BARAGA COUNTY — Baraga County residents could lose access to their public library if a new millage proposal on the May 5th ballot is not approved.
The library is located within the L’Anse Area Schools and serves as the public library for the entire community. The school system has been paying for the library, but due to shrinking enrollment and funding cuts, L’Anse Area Schools can no longer afford to fully staff it for public use.
Voters are being asked to approve a levee of 0.5 mils to generate approximately $124,000 to keep the library operating at full capacity.
L’Anse Area Schools Superintendent Carrie Meyer said, “We would be able to bring the library back to what it was, and that includes the full-time library director, which we’ve had a lot of complaints over the last couple of years that we’ve cut the staffing for the library director and not have that person there full-time…and bring back some of the programming we once had.”
As a public library, the state mandates operating hours and staffing and those personnel costs are what makes operating one so expensive. If the proposal fails, the hours the library is open to the general public may be drastically cut.
Meyer said, “Is that ideal? Not really. It’s not an ideal situation for students or the community but we have to do what’s best and cut in areas that are going to least affect the students’ academics.”
If the millage is approved, then the library will be full funded for the next five years. At which time, the measure will once again go before the voters.