A BRIEF ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY
In 1961, the Flint Public Library served as the headquarters for a State Library project involving the libraries in Shiawassee County and Genesee County. The Flint Public Library offered book processing and selection services to these libraries, and the Genesee County Library offered bookmobile services to the Shiawassee County libraries. In 1964, encouraged by the availability of federal funds to establish and support library systems, dismayed by the end of funds to support the State Library project, and influenced by the fact that it would no longer qualify as a "system library" by itself, the Flint Public Library initiated a proposal that would form a library system to improve library services. In cooperation with one or more neighboring libraries, the Flint Public Library could again qualify for federal funds by entering into a "cooperative library system" under the State Aid to Public Libraries Act of 1965.
In 1965, the library boards of Durand Memorial Library, Lapeer City Public Library, Edna C. Bentley Memorial Library, Owosso Public Library, and the Laingsburg Free Public Library passed resolutions expressing an interest in joining such a system, with the Flint Public Library serving as Headquarters.
In December 1965, an agreement was signed between the Genesee County Library Board and the Flint Board of Education (which serves as the library board for the Flint Public Library), establishing the Flint and Genesee County Public Library Cooperative. The purpose of the agreement was to "provide the means for improving library services in Genesee County and the City of Flint". The Genesee County Library Board was empowered to serve as the Cooperative Board, and the Flint Public Library was designated as the Headquarters Library for the Cooperative; the Flint Public Library director was also designated the director of the Cooperative. An area library consultant was hired to administer the services offered to its members: a Universal Borrowers Card Service, a Young Adult Services Program, In-service Training Programs, Inter-library Loan and Delivery Service, the Flint Journal Indexing Project, State Library Greenaway Book Service, State Library Catalog Card Service, and Consultant Service on Cooperative Development.
In April 1967, the name of the Cooperative was changed to the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative, and the area library consultant became the executive director. In 1968, Lapeer County Library and the Edna C. Bentley Library formally joined the Cooperative. Owosso Public joined in 1971, followed by Lapeer City Library in 1973. In 1975, Corunna Public Library and North Branch Township Library joined, and in 1976, the Shiawassee County Library joined as well.
In the late 1970’s, the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative facilitated the establishment of the Mideastern Michigan Region of Cooperation (MMROC). This organization provided service to the academic, public, school and special libraries of the region. Federal LSCA (Library Services and Construction Act) Title III grant funds were used to support the activities of the Region of Cooperation.
In 1977, when the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative was reorganized under the State Aid to Public Libraries Act 89, the library boards from Lapeer County Library, Holly Township Library, Genesee County Library, Flint Public Library, Edna C. Bentley Memorial Library, Durand Memorial Library, and Shiawassee County Library passed formal motions to join, followed in 1978 by Owosso Public Library, North Branch Township Public Library, and Corunna Public Library.
In 1978, under the reorganization, a new nine member Cooperative Library Board was formed as outlined in the Plan of Service. Two permanent seats each were allotted to representatives appointed by the Genesee District Library Board ( formerly known as the Genesee County Library Board) and the Flint Public Library Board (the Flint Board of Education), with the remaining five seats rotated among the other member libraries. At the same time, the then-executive director became the director of the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative, and no longer reported organizationally to the Director of the Flint Public Library, but rather, directly to the Cooperative Library Board.
In 1980, Imlay Township and Vernon District libraries joined the Cooperative. Although there were some changes in services and technology during the 1980's, there were no further structural changes made to the organization nor its membership.
In March 1992, Eugene Griffel retired as Director of the Cooperative after twenty-six years of service. Sara Behrman was hired as the new Director and began work on March 16, 1992. In June 1993, upon a thorough re-examination of the Board's employment policies and procedures, the informal arrangement for the leasing of space, payroll and administrative services with the Flint Community Schools was terminated. The Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative moved to new office space in the Northbank Center Building in downtown Flint and new employment policies and procedures were established by the Cooperative Board.
In 1994, the Shiawassee County Library failed to qualify for state aid and full membership status; however, their full membership status was restored in 1995. In the fall of 1994, the two independent libraries of Owosso and Durand Memorial merged to form the Shiawassee District Library. In 1995, the Ruth Hughes Memorial Library became a district library. In October 1996, the Almont District Library and the Dryden Township Library, as a result of the dissolution of the Blue Water Library Federation, joined the Cooperative as full members, thus completing service to Lapeer County.
Federal LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) grant funds were used to support the activities of the Region of Cooperation and the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative. Funds were used to convert library collection MARC records into machine-readable format, to assist in the purchase of computers and automated circulation systems, as well as, to provide funding to enhance collections. The funding also assisted in helping to foster communication and cooperation among the various types of libraries. A decision by the Library of Michigan to eliminate the LSTA grants funding the Regions of Cooperation, prompted the MMROC to begin the process of looking at alternative methods for continuation of the association of multi-type libraries. A strategic planning session was held in December 1997, and a report was issued in early 1998, indicating that a merged organization between the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative and the Mideastern Michigan Region of Cooperation should be established, keeping in mind the requirements of 1977 PA 89 which governs Cooperative libraries in the State of Michigan.
In October 1997, Sara Behrman tendered her resignation as Director of the Cooperative, effective June 1998, after six years of service. In May 1998, the Board accepted a contractual agreement with The Library Network for Eileen Palmer to serve as Interim Administrator of the Cooperative until such time as the Director's position was filled. In September 1998, the Library of Michigan granted District Library status to the Flint Public Library. Roger Mendel was hired as the new Director of the Cooperative and began work on December 15, 1998.
