Michigan Library Advocacy Day 2024 Fact Sheets and Talking Points

Fact Sheets

Freedom to Read

View fact sheet (pdf).

Need: Intellectual freedom is a core value of the library profession and puts librarians, library workers and library trustees, front and center to protect Michiganders’ right to read.

Ask: We strongly urge Michigan legislators to introduce, co-sponsor and adopt the Freedom to Read Act as proposed by the Michigan Library Association.

Funding - State Aid

View fact sheet (pdf).

Need: Michigan libraries require increased and secure funding to continue providing essential and innovative services to their communities. The current State Aid allocation, set at $0.50 per capita in 1977, has not kept pace with inflation and should be approximately $2.50 per capita in 2024.

Ask: Increase State Aid to Libraries by $2 Million for FY25 to keep the 397 public library systems in Michigan viable and strong.

Key Points

  • State Aid grants, which make up about 5-10% of a library’s revenue, are based mainly on the state’s population and paid based on per capita rates.
  • Changes in the state’s population alter the appropriation necessary to fully fund grant awards.
  • State Aid helps Michigan libraries fulfill their mission of providing education, training, and resources to residents.
  • As the demand for print, digital, and electronic information grows, it’s crucial to advocate for the resources that make libraries innovative and essential.

Funding - Capital Improvements

View fact sheet (pdf).

Need: Libraries in Michigan are facing challenges with aging infrastructure, broadband capacity, energy consumption, mold, and accessibility barriers. The lack of dedicated funding for library facilities since 1997 at the federal level and inadequate capital funding at the state level has made it difficult for libraries to address these concerns.

Ask: Support a $25-50 Million investment from the Michigan legislature in an infrastructure grant program for capital improvements for public libraries in Michigan.

Key Points

  • Capital improvements to library facilities can create more space, reduce energy consumption, preserve cultural heritage and historical spaces, and bring library buildings up to the latest technical standards.
  • Improvements could include enhancements to protect health and safety, upgrades to broadband equipment and technology hardware, updates to make spaces accessible for people with disabilities, abatement of hazards such as mold and lead, and increases to environmental sustainability.
  • The purpose of investments of this magnitude is to recognize and resolve deficiencies in existing library facilities and anticipate and meet future demand.
  • This investment would begin to reverse decades of underinvestment in library infrastructure.

Other Important Issues

View talking points (pdf).

Reform Headlee

In Michigan, the majority of funding for public libraries (approximately 80% overall) comes from property tax revenues in the form of dedicated millages. Depending on how a public library is legally formed, up to four mils may be levied in dedicated funding.

In 1978, voters approved an amendment to the Michigan constitution known as the Headlee Amendment. Headlee protected property owners from increases in taxes by rolling back the tax rates of millages so that growth would not exceed the rate of inflation from the existing tax base. In 1994, voters approved the Michigan Education Finance Amendment, known as Proposal A. Proposal A separated taxable value from state-equalized value and caps increases in taxable value at 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

The effect of Headlee and Proposal A together means that millage rates are permanently reduced (or “rolled back”) during periods of economic growth, which achieves the desired outcome of protecting taxpayers from taxes that are too high. However, during periods of economic recession, when property values decline, there is currently no mechanism to restore millage rates to the amount voters originally approved.

A Headlee Override involves asking the voters to approve raising the millage rate to its original rate after it has been forced to be rolled back because of growth in property values. It is the position of MLA that in an economic downturn, when values are decreasing, millage rates should be allowed to go up at the same rate of inflation.

Ask: MLA supports legislation to reform Headlee and help to stabilize library revenues during an economic downturn.

Support School Library Legislation

Michigan ranks 46th in the U.S. in staffing school libraries. Michigan also ranks 43rd in the nation in 4th grade reading achievement, while studies show that students who attend schools with certified school librarians have higher reading and writing scores, better ACT scores, and better graduation rates.

We believe that all students in Michigan deserve equitable access to effective school libraries staffed by certified school librarians who:

  • Increase student achievement with focus on reading achievement by supporting and teaching reading and inquiry learning
  • Provide equitable access to diverse resources in their schools
  • Teach information literacy, research, and digital citizenship skills to prepare students for college and career
  • Lead and support technology integration in their schools.
  • MLA strongly supports the need for policy and funding to ensure every student in Michigan has equitable access to a school library staffed by a certified school librarian.

Ask: We support the “Library in Every School” Bills introduced by Senator Camilleri and Senator Bayer (SB741, SB742, SB743).

Allow for Remote Meetings in the Open Meeting Act (OMA)

Allowing public library boards to meet virtually is of prime importance as the distance and time it takes to attend bi-weekly and monthly library board meetings takes its toll on participation. Updating Section 3a (MCL 15.263a) as amended by 2021 PA 54 of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) would allow cooperative library boards and local library boards to meet virtually if they choose.

Ask: We urge support of these updates to allow for remote participation for elected and appointed trustees.

Halt the Diversion of Penal Fines

Michigan is the only state to have constitutionally mandated funding for libraries through penal fines which account for 3% to 70% of public libraries' annual budgets. In 2008, penal fines were at their highest level of $32 million.  By 2020, penal fines had dropped to $24 million. MLA continues to see a slow erosion of this source of income for libraries across the state with little control on reversing this trajectory.

Ask: We urge you to halt the erosion of penal and civil fines as new legislation is enacted and introduced.

Importance of Millages to Library Funding

A small group in Michigan is questioning if property taxes should be eliminated by changing the Michigan Constitution and is actively working to get this question onto the November 2024 ballot. It would be cataclysmic to libraries if property taxes were eliminated. Without this vital source of revenue, public libraries in communities throughout Michigan would let go of their staff members, close their doors, and cease to exist.

As locally controlled cultural institutions, most libraries in Michigan are funded primarily (75-95%) through property taxes. For our communities to be welcoming and vibrant places to live, work, visit, and learn we must recognize that this investment is critical and essential for every resident.

With over 7,700 employees working at the 397 library systems in Michigan, libraries are one of the last free and open public institutions in the heart of every single community in Michigan. Over 50% of Michiganders hold library cards and consistently and enthusiastically value their libraries by voting to support them through local millages (some in perpetuity.) Libraries are more than just books and are constantly evolving to provide the community with free and open access to information – offering access to high-speed internet, employment assistance, workspace, early literacy support, and more.

Not only would libraries be affected, but the entire fabric of our communities would be decimated as well: local government, police, fire, schools, jail, downtown development authorities, community colleges, parks and recreation, and the list goes on and on. The snowball effect and tremendous loss of jobs of this chaos would devastate our communities. It has been stated that an $18 billion dollar hole would be created in state and local finances and there is no indication of how any of these critical and vital services would be funded.<

Ask: We are strongly opposed to the efforts of a small minority to eliminate property taxes.


State of Michigan Budget Cycle Infographic (jpeg)

Michigan State Budget Cycle (pdf)

The Legislative Process (pdf)


Uniting the Michigan Library Community

MLA is proud to partner with organizations serving the library community.

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