Library Volunteer Mary Johnson at the Circulation Desk; Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula, 1960s | Bob Panter Collection
Library Volunteer Mary Johnson at the Circulation Desk; Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula, 1960s | Bob Panter Collection
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We are well into this year’s election cycle, as evidenced by all the campaign signs popping up around the Old Mission Peninsula. One of the items on Peninsula Township’s August 6 ballot this year is the Library Millage.

But first (of course!), a bit of Peninsula Community Library (PCL) history…

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PCL has always been a big part of my life, harking back to when it was located at Old Mission Peninsula School (OMPS). Mrs. Arney was the library director when I went to school there in the 1960s and 70s. She had a cadre of volunteers who helped with a variety of library tasks, including working the circulation desk, re-shelving books when they came back to the library, and helping us kids navigate the Dewey Decimal System and learn how to use our treasured library cards.

The origins of the library — when it began life in the school, that is — date back to 1957, when a group of Peninsula Township citizens were tasked with making it happen. You know the familiar names — Mrs. Garrett Boursaw (my husband Tim’s grandma), Mrs. Dale Mericle, Mrs. Leonard Sobkowski, Mrs. W.F. Wilson and Mrs. Ellis Wunsch.

Marvin DeYoung, superintendent of the school, “expresssed hearty approval of the project,” according to the story below that appeared in the June 28, 1957 Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Plans for Peninsula Community Library; Traverse City Record-Eagle, Jan. 26, 1957
Plans for Peninsula Community Library; Traverse City Record-Eagle, Jan. 26, 1957

My mom, Mary Johnson, was one of those dedicated library volunteers, serving first with Marge Arney, as well as all the library directors who followed, including Wanda Crampton, Julie Maxson and our current director, Vicki Shurly. Here’s a picture of Marge Arney at the PCL circulation desk, probably sometime in the 1960s.

Library Director Marge Arney at the Circulation Desk; Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula, 1960s | Bob Panter Collection; Library Millage
Library Director Marge Arney at the Circulation Desk; Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula, 1960s | Bob Panter Collection

Mom was one of the founders of the library we know today. She spent decades on the library board, including the board that in the 1990s decided to purchase the acreage on the corner of Center Road and Island View Road where the new library opened in 2019.

A bonus of having her on the board is that she always had one of my farmer brothers take their tractor down to the library property and mow the weeds down. She wanted it to look nice, even though it would be years before the new library was built.

Mom was also the PCL representative to the library co-op, traveling to wherever the meetings were held in the state and working with Traverse Area District Library (TADL) Director Mike McGuire. She loved books and libraries, and she especially loved PCL.

Here’s a picture of Mom at the PCL circulation desk, courtesy of the Bob Panter OMPS Photo collection. I’m guessing this is probably sometime in the early 1970s. I always loved it when Mom was volunteering on the days my class visited the library. “Hi, Love,” she would say when she saw me heading into the library.

Library Volunteer Mary Johnson at the Circulation Desk; Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula, 1970s | Bob Panter Collection
Library Volunteer Mary Johnson at the Circulation Desk; Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula, 1970s | Bob Panter Collection

Now, let’s get into the library millage…

PCL is an independent township library with its own board elected by the citizens of Peninsula Township and certified by the State of Michigan. When the district library was formed, PCL was grandfathered in and allowed by the State to remain an independent member library of TADL serving all the district’s patrons and giving our small library access to TADL’s collections and technology.

More than 90 percent of PCL’s funding comes through its contract with TADL, as well as all of our technology. Through that funding, PCL is able to offer books, movies, magazines, newspapers, games, a Library of Things, STEM kits, Memory Care kits, Explorer kits, puzzles, diverse programming, digital resources and more.

Library Director Vicki Shurly does a great job of keeping us updated as to all of the library happenings, of which there are many.

Library Millage 101

TADL has a handy flyer with all the relevant information, but here’s the rundown…

On the August 6 ballot, residents in the TADL service area will vote on a measure to restore the operating millage to its original amount set in 1983 of 1.1 mills. The purpose of this operating millage is to provide funds to pay for TADL services for the next 10 years (2024-2033). The existing millage will expire on December 31, 2025. The funds will be used to operate TADL’s library network, of which PCL is a part.

If residents vote “yes,” the existing millage, which was reduced by the Headlee amendment, will be restored for 10 years at a rate of 1.1 mills. If residents vote “no,” the current millage will expire on Dec. 31, 2025. Without millage funding, TADL will lose 90 percent of its funding.

How Much Will the Millage Cost Me?

