Election Results: Birmingham Voters Send Clear Message on Library

A proposal to tear down two wings of Baldwin Library and rebuild the facility was hotly contested.

Birmingham voters spoke loudly in Tuesday's $21.5 million bond issue vote. (Patch file photo)
Birmingham voters spoke loudly in Tuesday's $21.5 million bond issue vote. (Patch file photo)

Voters in Birmingham have defeated a $21.5 million bond issue proposal that would have provided more meeting space, a children’s library, a coffee cafe and other amenities, according to unofficial election results.

Here’s the total:

No: 3,775 votes –  76.4 percent

Yes: 1,167 votes – 23.6 percent

The proposal was hotly contested, with both supporters and detractors, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Opponents said the proposal was a waste of money because it would tear down facilities that are still usable, would have diverted taxes from other needs like road repairs, and came at a time the role of libraries in communities is shrinking because of ubiquitous online services and ebooks.

They said supporters of the improvement want to build “the Taj Mahal” of libraries.

Proponents argued libraries are still vital community gathering spots. In Birmingham, library usage increased 14 percent over the past decade. The 327,000 visits last year “show that more people are using us all the time,” library director Doug Koschik said.

RON Ostrodamus May 08, 2014 at 02:22 AM
On the protesters side 21 Mil is a lot of money these days in Michigan. However the on going moronic accusation of the digital age replacing books is I repeat moronic At any library worth its salt are computer techs who can help you with any problem, and you also have books as a back up. In the past the same folks would say that since we all have encyclopedias who needs a library? Don't forget that the library also serves as a place where kids can meet to work on assignments and double as a quiet place to study without distraction. It also doubles as a meeting place for groups of folks to meet and enjoy a lecture, a concert, meet an author, hear a candidate debate, so on and so forth. The idea for a coffee shop sounds delightful for those who wish to study somewhere other than at a home filled with distractions and family demands. I commend the foresight of those who recognize their library as being a reflection of all who live in the city. At least the hours are not cut as they are in my city of Royal Oak which prefers bars to parks and libraries. At least your library carries the Sunday New York Times I presume. I do believe that if you can find a way this new renovation will also support your schools, your teachers, seniors, and become a major attraction for all grad students including law students and med students from all over. It could only help your property values if you really think about it. Add that just like your new park has attracted so much business downtown I am sure your renovated library would do the same. On a positive side the library will attract to Birmingham all may want to attend an event and those same people will happily pay for parking, and no doubt will also shop and eat in your downtown. A lot to think about. Where would you rather see your kids spend their time? At the mega screen movie watching the latest Spiderman, or at your library? Try to imagine your kids asking you if they could go to the library and really mean it.
Terence Gates May 08, 2014 at 07:09 AM
I voted No. What frustrates me is that there was nothing on the ballot to actually ask the voters (all 4,942 of them - a big turnout for a May election) HOW MUCH they think the Baldwin Library improvements should cost. I agree with several other posters that the voters would have approved up to $5M for Baldwin to fix/update/reconfigure the current building THEN revisit the question 10 years down the road when the digital age is further developed. BTW - 5.5% of the 2013 Baldwin check outs were for e-materials checked out from patrons At Their Homes..... this will only grow.
Racer Boy May 08, 2014 at 07:22 PM
I don't believe the issue that was overwhelmingly resolved in this election was about the value or relevence of our library. It actually was centered around the irrepsonsible and totally empty-headed notion that the investment in the yet-to-be-defined future should be $21.5M.
Ray Hess May 09, 2014 at 09:13 AM
Well, it *did* have a Starbucks planned in it after all <g><clueless></sarc> Let the profits from that pay for it. Birmingham Voters have spoken loud and clear - NO to a $21,000,000,000 tax increase!
Ray Hess May 09, 2014 at 09:14 AM


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