Friday, July 08, 2011

Will Troy, Michigan, Allow Its Library to Close

The citizens of Troy, Michigan, have a decision to make on August 2.  Are they willing to pony-up the tax revenue needed to keep the city's public library open - or not?  Apparently, there is a good chance that if the tax increase fails to pass, the library will be closed on August 12 - unless the city council makes changes to its budget to somehow cover the shortfall.

Now someone in Troy is making sure that everyone there gets the news about the pending vote - by planning a book burning party to dispose of the library's contents if the tax increase fails to pass.  There's even a Facebook page to promote the book burning party (satirical, one assumes), although, according to this TroyPatch article, a whole lot of people don't think this is satire.  They think it's real.

And then there are some, like this man, who are all for the library closing shop for good:

There are many other libraries at neighboring cities that anyone can use. It seems that residents that use the Troy Library are either from rental apartments, Sterling Heights, Shelby, Rochester Hills or other local cities. I have used it once in 25 years, we have the internet for everything now, why should we have to pay HEAVY TAXES for their MISMANAGED FUNDS, and USELESS spending habits. Then in 5 years they want more taxes, we shot is down once, it needs to be not approved again. Residents are smarter than City Hall, close the library, it is no more than a coffee shop for loafers and people that need to get a life or have no life. INTERNET is where it is at!

At least this issue is getting the attention it deserves. Sink or swim, citizens of Troy, it's all up to you guys.


  1. The idea of library closings, and people being absolutely okay with it, brings bile to my throat. That said, I'm not entirely sure if the "book burning party" stuff is the best way to drum up support. I could see it inspiring outrage of the wrong sort in the very people the library hopes will support them. That said, this kind of thing does get people talking, so who knows. I wish them luck, although, if I were a library user there, I'm not sure I could ever look at one of the staff members at the library the same way again. Unless it was just some random person and not library staff that put this together?

    I've never worked at a library that was forced to close (and I hope I never will), but I imagine that dealing with the materials left over would be difficult. If someone opts to sell it, who would handle the arrangements? I'm assuming the money would go to the city, but there would still need to be someone talking to a company that specializes in selling old library books (the best and quickest way to go, I would think). And even then, there would probably still be some destruction involved - the items that don't sell would probably be recycled or destroyed some other way.

  2. I get the impression that no one is quite sure who is behind this campaign, Library Girl. Heck, some aren't even aware that it is all a satirical attempt to raise public awareness about the vote.

    As for library closings, the scary thing is that most cities seem to be overly concerned that a locked-tight library with thousands of books on the shelves becomes a fire hazard almost overnight. That means the books are sometimes disposed of with little thought as to what the best approach would be.

    Those in Troy who are wishing to see their library close will probably only miss it when its gone, if that happens. They are obviously to shallow to think very far ahead...

  3. Sam, this so upset me that I did a bit more checking and found an article with the library's response to the signs, available here:

    The article details what the library actually plans to do with the materials, with no mention of anyone bringing up fire hazard concerns. I hope the crazy person behind the "Book Burning Party" doesn't try to force the issue, and I hope the city doesn't wreck the library's plans for there to still be a library if they are forced to close and people later realize that a mistake was made.

  4. I didn't know it was possible for anyone to be AGAINST a library. Really?

  5. Library Girl, that's what makes something like this so scary to me. Letting the existence of a city library come down to the wire this way is asking for trouble. One never knows what will happen when push comes to shove and time runs out. What if the wrong people find themselves with the power to shut this thing down to save a few bucks in the short term? What kind of legacy and image is this for a city the size of Troy, MI? Thanks for the link, btw.

  6. Hard as it is to believe, LIbby, it is not impossible. There are really people like that out there...

  7. Hard as it is to believe, LIbby, it is not impossible. There are really people like that out there...

  8. According to Phillip Kwik Director of Public Services at Troy Public library the group is not a joke and is led by a man named Tom Ball. Phillip is updating the situation on twitter:!/pjkwik.

    We are The Books for Walls Project a family of four along with a growing group of regular contributors. We've signed on to help support TPL through the August 2nd election. Join us for Save Troy Library Tuesdays when we update what's happening and let folks know how they can help support TPL --like spreading the word to friends and asking them to share it with their friends --out daughters (7 and 11) like the image of how the word will spread.

    Join us and help save Troy Public Library!

    "And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

    So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries."
    — Kurt Vonnegut

  9. Four of You, I figured this book burning thing was simply a way to shock the public into an awareness of the situation faced by the Troy library. That it could be a serious thing, never crossed my mind, quite honestly. If it is indeed the serious effort of someone or some group, they are insane, IMO.

    Thanks for the information and the links. I wish you all the best of luck in keeping the doors open and the library functioning as it should. This is all very sad...and it seems to have caused more than a few nuts to surface.