If approved by voters at the rate of 1.1 mills, homeowners will pay $1.10 for each $1,000 of state equalized value (SEV) of their home for each year of the 1.1 mill rate. The millage rate in subsequent years may be subject to Headlee rollbacks. (In 1978, Michigan voters approved the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution. This amendment puts limits on Michigan tax levies and subjects them to “Headlee Rollbacks.” The TADL service district has had Headlee rollbacks in all but one of the millage years.)

This millage vote restores our rate back to 1.1 mills by renewing the current rate of .9044 mills along with a new additional rate of 0.1956 mills.

The average homeowner (according to the American Community Survey 2020 U.S. Census) in the TADL service area will pay $2.38 per week for library services, or $123.97 annually. To put it in perspect, that’s less than the cost of one coffee-shop coffee.

What’s the Benefit?

Library cardholders can check out more than 406,393 physical and 1.7 million digital items. The average library card holder achieves a value of $320.08 per year (as noted in this library value sheet).

What is the Actual Millage Language on the Ballot?

“This proposal is to restore the full amount of the 1996 millage that was approved by the voters in the amount of 1.1 mills beginning with the December 2024 tax levy in order to provide funds for the Traverse Area District Library for the next 10 years.

“For the purpose of providing funds for the Traverse Area District Library for all district library purposes authorized by law at an increased millage level, shall the previous voted annual tax rate which may be levied against all taxable property within the Traverse Area District Library district, Grand Traverse County, and a portion of Leelanau County, Michigan, be increased and shall the Traverse Area District Library be authorized to levy up to 1.1 mills ($1.10 per $1,000 of taxable value) as a new, additional millage annually for 10 years, beginning 2024 through 2033, inclusive?

“If approved and levied in full, this millage will generate an estimated $8,020,750.00 in revenue for the Traverse Area District Library in the first calendar year of the levy (2024).

“By law, a portion of the millage may be disbursed to other governmental entities that capture property taxes within their jurisdictions. These are the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Grand Traverse County Land Bank Authority, and the Leelanau County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

“Yes”
“No”

What Does the Millage Fund?

The millage is for the purpose of providing funds for the Traverse Area District Library for all district library purposes authorized by law. This includes:

  • All library resources including books, DVDs, e-books, audiobooks, magazines, online databases, nontraditional items, and Wifi hotspots.
  • Programs including storytimes, craft programs, and special presenters and authors.
  • Engagement in the community at schools, senior living facilities, and local events.

What Happens if the Millage Passes?

Approval of the millage ensures that residents in Grand Traverse County, as well as the portions of the City of Traverse City that are within the boundaries of Elmwood Township (Leelanau County), can continue using the Traverse Area District Library. Any resident can get a card and access all library materials.

What Happens if the Millage Fails?

If the millage fails, residents in the service district could continue to use the library under the existing millage until December 31, 2025. After that date, the library system would lose 90 percent of its funding.

Why Does the Library Need the Money?

Public libraries in Michigan are primarily funded through local property tax millage. Approximately 90 percent of the library’s revenue comes from property taxes collected from the library service district. Each year there is a Headlee rollback, fewer dollars come in for library programs, services and building updates.

What Other Funding Does the Library Receive?

The remaining 10 percent of library revenues come from state aid, penal fines, investment interest, donations and endowments and grants.

Do People Still Use the Library?

Yes! Today, about 48 percent of Grand Traverse County residents have a library card. Last year, more than 362,754 people walked through library doors, and checked out 1,283,067 items.

Why Are You Seeking a New Millage Now?

From an election standpoint, it’s more cost-effective to put the millage on a ballot during a regular general election. If we wait until 2025, TADL would have to pay all the costs of a special election. If the millage passes in August 2024, the amount approved by voters will take effect on the next tax cycle.

How Many Libraries Are Included?

This millage effort is for all the libraries in the Traverse Area District Library network:

  • The Main Library on Woodmere Avenue in Traverse City.
  • The East Bay Branch Library near Three Mile Road and Hammond in East Bay Township.
  • The Kingsley Branch Library on Brownson Avenue in downtown Kingsley.
  • The Fife Lake Public Library on Lakecrest Lane in Fife Lake.
  • The Interlochen Public Library on Tenth Street in Interlochen.
  • The Peninsula Community Library on Center Road (Old Mission Peninsula).

Here’s another photo from the Bob Panter Collection, probably in the 1960s. Anyone know who this is?

Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula, 1960s | Bob Panter Collection
Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula, 1960s | Bob Panter Collection

Also Read…

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SUPPORT YOUR INDEPENDENT LOCAL NEWSPAPER: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

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