Frequently Asked Questions about the Library Closing
(Updated information: May 17, 2011)
[Updated June 3, 2010]
When is the Troy Public Library closing?
On May 10, the Troy City Council adopted a fiscal year 2010-11 budget by a 4-3 vote which is in line with Option 1. Option 1 reduces Library hours in 2010-11, and closes the Library on July 1, 2011.
Why is the Library closing on Saturday?
Public libraries receive funds – State Aid – from the State of Michigan. This Aid pays for Troy's membership in the Suburban Library Cooperative, and gives the Library privileges such as access to the Michigan Electronic Library electronic resources, the MelCat interlibrary loan system, and other services that would cost thousands of dollars if the Library had to purchase them. Also, State Aid is needed in order to have reciprocal borrowing agreements with libraries not in the Suburban Library Cooperative, such as Rochester Hills, Clawson, Royal Oak, Birmingham, and Bloomfield Township.
In order to receive the benefits of State Aid, there are rules governing its receipt. One is that that Troy Library needs to be open 55 hours per week. Troy is currently open 65 hours per week. This means that only 10 hours can be cut from the Library’s open hours in order to keep State Aid and all of its benefits.
The Library’s budget was reduced $1.2 million for the coming fiscal year. To meet this reduction, cuts were made across the board. However, the majority of these cuts occurred in staffing: seven full time staff members and 23 part time staff members will be laid off prior to July 1. This is one third of the entire library staff. Staffing the library for 55 hours per week after losing one third of the staff is going to be challenging. There is likely to be longer lines to check out material; longer time for returned materials to be checked in and reshelved; and longer wait times for computer assistance and reference assistance.
Now let us look at the Library’s schedule. The Library is open for 11 hours per day, Monday through Thursday; eight hours a day Friday and Saturday; and five hours on Sunday. There is no question that Saturday is a busy day. Because Saturday is so busy, more staff need to be scheduled that day, to accommodate the demand for service. Scheduling that many staff members on Saturday reduces the number available to cover the remaining days of the week. So, wait times would be even longer, because the staff would be spread so thin the other 47 open hours during the rest of the week.
In addition, closing on Saturday means that the Library will be closed from 5 pm Friday until 1 pm on Sunday. That will maximize the savings of utilities costs.
Finally, the other factor which was considered was access to library service. Troy residents have resident borrowing and use privileges at the Suburban Library Cooperative libraries. If a Troy resident went to one of those libraries, he or she would be treated like a resident of that community. However, all of the SLC libraries are closed on Sundays in the summer, and most are closed Sundays year-round. With the Troy Library being closed on Saturdays, Troy residents can go to another library on Saturday and receive resident privileges, and use The Troy Library on Sunday. This means that Troy residents will still have seven day access to library service; six of which are at TPL.
Why doesn't the Library just run with volunteers, or have an all-volunteer staff?
Michigan's privacy laws prohibit volunteers from having access to patron records. In other words, it is illegal to allow volunteers to have access to information contained in a person's library record. That is the primary reason why the library cannot have a volunteer staff.
Why can't the Library charge people a membership fee to get a library card?
The Troy Library is prohibited by law from charging residents a yearly fee for an organization supported by tax dollars. This is called an illegal usage fee.
Where can I go if Troy Library closes? What happens to my borrowing privileges?
All resident and non-resident policies - that is, who has access to what - differ by library. Some may offer statewide MeLCat and MichiCard services to non-residents; others may not. Libraries that offer borrowing privileges to non-residents charge a fee. Locally, that fee ranges from $50 to $200. Several libraries in the area will not sell library cards to non-residents at all. These are local decisions, made by the governing body of each individual library. When the Troy Library is closed, Troy residents who want library service should contact local libraries to see where they might obtain service.