Farmington library trustees share numbers with city officials

After a tumultuous 2018, a new Farmington Community Library (FCL) board is setting its sights on the future, with data leading the way.

Trustees on Monday made a presentation to Farmington and Farmington Hills city councils that included information about the library’s current position, finances, strategic plan, and goals in an increasingly tech-driven world. Farmington Hills hosted the 6 p.m. meeting in the Community Room at City Hall.

City officials complimented trustees, seven of whom were appointed in 2018, for catching up so quickly. Six board members resigned last year after Farmington Hills Mayor Ken Massey removed a long-time trustee.

Library and city councils
Farmington and Farmington Hills city officials met with Farmington Community Library trustees Monday in the Community Room at Farmington Hills City Hall.

Massey said Monday that decision was made because city officials weren’t getting the detailed information they wanted about the library’s budget.

FCL is a District Library – the state’s first, established in 1955 – and the cities originally allocated money for operations. Massey said during that time, the library board provided  more “back up” information about the budget.

Under the state’s district library law, the only control city officials have lies in appointing trustees, who have the authority to directly ask taxpayers for funding. Massey said because trustees are appointed, “the ultimate fiduciaries responsible for funding are elected officials.”

Massey said he’d like to see regular joint meetings, “to bring us up to speed.”

Farmington Mayor Steven Schneemann pointed out the cities also meet with Farmington Public Schools trustees. “We’ve found those to be quite productive,” he said.

“We would like this to be at least an annual meeting,” Library Board President Jim White said, “so we can remind you… and so the community will be reminded of the really wonderful gem we have in the Farmington Community Library.”

By the numbers

White said during the library’s 2017-2018 fiscal year, both the Main Library in Farmington Hills and downtown Farmington branch saw more than 580,000 visitors, who checked out more than one million items. Library staff interacted with about 159,000 patrons, and nearly that many people attended 1,600 library programs.

The library also offers outreach in the form of community story time events and visits to early childhood centers and senior communities. The library’s summer reading program has grown, White said, with increased participation from teen-agers and, new in 2018, English as a Second Language readers.

Patrons ask for help with everything from tracing their family ancestry to polishing up a resume, White said, adding, “It’s amazing how much of a resource we are for people who are new to the community.”

He also recognized more than two dozen community partners, with special thanks to Farmington Public Safety, Farmington Hills Police and Fire Departments, and the Farmington Friends of the Library. The Friends group, White said, provides significant support for the library’s subscription data bases and many other programs.

White punctuated his presentation with comments from library patrons, including one request for “new toilet paper” and another asking for changes to meeting room reservations. Most echoed the sentiments of a Farmington Hills resident who praised the professional service provided in the copying/computer area and the “joyful and educational” children’s programming.

“You have lessened the burden for this single mom,” she wrote.

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