Pending August 2nd vote, community may end association with library

CHASSELL — On August second, Chassell Township residents will vote on whether or not to end their association with the Portage Lake District Library.

The Portage Lake District Library serves the City of Houghton as well as the communities of Portage Township and Chassell Township. However, some Chassell residents want that association to end, along with the roughly two mills taxpayers pay on average to support the library.

A ballot initiative to withdraw the township from the library is on the August ballot. It’s a proposal the non–profit organization that supports the library would like to see people vote against.

Friends of the Portage Lake District Library Board President Maria Bergstrom said, “If the library loses the support of the township, the library will suffer financial loss and probably have to cut services, they’re looking at likely one day a week having to close, cutting staff, cutting programs and cutting resources.”

Library officials are prohibited from advocating on their own behalf, but they do say that the Chassell millage provides about 20 percent of their overall funding.

There are fewer than 2,000 residents in Chassell Township but 800 of them currently hold library cards. If the proposal passes, they will have to pay for their membership if they want to keep them. And that means most Chassell residents will lose their access to library resources.

Bergstrom said, “You can get a lot of material on the internet, it’s true, but you don’t get the kind of service and guidance and help that you get from your public local library and you don’t have the community sense.”

If the proposal does pass, Chassell residents will save an average estimate of about $72 a year. Those wanting to continue using the library would have to pay $85 per person or $130 for a family.