MLA Board and Staff. Back row pictured left to right: Amber Sheerin, Steven Bowers, Randy Riley, Scott Duimstra, Jennifer Dean, Lisa Buttigieg, Kristin Shelley, Ryan Wieber. Front row pictured left to right: Julia Eisenstein, Debbie Mikula, Richard Schneider, Karen Knox, Rachel Ash, Pamela Christensen, Romy Fitschen.
MLA’s “Primary Source” is an exclusive, first-hand account of the latest news and announcements from the staff of the Michigan Library Association.
December 19, 2019
President’s Update
The end of the calendar year always makes me pause and reflect on the many things that happened over the year, both good and not so good. As 2019 comes to an end, I am reflective on the accomplishments of the Michigan Library Association. It has been a productive and active year for MLA with new staff coming on board including Executive Director, Debbie Mikula, Program and Event Director Amber Sheerin and Administrative Assistant Lisa Buttigieg; the passing of the Narcan bill; adoption of the diversity statement; a successful Spring Institute and Annual Conference; and the start of the development of a new strategic plan for the organization. My sincerest thanks goes to the MLA staff, Board, committees and work groups who made all these great projects and events, and so much more, happen for Michigan libraries.
May your days be merry and bright! We would like to wish the entire library community a peaceful and joyous holiday season and a happy new year! MLA will be closed for the holidays from Tuesday, December 24 through Wednesday, January 1.
Support MLA with Year-end Giving
U niting Michigan libraries is our primary focus at MLA. We believe that we are stronger together and
N ow more than ever, we recognize how our collective impact is making a difference
I n communities throughout Michigan. From Ironwood to Detroit, Grand Rapids to Midland,
T raverse City to Southfield, and all places in between, MLA is working to help library professionals
I n each of these communities succeed through advocacy, professional development, education and
N etworking. We know how important the entire library community is to you and at this time of
G iving, we hope you might consider a year-end gift to MLA to keep our programming strong.

M LA is the oldest and largest library association in Michigan with more than 1700 members. We
I nvest our time and resources to build the capacity of you, our members, to make sure that you
C an accomplish all you need to in the libraries that you serve. I love all the wonderful stories that
H ave come across my desk of the impact and importance that MLA has had on all types of libraries,
I n all corners of the state. I am sure you have benefited from the programs and services that allow us to
G ather together to exchange ideas, share insights on state and national trends that truly make
A n impact on library challenges. MLA is here to advocate on your behalf and to make sure that your
N eeds are being met every day.
L ibraries are the cornerstones and anchors of our communities. Your continued support of MLA
I s crucial to our efforts in expanding and increasing the work we do with you to move the needle and
B ring clarity within the life cycles of those you serve - students, community leaders, businesses,
R esidents and families. Your financial support will help make sure MLA’s efforts go even further to
A ddress the challenges that our libraries face, protect and advocate for library values, and find solutions
R egarding stabilizing and protecting the funding so crucial to our survival. With your support, we will make an
I mmediate statewide impact. There are four ways to give a year-end gift and your generous donation will
E nsure that MLA is well positioned as the future unfolds. As the holidays approach, the MLA Staff and Board
S end season’s greetings and hope that the new year brings much happiness to you and your family.
There are four ways to give!
Check payable to Michigan Library Association
Credit/Debit by calling our office at (517)394-2774
Donate online at or
Text "GIVEMLA to 44-321"
Changes to MLA Youth Literary Awards
Our youth literary award work groups spend thousands of hours reading, reviewing and discussing hundreds of books each year to determine the best books for youth. We've been working on a plan to bring more publicity and recognition to our youth literary awards and the amazing work our work groups do each year.
Beginning in 2020, we will be announcing our winners and honor books at our Spring Institute for Youth Services Conference, rather than waiting for our annual conference in the fall. We believe this is the best venue for celebrating our award winners and honor books.
We will be announcing our top ten titles for the Mitten , YouPer and Thumbs Up! Awards in February with resources and ideas for fun promotions as we observe the countdown to unveiling our winners at an event during Spring Institute, scheduled for March 19-20 in Ann Arbor.
Mentor Program Accepting Applications
Applications for mentors or mentees accepted through January 10, 2020. Learn more about the program and apply at
The MLA Mentor Program is a trusted resource for emerging professionals and leaders to foster bidirectional professional development and growth. We are excited to announce a newly redesigned mentorship program for 2020 that will increase the impact and engagement of mentors and mentees throughout the state.

The new program will create structured relationships that last for six months and provide mentors and mentees with a cohort of others at similar places within their careers. Participants will set their own goals and objectives, and MLA will provide resources beneficial to both parties.

