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Marcellus Township Wood Memorial Library

History of the Library - Part 10

How Shall We Pay the Bills? By Suzanne Lind
History of the Library - Part 10

Terry Quinn, who was a member of the Marcellus Library Board from 1993 to 2004, and President of the Board for several of those years, was devoted to the library and extremely proud of its progress and development in the early years of the 21st century.  Soon after the completion of the library extension in 2002, Quinn wrote an article for the Marcellus News, sharing his delight and pride in how the library had grown, and how the services it provided were expanding in a very timely fashion.  (This article, dated April 18, 2002, is on display at the library.)  Excerpts from the article:


“The recent completion of the addition to the library is only the latest in a long history of developments that have led to the present rather sophisticated media and education center that Marcellus enjoys.  Its roots go back over a hundred years and its progress through those years has come about through the efforts of many individuals and the support of the Village and the Township. . .


“. . . In 1945 Grace Welcher became director and served for nearly twenty years.  The library also acquired a basic source of funding when a one-half mill levy was passed by the Township.


“In 1973 Norma Willbur became director and oversaw a number of significant changes in the library.  In that year, the library acquired telephone service for the first time!  In 1978 the library joined the Southwest Michigan Library Cooperative.  Belonging to the Cooperative provided a number of important advantages.  The library could now access other member library collections through the inter-library system. . . Use of the inter-library loan system required the library to purchase a computer for the first time.


“In 1996, after 23 years of dedicated service, Mrs. Willbur resigned as director.  The Board then selected the present director, Christine Nofsinger.  During the next five years a great many changes occurred in the library and its operation.


“Probably the most significant change came with the advent of computers and particularly the availability of Internet access.  It became apparent that if the library was to be able efficiently to use the inter-library loan system and the Internet it would be necessary to totally revise the classification system used at the library.”  (Good-bye, card catalogue; hello, computer.)


“Fortunately, there was grant money available through the State of Michigan, and Marcellus was successful in two proposals that gave it the necessary money to update part of its collection and, more important, to automate its collection and circulation.  Additional grant money from the Gates Foundation allowed the library to acquire a number of computers that were available for use by the public. . .


“An increase in the population served by the library led to the library’s classification by the State (of Michigan) to change from a Class I Library, to Class II Library.  This change brought with it an increase in the funding provided by the state.  The public had also supported an increase in the operating millage from one-half mill to one mill in 1997.  A further vote of confidence from the public came when they approved a renewal of the 1 mill levy in 2000, which allowed the library to borrow the necessary funds for the extension of the building in 2002.


“Marcellus now has a library that it can be proud of.  The library provides services similar or identical to those available in much larger communities and it provides them in a spacious and attractive setting.  The Village and the Township have been consistent in their support of the library and their appreciation of it is reflected in their ever-increasing use of its facilities.”   (End of Terry Quinn’s 2002 article.)


In the library’s early years, late in the 1890’s, the library grew slowly but steadily, its only income the $1.00 per year membership paid by those who wanted to borrow books.  Slowly other sources for support were developed.  The Village of Marcellus raised the funds needed to complete the original building in 1924, and with both Village and Township support the library was able to access additional funds for maintenance and operation.  Currently, 92% of the library’s budget comes from township taxes, thanks to the 2 mill levy currently in place.  A renewal of this millage will be on the ballot on election day this year, November  6, 2018. 


The Michigan State government provides a small amount of money for support, and some funds come through the penal fines paid to courts by citizens who pay fines for misdemeanors.  These funds have decreased steadily in recent years.


The steady income from Township taxpayers is the backbone of financial support for the library and is used primarily for operation and maintenance.  Without that support, ongoing maintenance and operating hours would be jeopardized. 


But what about the books, the programs, the videos, the computer upgrades, the fax and copy and scanning and internet services?  How are they paid for?!  Two important extra sources of income help to provide these resources.  One excellent source is made up of generous individuals, groups, clubs, and local families honoring loved ones, who make donations of money or other gifts because of their appreciation for the library and its role in the community.  Another source is financial grants from companies, organizations and foundations.  Well-written  grant proposals bring in healthy sums for books, equipment, furniture, programs.  The current library director has made grant-writing an integral part of her work for the past 20 years.


Below is a list of some of the donations and grants which have helped the library to thrive in recent years:


Memorial Donations from individuals or families in honor of loved ones, from 1996 to 2018, have totaled $17,240.00

General Donations from 1996 to 2018:

            General donations $7,005.85

            Kay Ohlrogge Foundation (2013) $36,500.00

            Marcellus Education Foundation (2005) $265.00

            Rotary Club $900.00

            Grace Hartshorn Estate (2006) $500.00

            Mary Jones $2000.00

            Roger and Esther Brown (2004) $22,200.00

            Order of the Eastern Star (2001)  $1600.00

            Fish Lake Association (2004) $458.90

            Fish Lake Association $2787.00 for new computers

            100 Plus Women Who Care of Cass County  $3000.00 for copy machine 

            Modern Woodmen (2014)  $2500.00 for library furniture

            Lion’s Club (2010) $4885.00

            Total $84,601.75



            Southwest Mich. Lib. Network (1996) $250.00 Internet grant

            Library of Michigan (1997) $20,000.00 non-fiction grant

            Fred Upton Foundation (1997) $3000.00

            Library of Michigan (1998) $30,000 automation grant

            American Electric Power (1998) $3000.00 for children’s books

            Dept. of Natural Resources (1998) $500.00 for books on forestry and  

            (2004) $498.02

            Consumers Energy (1998) $1000.00 for programs

            Ed Lowe Foundation (1998) $350.00

            GTE (1998) $800.00 for books

            Gates Foundation (2000) $7917.78

            Arbor Day Mini-Grant (2004) $400.00

Library Services and Construction Act., Lib. Of Mich. (1998) $1150.00

for internet access

            Marcellus Downtown Development Authority $8647.81

            Cass County Youth Council (2004) $1950.00

            Dollar General (2005) $1000 for children’s books

            Scholastic Book Grant (2011) $221.14

Wal-Mart (2012) $1000.00 for programming

            Libri Foundation (2012) $1401.55

            Robert Reinhardt Foundation (2010) $25,000 for interior repairs

            Universal Service fund $6735.64 for phone lines

Southwest Michigan Library Cooperative $18,000.00 for technology and staff development

            Ben and Jerry’s (2014) ice cream!

           Total Grants:  132,323.92



Because the Marcellus Township Wood Memorial Library is an independent Township Library, rather than a branch of a county library, it has autonomy and flexibility in its planning and fund-raising.  In addition, the library’s six board members are all elected from Marcellus Township; they are closely in touch with local people, interests and resources.  The Marcellus community has provided the support and enthusiasm needed for their library to thrive creatively.