Monday, August 02, 2010

Portage Library's future depends on Aug. 3 millage vote

After giving a presentation titled "Water, Life, and Industry on the Keweenaw," on July 29, 2010, at the Portage Lake District Library, Larry Lankton -- author, historian and Michigan Tech University professor -- signs his new book, Hollowed Ground: Copper Mining and Community Building on Lake Superior, 1840s – 1990s, for Phyllis Kruse, right, of Aura. The opportunity to meet authors is just one of the Portage Library's many free events open to the public. Also pictured, center, is Chris Alquist, Portage Lake District Library Community Program director. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

From Shawn Leche, director, Portage Lake District Library

HOUGHTON -- We are at a crossroads. On August 3rd, voters will be asked to vote on the library millage. Why is this important? The future of the library depends upon the outcome. Why is the library important and what is its place in the community?

Historically almost all towns had a few central components which comprised their towns however small they were: police, public library (often Carnegie libraries), fire station, swimming pool, doctor, public school, and a bank. The library is so much more than just what one thinks of in terms of a traditional library. We are a Lending, Learning, and Community Center. We are a cultural crossroads where the entire community participates.

The Library offers the following:
  • Free access to the latest books, magazines, and newspapers
  • Free use of computers and the Internet
  • Access to Michigan's MEL Library and our new Mango, foreign language database
  • Children's story hours and educational activities
  • Teen section
  • Diverse and multiple community programs
  • Free use of the community room
  • Opportunities to hear and meet authors
  • Reference services, help with homework
  • And over 10,000 interlibrary loans processed a year
  • Art and Commerical Films are shown
  • Live musical entertainment is provided
All this for an average of $5 to $7 dollars a month to our township residents. The presence of a library speaks loudly about the civic and cultural commitment of its citizens. Statistically it is found that for every $1 you invest in your library, you receive $2-$4 in return to your community. I can't think of a better bang for your buck.

Irrespective of your position, I urge all citizens to vote this August 3rd and not to take their vote for granted. Every vote counts.

Editor's Note: The Portage Lake District Library serves the citizens of the library district -- the City of Houghton, Chassell Township and Portage Township. The library also checks out materials to fee-paying individuals and families from outside of its district. To learn more about the Portage Library, visit their Web site at

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