I was honored to be among the crowd of concerned historians, genealogists and just plain Michigan citizens who attended the Michigan Genealogical Council sponsored “Hands Around the Library” yesterday. Our car included three members of the Oakland County Genealogical Society and two members of Geneabloggers, but there were four of us. I was the one who is bridges the gap between the more traditional Genealogical Societies and the new media types, since I am a member of both. I am planning to write more on that later this week.
When we arrived at the Capitol, I had to say, “That’s our crowd, look at all the old ladies!” But in fact, there were people of all ages, male and female attending the demonstration. I heard a little boy say, “We have to hug our Library, they are going to close it.” He had a very wise parent with him.
I don’t have a single photo of the event to post here, but my camera was in the van! If you are interested in photos of the event, there is coverage on the Lansing State Journal website. The used to be red-headed granny in the bottom photo is me; I have no idea how that happened. My new buddy, TK Sand also posted some photos, and will be blogging about this issue today. If you are a Facebook member, several genealogists have also posted photos, including Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens and Roger Moffat.
MGC had a good line-up of speakers, and two State representatives who were not on the program also spoke. Everyone was preaching to the choir, but it did feel good to be there among the 500+ people. During the Hands Around ceremony, I found I was standing next to a gentleman from my hometown. I had not met him previously, but his wife was a class ahead of me in high school. I am sorry I didn’t get to see her; they had traveled much farther than our little Detroit area group.
The power of the internet became perfectly clear at the Library, when Mary walked up to me and asked, “Are you GrannyPam?” I was completely floored. Believe me, she hadn’t looked at the photo I have here on this blog, but the one I have on Facebook and Twitter. Also, when TK arrived here to join me for the ride to Lansing, she said, “You look exactly like your picture!” Hmmmm.
I know of no way to minimize the damage that the closing of the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Historical Center will inflict on Michigan researchers and citizens. Destroying the Department of History, Arts and Libraries and splitting the department oversight among various State agencies will result in the loss of a priceless collection of Michigan History. I believe the support for local libraries provided by the department is essential for the continued education of our children.
Several years ago, I coordinated the move of the small, but very valuable Oakland County Genealogical Society library collection. We did it with boxes we begged, borrowed and stole, volunteer labor, and transportation generously provided by The Library Network, which loaded a box or so at a time onto it’s van on its regular route. It was hard work, but it saved a large collection of Oakland County history.
That experience tells me that moving the large collection at the Library of Michigan would be a huge, expensive task. I wonder if it might cost more to move the collection than to just keep the building open for several more years. I wonder what it might cost to remodel the building for offices (the current plan)? Certainly much more than simply renting offices.
Everyone wants to know is, “What can we do?”. Some answers lie in the good old fashioned political process; yesterday was just a start. My MGC representative said, in order of importance, to
- Personally visit my representative and senator
- Phone their offices
- Write snail mail letters to them
- E-mail them
- Please copy Governor Granholm on every piece of communication
Although electronic communication is simple, it doesn’t seem to carry as much weight. Today is the day to phone, write and e-mail the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee (get their addresses and phone numbers here) to tell them to preserve the Library.
The MGC is following this closely, and has now devoted a page to the issue. Please follow that and act often to save Michigan’s precious historical resource.
Our children and grandchildren are counting on you to demonstrate the importance of Michigan’s rich heritage and act to preserve it.