The news that Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has abolished the states Department of Histories, Arts and Librarieswhich includes the state library and archivehas genealogists concerned.
Granholms executive order, which will save the cash-strapped state an estimated $2 million in the first year, divvies up parts of the department among other state agencies. Of particular interest to genealogists:
- Most Library of Michigan functions, including its genealogy collection, go to the Department of Education
- The Michigan Historical Commission, which includes the state archives, will be moved to the Department of Natural Resources
In Section B (8) of the order, Gov. Granholm directs the state Superintendent of Public Instruction (head of the education department) to cut state library costs:
Unless the Superintendent determines it to be impracticable, these measures shall include, but shall not be limited to Eliminating circulation of specific collections (including, but not limited to, the Main, Dewey, and General Reference collections, the Michigan collection, the Michigan Documents collection, and the Rare Book collection) or, alternatively, transferring such collections to other suitable institutions, . . . (c) Suspending or eliminating participation as a participating lending library in MeLCat, (d) Eliminating or transferring to other suitable institutions the Federal Documents Depository and the non-Michigan genealogy collection.
The order is effective Oct. 1 unless the state legislature rejects it within 60 days.
Genealogists provide 85 percent of the foot traffic to the Library of Michigan, says Michigan Genealogical Council (MCG) delegate Mary Strouse. The library’s Abrams Foundation Historical Collection is one of the 10 largest genealogy collections in the United States (see an overview here). Its Seeking Michigan Web site, a partnership with the state archives, was named to our 101 Best Web Sites list this year.
In a July 13 press release, the governor announced a possible transformed Michigan Library and Historical Centerthe Michigan Center for Innovation and Reinvention, which would help equip Michigan citizens for the knowledge-based economy through entrepreneurial and innovative programs, in partnership with a university or other organization.
What might happen to the library’s genealogy collection? Among other consequences, it could be broken up the among multiple locations, interlibrary loan access (through the MelCat system) could be shut down, and access to materials on non-Michigan ancestors could go away.
MCG reports that 10 Michigan senators have introduced bills in response, which would transfer functions of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries to the Department of State.
See the MCG Web site for information on these bills and links to finding Michigan senators and representatives.