“We’re pretty tight on space but we make it the best we can,” youth librarian Carrie Frazer said.
Frazer walked around the 2200-square-foot strip mall space, giving a short tour of the Bath Township Public Library. In the same room where the used books are sold and the library holds its meetings, there was an event for the public on Michigan true crime stories.
The local library is an important piece of the community for children and adults alike. Now, many libraries face decreased attendance and find themselves cutting costs. Some community libraries have even merged to form one library.
These trends are what makes the case of the Bath library interesting. Mainly because there wasn’t one until 2018. Prior to this, the DeWitt library serviced Bath citizens. This service was offered in exchange for the Township’s penal fines.
Sue Garrity, president of the library’s board of trustees, says DeWitt was a great help, but its library was over 10 miles away.
So, the idea of a Bath library began with a grassroots movement. Garrity said DeWitt’s library, and its director Jennifer Balcom, were helpful and understanding in this process.
“We had a library center for three years as an experiment the township started,” Garrity said. “Then we ran a millage election which allowed us to open the library under a specific Michigan public act.”
With its official start, the library needed to form a board of directors. This board totals six people, including Garrity. All six will serve until the presidential election cycle, so they are for reelection in 2020.
Now, the library gives a whole new set of citizens access to important resources. Not only does it provide books but they also provide technology and internet access to those without it.
The library also gives citizens access to obscure resources a 3D printer, a power washer and even a telescope. Additionally, the library has staff for helping people unfamiliar with technology.
Given how new it is, some Bath residents still don’t even know about the library. So, Garrity and others go to events around town to promote it, focusing in part on children. This includes things like the Truck or Treat event, and the elementary school carnival.
“If there are kids in this community that want to read books, but they don’t have their own,” Garrity said. “You want them to have as many books as they possibly can at home”
Encouragement to reach out to kids came in part from the library’s director, Kristie Reynolds. While many people involved don’t have experience, as an independent library is new to Bath, Reynolds had already worked before in other libraries in Michigan.
Now, as Bath Township is expected to grow, the new library must keep up. The library is searching for a new, larger space.
“In the next census it’s anticipated we will be rated as a different class of library based on population,” Garrity said. “And to be fully compliant with state laws you need more room and a larger collection.”
”It will more than triple the space we have now,” Reynolds said. “We have the plans drawn up and are working on funding for it.”
Reynolds explained that the tax paid by residents from the millage election is equal to about .68% of every penny earned. So, the library is also looking for funding from donations as well as applying for grants.