Troy, Michigan's public library – celebrated by numerous celebrated writers – will shut unless a dedicated local tax is voted in
The letters were solicited in 1971 by Troy children's librarian Marguerite Hart, who asked dozens of famous names to tell the town's children about the importance of libraries, receiving 97 replies. They were recently rediscovered by the library's head of public services Phillip Kwik, who posted them online where he says they "went viral", receiving over 25,000 hits in a month. "The letters are a living reminder of the need for a public library," said Kwik. "They reflect a time, in the US, when despite what was going on, we were a more compassionate nation. We understood the benefits of public institutions, education, and libraries in improving ourselves, our neighbours, our communities and the world. Something in the letters speaks to every one of us, and engender thoughts of a better, more informed, and more tolerant society."
Troy library has lost 14 staff since last July and had been scheduled to close in May, but a potential reprieve has been offered by a special election on 2 August which will propose establishing a dedicated local tax, or "millage". "Troy library is under threat because the city of Troy does not have the revenue to fund it any longer," said Cathy Russ, the library's director. "Currently, the library is scheduled to be open through Tuesday, August 2, the date of the special election," said Russ. "I am told that if the millage fails, 'the library will close immediately'. While I think the library will be open on Wednesday, August 3, I can't guarantee that it would be open for very much longer after that, if the millage fails."
Russ agreed. "Libraries across the US have had to deal with budget cuts, there is no question about it. And some of the smaller libraries without dedicated millages are facing closure," she said. "It saddens me that an institution that is designed to help everyone, regardless of background, age, economic situation, is under such threat these days."