A committee of representatives from Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township will meet Tuesday night to discuss drafting a proposal to form a district library.
Christine Hage, director of the , said the creation of a district library would have little impact on the 2,200 residents who visit the library each day. But it would secure future funding for the library, and it would guarantee that each community has a voice in how it is managed, Hage said.
How the library works now
Rochester's library, which serves all three communities, was formed under Public Act 164, also known as the Township Library Act. When it was created, the library was part of Avon Township.
The library is funded by the three communities: Rochester supports the library through a general fund allotment; in 2012, $424,618 is appropriated for library expenses, 4 percent of the city's general fund budget. Rochester Hills and Oakland Township support the library through a dedicated 1 mill.
As a government, the library is its own separate entity. It is governed by an elected board of Rochester Hills residents; Rochester and Oakland Township have nonvoting liaisons on the board.
How a district library would work
Hage said that regardless of how the library is named (with Rochester Hills in its title) or where it is located (in downtown Rochester), the library provides equal service to residents of all three communities.
"We don't care where you live. The sources of funding are a little different, but the services are the same," she said.
What is unequal right now is the way it's governed; only Rochester Hills representatives are allowed to vote on library policies.
Creation of a district library could give a voice to all three municipaities. The members could be elected at large — like the school board. They could be from Rochester or Oakland Township as well as from Rochester Hills.
If a district library is formed, a board would likely be appointed, and Hage said there would be equal members appointed from each of the three communities. Then, those representatives could be elected at the next general election.
In addition to providing the chance of equal representation, Hage said a district library would help secure future funding for the library.
"If, for example, Oakland Township decided it wanted its own library, it could break the contract and do that; they could form their own library and take that millage money with them," she said.
The third benefit of the district library formation would be participation in The Library Network. The regional library service is now limiting the borrowing of materials to residents of a library's community, so, for example, Rochester and Oakland Township residents are not able to check out TLN materials.
Under a district library, all residents of the district would be able to check out the materials.
If the library changes to a district library, most patrons would not notice a change, Hage said. The employees would remain. So would the Friends of the Rochester Hills Public Library organization. The services would remain the same, too.
"For the everyday resident who uses the library, I don't think there would be a difference," she said.
A name change for the library would be a possibility, she said.
More details about the district library will be revealed at Tuesday's meeting. Members of a district library committee will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the second-floor conference room of the library. The committee will discuss drafting a district library agreement that can be presented to the three municipalities.
There are nine people on the committee representing all three communities; the meeting is open to the public.