In April 1999, the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative moved to new office space in the Mott Foundation Building in downtown Flint. Two new library systems were added during the latter part of 1999 --- in August, 1999 Laingsburg Public Library became a member completing service to Shiawassee County, and in October, 1999 Capital Area District Library became a member extending our boundaries into Ingham County. The total population served by the cooperative increased from 591,183 to 827,249 (1990 census figures), making Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative the fourth largest cooperative in the State of Michigan.
In January 1999, the issue of merging the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative and the Mideastern Michigan Region of Cooperation was revisited, whereupon a Merger Committee was appointed. A series of interviews with the Director of the Southwest Michigan Library Cooperative were held, which resulted in many discussions with the Region of Cooperation membership, the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative Advisory Council, and the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative Board of Trustees. The Mideastern Michigan Region of Cooperation and the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative Advisory Council voted in the summer of 2000 to recommend to the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative Board of Trustees approval of the general plan for merging the MMROC with the Cooperative. In September, 2000 the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative Board of Trustees took formal action to approve the general plan for merger of the Mideastern Michigan Region of Cooperation with the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative. An Implementation Committee was appointed and charged with the responsibility of completing the details involved with merging the two organizations.
In June 2001, a new plan of service was approved by the Boards of the public library membership setting the standards and guidelines for including non-public libraries and institutions as members of the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative, beginning October 1, 2001.
On December 31, 2002, the Lapeer County Library ceased to exist and officially became the Lapeer District Library January 1, 2003. This event was the culmination of many years of discussion and planning. A District Library Planning Committee was formed several years earlier to discuss the issues related to changing the library from a county library to a district library. Representatives from municipalities served by the County Library were asked to participate, an attorney was hired and along with County Library Board members and staff, a District Library agreement was hammered out. Final approval came in the fall of 2002 when the participating municipalities agreed to the document and passed resolutions to form the District Library.
In October 2003, three new public library systems joined Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative --- Bay County Library System, Grace A. Dow Memorial Library in Midland, and Public Libraries of Saginaw, extending our boundaries into three additional counties. The total population served by the cooperative increased from 859,022 to 1,180,110 (2000 census figures), making Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative the third largest cooperative in the State of Michigan.
In November 2002, the Shiawassee County Library board was informed that the County would no longer support the library as a county service. Several meetings occurred with the interested parties and the County Board of Commissioners decided to support the County Library for one more year with a reduced appropriation. At this time, the library board was in the process of interviewing candidates for the open Library Director position. The interviews were suspended and a search for an interim director took its place. In February 2003, Jeff Johnson was hired to serve as the interim director. In November of 2003, with no plan yet in place to replace the present county library arrangement, the library board took action to plan for the closing of all their library branches effective December 23, 2003. Soon after the notices were posted, a new series of meetings were held with interested townships and cities. In record time the townships and the City of Corunna developed a plan to organize a new district library. The formation of the Community District Library was approved by six townships and the City of Corunna, and the plan was approved by the Library of Michigan on May 1, 2004. On June 10, the first official meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Community District Library was held. A millage vote for .5 mil was approved by 58.7% of the voters at the August 2004 primary. The MMLC Board took action at the September 9, 2004 meeting to officially accept the withdrawal of the Corunna Public Library and the Shiawassee County Library and accept the membership request of the Community District Library. Holly Township Library, in the spring of 2004 added the remaining 50% of Groveland Township to their service area. This brought the total service population of the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative to 1,184,261.
In 2007, the City of Perry held a meeting with representatives from the Community District Library and the Edna Bentley Memorial Library board to discuss the library joining Community District Library. After several meetings of the boards and city officials in January Edna Bentley Memorial Library became a branch of the Community District Library, pending a successful millage vote to be held in the summer of 2008. With the successful passage of the millage on August 5, Edna Bentley Memorial Library officially became a participating member of the Community District Library. The August 5th vote also renewed the millage for Community District Library.
In 2008, the MMLC Director and the Genesee District Library Executive Director discussed the future of the Talking Book Center. With a smaller percentage of the cooperative being served by the Center and greater cuts in state aid, it was decided that an alternative way of providing the service should be found. After some discussion, it was decided that the Genesee District Library would take over funding and operations of the Talking Book Service and would serve only Genesee County residents. The users in Shiawassee and Lapeer would receive their service from the Library of Michigan beginning October 1, 2008.
In the late spring of 2008, the Chippewa River District Library (Mt. Pleasant), the Pere Marquette District Library (Clare) and the Coleman Library requested membership in the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative effective September 30, 2008. The addition of the three libraries added two counties and a population of 77,011 to the cooperative. That brought the population of the cooperative along with other population increases in current members up to 1,272,045.
In the fall of 2008, MMLC Director Roger Mendel announced his retirement, effective September 30, 2009, after eleven years of service. The MMLC Board officially welcomed Denise Hooks as director of Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative effective October 1, 2009.
In 2012, Goodland Township voted to withdraw from the Lapeer District Library. After discussions with Ruth Hughes District Library failed to result in an agreement to join their Imlay City neighbors in the district library, Goodland Township residents voted to form their own township library. In September 2013, Goodland Township Library Board voted to join the cooperative. Their 1,828 residents did not change the cooperative’s total population figure as they had already been a part of Lapeer’s service population and then categorized as Unserved within the cooperative’s service area. With recent losses in population, mostly in Genesee County, the Mideastern Michigan Library Cooperative service area population dropped to 1,241,879 residents in 2013.