Chassell voters to decide whether staying in library

CHASSELL TOWNSHIP – Chassell Township voters will decide on Tuesday whether to withdraw from the Portage Lake Library District.

A vote of “yes” on the measure would remove the township from the library after December 31, 2017. Residents would no longer pay the 2 mill tax levy for the library. Those who wanted to remain library members would instead purchase a library card.

Library Director Dylan Geshel said Chassell residents pay an average of about $74 a year in taxes to support the library. After leaving, he said, residents would have to pay $85 for an individual library card and $135 for a family.

While there is a school library in Chassell, it is not available to the general public, Geshel said.

“By having to implement those fees for Chassell residents, it really makes our services a lot less accessible to them, especially those that can’t afford that,” he said.

About 800 residents have active library cards, Geshel said. If the withdrawal passes, the library would lose about 20 percent of its revenue, he said, which would have to be offset through a mix of staff cutbacks and reductions in days of operation.

Geshel said at least two staff positions would have to be cut, while the library would have to close an additional day per week.

“I think it’s really important that we stay open on Saturdays because that’s one day when people who work during the week can still get here to access resources they need,” he said, “But we’re not sure yet what day of the week it would be.”

Geshel said he would also have to reevaluate a number of the 10 to 15 digital resource collections the library makes available to patrons.

Geshel compared the $6.15 per month average cost for library services to a $25 per month charge for Netflix, which would cover three DVDs at a time and streaming on two devices.

“The amount of material and resources we offer our patrons in Chassell, at less than $80 a year average, is really pretty incredible,” he said.