Changes to library after vote

HOUGHTON — What is the future of the Portage Lake District Library now that Chassell Township has voted to withdraw from it?

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. A ballot initiative for Chassell Township to pull out of the Portage Lake District Library passed last Tuesday.

The same proposal failed to garner enough support in the August primary. The decision is a devastating blow to the library.

Library Director Dillon Geshel said, “We’re looking at losing about 20 percent of our annual revenue, which is very substantial for us. To make up for that loss, we’ll be closing an additional day per week, we’ll have to make substantial cuts to our materials and processing budget-which is our book budget-as well as our technology budget.”

The changes will come after the Chassell withdrawal takes affect at the end of next year. But what does the loss of service mean to the residents of Chassell? Geshel said, “District library law does stipulate that if an entity withdraws, they do need to come up with a plan for continued library service for their residents. So that’s something that the Chassell Township board will have to take up. I know that they plan on doing so, so hopefully they can come up with an adequate plan for service. Whether that involves PLDL or not, I’m not sure yet.”

There are over 800 patrons of the library from Chassell. After 2017 they’ll need to pay for their own membership if they’d like to continue checking out materials from the library. Efforts to come up with a plan for scholarships for low-income residents and students in Chassell are underway.