that Harper Woods residents will get to weigh in on will be a millage renewal for the Harper Woods Public Library.

B. Kristen Valyi-Hax, the director of the Harper Woods library, wants to ensure that voters know this proposal would be a continuation of a previous measure, not a new measure or an increase.

“This is a millage renewal on the Nov. 8 ballot,” explained Valyi-Hax. “It will renew a millage previously authorized by the voters, and will not be an increase or a new levy. The millage rate will continue to be 1 mill. If a homeowner’s taxable value is $75,000, that comes out to $75 per year, or 21 cents per day. If a resident comes to the Harper Woods library each month to attend one program, check out five books and use the computer for two hours, he sees $135 in value, and return on investment of $40.90.”

Valyi-Hax said the millage is of the utmost importance to the library. 

“This millage accounts for about 45 percent of the library’s operating budget,” said Valyi-Hax. “If it does not pass, the library board will have to investigate making serious and painful cuts that will affect the materials we can buy, the programs we can offer and the hours that the library is open.”

Library staff and regular patrons of the library have voiced their support for the measure and hope there will be a strong turnout on Election Day.

“As an operating millage, this would fund books, movies, music and everything else people can take home,” said Mary Kingston, president of the Friends of the Harper Woods Library. “Because it’s an operating millage, it also would go toward equipment such as computers, paying the staff, programs such as our Ask a Lawyer workshop and musical performances, as well as just keeping the lights on and the water running.”

Kingston knows many people believe libraries aren’t as important anymore because of the internet, but she argues that they are more important than ever.

“It’s not only books, music and movies you can check out — a library is a place where kids can study or take part in a fun and safe program after school,” she said. “It’s somewhere someone out of work can get help filling out a résumé or use a computer if they can’t afford one, and a place where senior citizens can socialize and stay active. A library provides so much for a community.”

Valyi-Hax agreed and stated that she sees the difference a library can make on a daily basis.

“Yesterday, I helped a woman research a paper for her philosophy class. A week ago, a co-worker and I helped a man create a résumé when he’d never typed one before. Immigrant families use the library as an entry to the community while they select resources for themselves and their children. Our preschool storytime is often the first place where very young children learn how (to) interact with other kids and parents,” said Valyi-Hax. “A library is more than its books, its rooms and its people. A library creates a community space where everyone is welcome to enter so they can learn, have fun and gain experiences that transform their lives.”

For those who are interested in learning more about the Harper Woods Public Library or the upcoming millage renewal, the library will be hosting two public information sessions. The first will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, and the other will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19. The sessions will feature a slide show where Valyi-Hax will talk about the benefits the library offers and how this renewal would benefit the library financially. She also said it will be a good opportunity for residents who have specific questions to ask them to her directly.