ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Several townships and the Rockford city council will meet Wednesday night to discuss the future of the Krause Memorial Library.
Since 1937, the library has been at the corner of S Monroe Street and E Bridge Street. In 1994, voters passed a millage, and the building has been a part of the Kent District Library system since.
“By square footage, it’s the most popular library in all of KDL,” said Cannon Township Supervisor Steve Grimm.
The building currently serves people in the city of Rockford, Algoma Township, Courtland Township and Cannon Township. Local leaders say because of its popularity, they’ve been looking at ways to expand the library for the last few years.
“Right now, it’s 9,000 square feet and we did some needs analysis. We think we could grow it up to 27,000 sq feet,” said Algoma Township Supervisor Kevin Green.
Grimm says the Bridge St. building would expand into what is now the back parking lot. He says they approached KDL about expanding but says the district library’s structure does not allot funds for a project like this.
He says to pay for an expansion, all four municipalities would potentially have to establish another tax in addition to the millage people already pay to run the library through KDL.
Local leaders plan to look into their options at a special meeting Wednesday. They say one of the options they’re exploring is breaking away from KDL altogether. They say this would need to be decided before the 20-year millage expires in 2023, but first, they want to provide taxpayers with information about how it would work.
“If the taxpayers wanted, we could have this be a stand-alone library, for a lot less money, but you wouldn’t have the level of service because you don’t have the other libraries you can have access to,” said Grimm.
Grimm says going independent would also mean hiring new staff and buying new books. He says despite discourse on social media, this project has nothing to do with censorship or removing books from the library.
“It is not about control over what people can read. To me families decide what they should or shouldn’t read, not township boards or city councils or even district libraries,” said Grimm.
Local leaders say they’re still in the preliminary discussion phase and the final decision would be up to voters. They say they’re hoping to provide residents an option to save money while still providing the services they depend on.
“We’re not sure what this is going to look like but it’s our job to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar,” said Green. “People are hurting as we all know. So, if you save $100 on your tax bill for example or whatever the number becomes, it all adds up.”
The special meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at East Middle School. It will be in person and open to the public.
—Correction: A previous version of this article reported the wrong day the meeting will happen. We regret the error, which has been fixed.