Protecting SJCPL Libraries = Strong & Engaged Communities

Text of a letter I just emailed:

Dear South Bend Common Council –

I was born and raised in Mishawaka and worked as a librarian at SJCPL for 15 years – 1991 – 2006. We saw the internet and Web come in and change information services. The library leveraged this to become on of the best in the nation. I have since moved on to be an Associate Professor at the School of Information at San Jose State University but I often check in on my home library. I was saddened to hear about the plan to modify LIT. I would urge you all to reconsider this plan.

“The Library is a growing organism” is a foundational tenet of librarianship and I believe SJCPL continues to explore how best to serve citizens in its service area with improved and expanded spaces, recreational experiences and opportunities to learn for all ages. This is how libraries grow and how they help grow communities. The purpose of the public library is to preserve the integrity of civilization. In the past few years there has been a pronounced shift from libraries as book warehouses to multi-faceted information organizations, serving as centers for discovery, learning, and experience.  These places are called libraries. They will always provide access to the world’s knowledge, in whatever container available, but space for sharing and exchange of ideas is becoming just as important as shelves of books. A librarian who helped design an award winning public library in Aarhus, Denmark, once told me: “Libraries should be built for people” with books being one part of what the public library does.

SJCPL has long practiced these ideals and the renovation of Main is proof of this. The fact that a branch library could close as a result of modifying LIT detracts from the important evolution SJCPL is undertaking.  I truly believe libraries can be the center of a community, offering a place to access to materials and information, a place to gather with others to learn, and a place that promotes curiosity, happiness, and the well being of those who make use of its services. Please consider the positive outcomes of not redistributing LIT.  SJCPL should continue to grow as a library system that will expand minds and craft futures for years to come.

Thank you –
Michael Stephens


In St. Joseph County, there is a proposal (Resolution # R7-19) before County and City governments to shift over $8m dollars out of the local income tax rate.

This proposed shift will equal half a million dollars in lost revenue for the Library in 2020 and every year thereafter. For the St. Joseph County Public Library, half a million dollars is equal to one of our neighborhood branches – LaSalle, River Park, Tutt or Western.

On Thursday, September 5, there will be a meeting of all the elected bodies to discuss the proposed tax change. We want to make a strong show of support at this meeting where we’ll get the eyes of the Common Council, County Council, and Mishawaka City Council, as well as the County Commissioners and mayors. We have not yet been invited to participate but we’ll be there.

Please be there with us.

We’ll be closing all SJCPL locations at 5 pm for a Night Without Libraries. At 5:15 pm, we’ll leave the Main Library to walk to the County City Building for the 6 pm meeting.
We want our friends and our supporters with us. We want to fill the Council Chambers and the halls on the 4th floor of the County City Building. Bring a book and walk with us in support of your local libraries.

Public Libraries in St. Joseph County need your help. Act now: