MLA’s “Primary Source” is an exclusive, first-hand account of the latest news and announcements from the staff of the Michigan Library Association.
February 23, 2023
Note From Debbie
For the past year, MLA has watched irresponsible and egregious legislation introduced in states like Texas, Florida, Missouri, and others, on libraries and book censorship. Yesterday, we acknowledged that we are not immune here in Michigan. 

A northern Michigan legislator from Charlevoix Co. Representative Neil Friske (R-107) introduced (with no co-sponsors) House Bill 4136 which would amend the Library Privacy Act and require local public libraries to locate all sexually explicit and obscene material (not defined) in a restricted area of the library and only be accessible to those 18 years or older. Any individual finding the library out of compliance could file a complaint against the governing body of the library in court. If the court finds the library has failed to comply, the court would require the library to close until the violation has been resolved.

MLA has been expecting to see bills of this nature (and we are sure we will see more as the censorship battles continue.) Let us reiterate what you all know…libraries do not and cannot have obscene materials on their shelves. This proposed legislation does little more than send a message to Rep. Friske’s supporters and is not actually meant to take real legislative action. We also know that public libraries do not take on the role of a parent and it is a parent’s responsibility to decide what materials they will allow their own children to read. With that said, MLA will continue to monitor these types of bills because threats against the freedom to read are something every one of us should take seriously. 

MLA’s Reader Group, a small sub-group of the MLA Advocacy and Legislative Committee, reads and analyzes bills that affect libraries and makes recommendations for support or opposition. The committee has been in communication today and will be meeting early next week to determine if a response is warranted.

As the new 102nd legislature begins its work, we also thought it best to make sure that you know the steps involved in getting a bill to the finish line – it is a long and arduous process. The first step in any legislative process is an introduction of a bill. That doesn’t mean a bill that is introduced will advance and we all know that a lot of bad legislation (like the one introduced by Rep. Friske) languishes before ever making it to the next step. MLA is careful where we put our time and resources as we do not want to expend political capital on something that will not move through the legislative process.
Deborah E. Mikula
Executive Director
ALA Councilor's Report
By Tashia Miller
ALA Councilor, MLA Board of Directors

At the 2023 LibLearnX (LLX) conference the ALA Council sessions were divided into a special session and two regular meetings. The special session focused on finalizing the language and recommendations of council members in the bylaws draft before it is put to vote by the general membership as the singular governance document. Several amendments and recommended changes were addressed by members of council regarding the language of the bylaws draft document. Read more
Get Involved! The 2023-2024 Call for Ambassadors is Open
The Call for Ambassador online signup for 2023-2024 workgroups and committees is now open! Applications are accepted through April 28, 2023. 

We invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to make a difference in the Michigan library community, develop your leadership skills, grow your network, and represent MLA. If you're interested in growing personally or professionally, we have a place for you!

All MLA members are eligible to volunteer for workgroups and committees.Nonmembers interested in volunteering are welcome to join MLA by filling out the online membership application or by contacting us at (517) 394-2774 or

Check out available opportunities to get involved on the web and complete the online ambassador application by Friday, April 28, 2023.

Questions? Save the date and plan to join us on Thursday, April 13, 2023, at 10:00 AM to learn more and chat with MLA staff, and workgroup and committee members about participating in the 2023-2024 member year. Watch for more information and a link to register soon!
Seeking Mentors! MLA Mentor Program Now Accepting Applications
The MLA Mentor Program is accepting applications for mentors or mentees for Spring 2023 Partnerships. Applications are accepted through Tuesday, February 28. Learn more about the program and apply at
Are you looking for new ways to develop professionally while connecting with other Michigan library workers? Are you an experienced librarian that wants to help build the future of the Michigan library community by sharing your expertise?

We invite you to be a part of the MLA Mentor program! If you’re a library science student, a new librarian, or a mid-career library staff member looking to advance or transition to a new position, consider registering as a mentee. And if you’re an experienced library professional, sign up as a mentor to help strengthen the field and share your insight with new and emerging library workers.

Mentee applications for spring partnerships are accepted through Tuesday, February 28. (Mentor applications are accepted year-round to be placed in our mentor pool.) If you’re an experienced library worker, please consider joining the Mentor Program today! MLA will match mentors and mentees in March for spring partnerships lasting April 1 through September 30, 2023.

Questions can be directed to Keeley Briggs, MLA Database Coordinator, at
MI Library Is NOW...
Help us continue to promote all Michigan libraries! It's easy to do! Just share some of the cool things your library is up to on social media: "MI Library is NOW… [fill in the blank]. Find your library at" Remember to tag your posts with #MILibraryisNOW!

Resources are available and free to use. Download graphics and more at
MLA 2023 Annual Conference Call for Proposals
The Michigan Library Association invites proposals for Breakout Sessions at the MLA 2023 Annual Conference to be presented in person, October 18 - 20, 2023, at the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo.

We are seeking Breakout Session proposals from emerging thinkers that relate to our theme, "Connecting the Dots”. We are looking for proposals that elevate the ideas of intellectual freedom, networking, equity, diversity, inclusion, collaboration, programming, management, and more. Submit your proposal and help us connect the dots between all library professionals.

This invitation extends to all library professionals and partners - from first-time to experienced presenters, as well as professional speakers and subject matter experts. Proposals are due Friday, May 12, 2023.
Using Your MLA Membership
Do I have to be a member to register for an MLA event? Is my library an MLA Organizational Member? Do I have an Individual MLA Membership?  Check out answers to MLA Member Account FAQs (pdf) and read on to make sure your membership profile is up to date!
Update Your Profile
Keep your member information up to date in our member portal. To access and update your individual member record, navigate to the Member Home page, log in, select "Go to Profile," then scroll down and select edit. Make sure to select “save” to update your changes!
View the Organizational Member Directory
Search the MLA Organizational Member Directory to view library organizational members of MLA. You can search by library name, address or zip or view all organizational members in alphabetical order. Need to update your library's info? Library directors can log in to their individual member profiles to access and update their library's organizational membership.
Organizational Members: Support Staff Wellbeing With HealthiestYou
Library Directors: HealthiestYou is a new affordable option for providing your library staff with access to free online healthcare!

What is HealthiestYou?
HealthiestYou is a healthcare service that offers convenient, confidential access to quality doctors and providers by phone, video, or app 24/7/365. To learn more, see a demo of the HealthiestYou app, get your questions answered, and get ready to enroll watch a recording of our informational session on YouTube.

Rates and Eligibility
HealthiestYou is available exclusively to MLA Organizational Members. The current rate for MLA Organizational Members that enroll in HealthiestYou is $12.75 per employee per month, paid by the employer. It renews annually after that. The plan can be segmented to full and/or part-time employees and includes access for their dependents. Plan set-up is simple and done all online. 

Ready to Enroll?   
Please contact Rachel Ash, MLA Membership and Communications Director at to confirm your library’s eligibility or to join MLA. Rachel will connect you with Corey Cushing to begin the enrollment process.  
A New Legislative Cycle Begins…A New MLA Bill Tracker. Check out MLA's Bill Tracker to view a full list of legislation that the Advocacy and Legislative Committee is watching.
Take Five Minutes Today to Build a Relationship With Your Legislators
Being a good library advocate means that you must first build good relationships and the first step to building a good relationship with your Michigan legislators is introducing yourself! 

We are asking all MLA members to TAKE 5! Take five minutes to email your State Senator and Representative and introduce yourself. Congratulate them on their election if they are new. Invite them to the library for a behind-the-scenes tour and introduce them to the library staff. If they don’t have a library card, invite them to come and sign up. Invite them to hold a coffee hour in your library. Invite them to read out loud during March is Reading Month. Invite them to your next program. Offer yourself/your organization or MLA as a resource for finding solutions to the issues that libraries face.

Please customize the email template! Share your library name and contact information. What program or initiative are you excited about at your library? How has your library helped your community? Share a personal story or anecdote about how your library is making an impact in the lives of Michiganders.

Make sure you edit our prewritten template before you hit send! Feel free to customize any part of your message, but please note the [****text****] areas must be edited in the email before you submit your message.

Don’t wait until issues and challenges arise before getting to know your House and Senate members. Today is the day to introduce yourselves.

We’ve made it easy…and it should only take five minutes! 

The 102nd Legislature Committee Assignments have been confirmed. If your legislator is on a committee it will be even more important to connect with them about the importance of libraries. House committees can be found here and Senate committees can be viewed here.
Governor Whitmer’s Budget Recommendation
On February 8, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released her fifth executive budget recommendation of $79 Billion that “will lower costs, grow Michigan’s economy, and build a brighter future for anyone who wants to call Michigan home.” The Governor and State Budget Director Christopher Harkins outlined the proposal to a joint session of the Senate and House Appropriations committees. 

As we have seen in years past, the budget for the Library of Michigan has essentially remained flat with only cost of living increases for staffing, and no increases for operations, services or the Michigan eLibrary. State Aid to Libraries also remains flat at $15,567,700. We hope that the Governor’s budget is the “floor” by which we will be able to work with our legislators to raise the “ceiling”.
We are encouraged to see $800,000 for the Library Pilot Project remaining in the Governor’s budget for the next two fiscal years. This partnership encourages school and public libraries to collaborate through grants of $10,000/per school facility. While only half of this amount was expended in the past fiscal year in three of the four counties identified for the pilot, we will be working to update the language to be more inclusive of additional counties to better align with continuing appropriations.

We are also awaiting word on the one-time appropriation of $100,000 that continues to be included in the Governor’s budget to name a Poet Laureate for Michigan that will be working with the Library of Michigan.

Funds outside of the Library of Michigan budget that we are also watching are $300 Million for tutoring through the MI Kids Back on Track program as well as the afterschool funding that included libraries as one of the eligible grantees last year. The recent FY Executive budget includes $25 million to support youth access to before, afterschool and summer learning programs. 

Photo credit: Michigan College Access Network
Letter to Legislators
Check out February's edition (PDF) of our monthly outreach to Michigan Legislators where we continue to educate them on the value of our libraries and the critical role of library staff. Our monthly letters include information on programs and services that libraries provide, education on library funding, the return on investment for our communities, stats and fun facts about library usage and more.
Intellectual Freedom Resources
The Michigan Library Association is a champion of access and actively advocates and educates in defense of intellectual freedom – the rights of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Intellectual freedom is a core value of the library profession and a basic right in our democratic society.

In 2022, MLA's Intellectual Freedom Task Force launched MI Right to Read to form a coalition of librarians and concerned citizens with a shared goal of proactively protecting intellectual freedom and the right to read, and responding to censorship attempts as well as misinformation about library practices in Michigan.

Visit today to join the coalition and take the pledge to protect every Michigander's right to read. Visit or click the links below for resources for library staff, educators, and board members.
Resources for library staff, educators, and board members.
Tips and templates for promoting intellectual freedom in your community.
Request support as you take action to protect First Amendment rights.
Registration is open for Michigan Library Advocacy Day! We will be gathering together in person at the Capitol in Lansing to advocate for all Michigan Libraries on April 25, 2023. THIS WILL BE A SOLD-OUT EVENT. Learn more and register at

On Tuesday, April 25, the Michigan library community will unite to amplify our collective voice in support of ALL Michigan libraries at our first in-person Michigan Library Advocacy Day in more than a decade.

Mark your calendars now, register today, and invite your colleagues, trustees, friends groups, and library supporters from your community to join us at the Capitol in Lansing for a day dedicated to advocating for libraries and celebrating the right to read!

Registration is only $25. Registrations received before 5:00 PM on April 3, 2023 will include an Advocacy Day t-shirt, a boxed lunch, and a custom agenda. MLA and our lobby firm will schedule a meeting between you and your legislator(s) or their staff if they are available.

You do not need to be a member of MLA to register to attend Advocacy Day. Registration is first come-first served and is limited to 125 attendees. THIS WILL BE A SOLD-OUT EVENT.
Michigan Library Advocacy Day Partner and Sponsor Opportunities
Is your organization interested in supporting Michigan Library Advocacy Day? Partnerships and sponsorships are available! View complete details at

Partnership Opportunities
Library Association Partner - $250
We invite other library associations, schools and consortia in Michigan to join us as Library Association Partners for only $250!

Independent Bookstore Partner - FREE
Independent bookstores around the state of Michigan are also invited to participate in the Read-In on the Capitol Steps.

For an optional fee of $50, independent bookstores can include their logo on Read-In seat cushions that will be provided to attendees. Ad space is limited and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sponsorship Opportunities
Sponsorship opportunities are also available, including morning coffee and networking, lunch, and the afternoon reception at GCSI.

For questions about partnering with MLA or sponsoring Michigan Library Advocacy Day, please contact Debbie Mikula at dmikula@milibraries for further details.
READ-IN ON THE CAPITOL STEPS For the Love of Reading
For the Love of Reading, join the Michigan library community and readers from all over Michigan against the backdrop of our beautiful state Capitol in Lansing as we express our shared love of books and libraries, and celebrate our right to read.

Bring your favorite book and take a seat on the steps of the Capitol anytime between 1:00 and 3:00 PM!

Anyone and everyone is invited to attend the Read-In! Independent Bookstores throughout Michigan are partnering with us to get the word out to advocates. No registration is required for this event, and we hope all libraries and bookstores will encourage their patrons to come to Lansing to help celebrate their love of books and libraries. No signs, no demonstrations, no political agenda, just a celebration of your love of reading your favorite book.
Spring Institute Early Bird Rates Expire Tomorrow!
Spring Institute for Youth Services 2023 is in person March 30-31, 2023 at the Ann Arbor Sheraton Hotel. Attendee registration is open!
You're invited to join the Michigan library community at Spring Institute for Youth Services 2023, March 30-31 at the Sheraton Hotel in Ann Arbor. This year, the conference theme is Sustaining Our Future. Join us as we highlight all the ways we are working to protect books, communities and relationships. 

Early Bird Rates expire TOMORROW Friday, February 24, 2023. Full conference early-bird registration is only $250 for MLA individual members and includes all meals and events.

Location and Hotel
3200 Boardwalk Street
Ann Arbor, MI, 48108
(734) 996-0600

Reserve your room before March 1, 2023 to receive the MLA discounted rate of $139 plus tax, per night. Please note, to receive the discounted rate you must call the hotel and identify yourself as part of the MLA Spring Institute.
Keynote Speakers
We are pleased to welcome award-winning author Kyle Lukoff as our opening keynote speaker and pediatrician Dr. Dipesh Navsaria as our Friday morning keynote speaker.
Health and Safety Guidelines
We ask you to be courteous and conscientious of others while meeting in person at MLA events, especially when it comes to health and safety. View our updated Health and Safety Guidelines for Spring Institute 2023 including COVID-19 procedures and vaccination requirements and new guidance around common allergens. 
Sponsor Spring Institute
MLA Spring Institute for Youth Services Sustaining Our Future is your opportunity to support the Michigan library community! Exhibit space has sold out but sponsorships are still available.

We have opportunities for every budget that help promote your organization to the Michigan library community. Check out available sponsorship opportunities online and sign up today using our online form.

Contact Amber Sheerin, MLA Program and Event Director at (517) 881-3194 or to learn more about sponsoring Spring Institute for Youth Services 2023 or MLA 2023 Annual Conference. Download the Spring Institute Vendor Prospectus (pdf).
February Advocacy Hour: Censorship and the First Amendment
Thursday, March 16, 2023
***9:00 - 10:00 AM

We are pleased to welcome constitutional expert and U of M Law professor Len Niehoff as our March Advocacy Hour guest speaker. Join us at 9:00 AM on Thursday, March 16 to learn more about the First Amendment and intellectual freedom. Len will share his expertise on the First Amendment, history of banned books and predictions for the future, followed by time for audience Q&A.

Advocacy Hour conversations are always free to attend but registration is required.
Guest Speaker
Len Niehoff serves as Professor from Practice at the University of Michigan Law School, where he teaches courses in civil procedure, ethics, evidence, First Amendment, law & theology, and media law. He is the author of more than one hundred publications in these fields. He is also Of Counsel to Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn, where he helps lead the firm’s appellate, higher education, and media law practices. He has been quoted as an expert on various legal issues by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, the Atlantic, Voice of America, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Intercept, the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, and other major media entities. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.
Upcoming MLA Connect Webinars
Check out the 2023 MLA Connect lineup! Visit us on the web to register now or save the date for upcoming programs!
Mental Health and Well-Being: Dealing with Difficult Patrons
March 14, 2023
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Library workers on the front lines have faced mounting challenges over the last few years. How have you been able to manage? How does a trauma-informed approach impact this work?

Dr. Abigail L. Phillips from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will uncover the impacts of the pandemic on library staff and how tough interactions and the demands of the job can contribute to burnout and offer suggestions and strategies that staff and library leaders can use to be proactive about the future. Participants will learn how the Kalamazoo Public Library (KPL) used a trauma-informed approach to their code of conduct, incident reporting system, supervisor follow-up, suspension guidelines, and security guard onboarding. Since making these changes, KPL staff have self-reported that adverse interactions with patrons have become less severe.

MLA Connect webinars are only $25 for MLA members!
Abigail L. Phillips
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Kevin King
Kalamazoo Public Library
Now Available On-Demand
Check out the MLA Connect On Demand virtual education platform! MLA members have access to dozens of virtual programs and sessions on a wide variety of topics, all available to view on-demand. To view available programs, visit MLA Connect On Demand, browse the archives, and log in with your MLA individual login credentials.
Do you have news you want to share? Contact Lisa Buttigieg at to share news of promotions, new hires, appointments, awards or a tribute in memoriam.
On the Move
The Chesterfield Township Library welcomes new director, Eric Magness-Eubank. Wishing you great success in your new position, Eric!
Congratulations to Stephanie Fair who has been appointed the new Assistant Director of the St. Clair Shores Public Library. All the best to you in your new role, Stephanie!
The Ojibwa Community Library welcomes Dawn Browning as their new Tribal Librarian. Congratulations to you, Dawn!
Capital Area District Libraries welcomes Sophie Steiner as their new systems administrator! All the best in your new role, Sophie!
Advertise on MLA’s Job Board
Members receive deep discounts on job postings through the MLA Job Board. Learn more here. In March we are excited to unveil our new Job Board! The new platform is simple and intuitive to use for both employers and job seekers alike. Watch for more details in March. Note, current and new job posts on our current platform will be automatically updated and available on the new Job Board.
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts – Kalamazoo, MI

Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI

City of Livonia – Livonia, MI

Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI

View these jobs and more at the MLA Career Center.
Rates and Registration | 2023 ALA Annual Conference &...

If you'd like to register a group, ALA is offering a Register 5 People and get 1 Free Registration option. To register a group, begin by signing in with the first person you'd like to register, then check the "Add Another" button on the Review...

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Series of Comprehensive History Webinars

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) identifies teaching comprehensive history as an important effort supporting Michigan's Top 10 Strategic Education Plan. An essential part of MDE's efforts to improve comprehensive history instruction is...

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Bridging Michigan Grants | Michigan Humanities

Bridging Michigan grants provide Michigan nonprofits with up to $2,500 in support of public humanities programming that sparks in-depth thinking and conversation around persistent challenges affecting our communities. We welcome projects that aim ...

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Michigan Arts and Culture Council Grants

The Michigan Arts and Culture Council (MACC) coordinates grants to arts and culture organizations, cities and municipalities, and other nonprofit organizations ensuring that every citizen and community in Michigan enjoys the civic, economic and...

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FINRA Foundation Library Grants Program

Application deadline: March 1, 2023 Purpose: This grant program supports public libraries and academic libraries in their efforts to meet financial and/or investor education needs at the community level by providing high-quality education,...

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Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities
Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities will offer more than $7 million in grants to small and rural libraries to increase the accessibility of facilities, services, and programs to better serve people with disabilities. To be eligible, a library must have a legal service area population of 25,000 or less and be located at least five miles from an urbanized area, in keeping with Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) definitions of small and rural libraries. Applications are due February 28, 2023.
Fight Censorship
With the severe uptick in local and statewide book challenges, ALA offers this clearinghouse of resources to assist library workers and library advocates in responding to and supporting others facing those challenges. Report challenges to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, and let ALA know if you need assistance.
 Don't keep this great resource to yourself!
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Connect on Social Media
Connect with MLA on social media! Like and Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest real-time updates from MLA staff, library news, inspirational and educational posts and more! We also ask that you share this invitation with friends and help us extend our reach so important advocacy updates and calls to action are heard by library supporters throughout the state.
Uniting the Michigan Library Community
MLA is proud to partner with organizations serving the library community.