Applications will be accepted through January 10, 2020 and the program will launch in March 2020. We invite you to be a part of this free benefit to MLA membership. You never know where it might take you. For more information, c ontact MLA Program and Event Director Amber Sheerin at [email protected]
2020 Michigan Author Award Call for Nominations
The nomination period for the annual Michigan Author Award is now open!
The Michigan Author Award was established with the intention of recognizing significant Michigan authors with a lifetime achievement award. Over the years, the award has been given to a diverse collection of writers working in a variety of genres and styles. A panel of judges representing MLA, Library of Michigan and Center for the Book determine the recipient on overall literary merit.
Anyone is eligible to submit a nomination. Help us recognize an author who has made a significant contribution to Michigan's literary heritage. Submit your nomination and supporting materials through the MLA website using the online form.
The nomination deadline is February 28, 2020. Visit the MLA website or download the criteria and guidelines (pdf) for more information. Questions? Please contact Rachel Ash, Director of Membership, Communications & Marketing at [email protected] or (517) 394-2774, ext. 225.
Updated MLA Website
The MLA website template and navigation have been updated for a more visually appealing and easy to navigate site. Visit us at to check out the new design.
Update on MLA’s Work to Address Changes to the Michigan Library Privacy Act
Since the introduction of SB611 by Senator Peter MacGregor on October 29, MLA has been gathering input from library directors, deans and others about support and concern on the proposed changes. MLA believes that library privacy is a core value to librarianship and any changes to the Privacy Act should be vetted through the proper channels. This bill was introduced without MLA input. MLA has taken the past 45 days to gather your thoughts and try to find a way to find compromises to the concerns that you’ve brought to our attention in order to get the best possible changes in front of Senator MacGregor by mid-January when it is expected to move forward in the legislative process. 

Please Note: MLA values all voices being heard, all possible solutions being vetted, and that we hope to contribute to a final bill that libraries throughout the state feel is in their best interest and can support. 
The MLA Legislative Committee ended their last meeting recommending a small sub-group, who represent both sides, come together face-to-face, to converse and try to build consensus by adding, strengthening and editing language that takes into account the concerns we’ve documented. Along with MLA staff and Governmental Consultant Services, Inc. (GCSI) representative, Bob DeVries, those present included Lance Werner (Kent District Library), Larry Neal (Clinton-Macomb District Library), Jenny Marr (Ferndale Public Library), Julia Eisenstein (University of Detroit Mercy), Randy Riley (Library of Michigan), Clare Membiela (Library of Michigan), Josie Parker (Ann Arbor District Library), and Anne Seurynck (Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith, PC).

Issues/concerns with the bill that the sub-committee discussed at length included:
  • Definition of a Crime
  • The May/Shall Not – in the updated language the burden would fall on the library director to decide or not decide to hand over library records
  • Reading and circulation history of patrons
  • Surveillance videos – are they a patron record
  • No reference to Third Party Vendors being held to the same standard on privacy rights
  • Removal of personal liability of library personnel who make the decision
We are working with Anne Seurynck on recommended changes to the bill language. MLA will use our newly defined legislative guidelines for recommendations to move it forward through the MLA Advocacy & Legislative Committee and MLA Board for a decision that we will share with the membership as soon as we have something concrete. We will then take the updates to Senator MacGregor and reiterate the importance of all libraries having a voice in something that affects them all on a daily basis.

If you would like to have a conversation, please do not hesitate to contact Executive Director, Deborah E. Mikula at [email protected] or by phone at (517)394-2774 ext. 224.
Cultural Advocacy Network of Michigan (CAN)
For the past five months, MLA has been involved in the formation of a new organization, the Cultural Advocacy Network of Michigan (CAN). This new initiative was started by the leaders of eight statewide cultural organizations, including the Michigan Library Association, Historical Society of Michigan, Michigan Museums Association, Michigan Presenters Network, Michigan Festivals and Events Association, Michigan Youth Arts, Michigan Historic Preservation Network and the Michigan Humanities. We are actively pursuing a number of other statewide cultural entities to join us as well.
With the demise of Creative Many Michigan last June, there wasn’t an organization on the front line advocating for all cultural activities in Michigan in the interests of funding for arts and cultural activities through the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. CAN is designed to fill that space, making sure that there is a voice in Lansing and around the state that is looking out for cultural organizations, which represent the quality of life in every community throughout Michigan. MLA member libraries are a huge part of this landscape, and as we well know, serve as anchors of their communities and contribute to this quality of life that all residents throughout our state enjoy. 

In coming together, these organizations have recognized their common goals and shared programming to make our communities thriving and dynamic places to live, work and visit. Our mission:

The Cultural Advocacy Network of Michigan will strive to bring a collective voice for cultural organizations in Michigan. The organization will lead advocacy and education​ efforts to influence decision making at the highest levels of state and local government​ and ensure that cultural leaders have the tools they need to deliver the highest quality of​ service for the individuals they serve.​

This new 501(c)4 nonprofit organization is just getting started and we promise to keep you tuned in as the future unfolds.
MLA Board Approves New Guidelines for Legislative Committee Processes
At the last MLA Board Meeting, the Board voted to approve new guidelines for the MLA Legislative Committee that clarify and outline steps for evaluating and approving official MLA legislative action. The new guidelines are attached here.
State Budget Update
From Representative Sarah Anthony’s December newsletter
 Governor Whitmer signed our state’s budget into law on October 1, 2019—the first day of the fiscal year. She then utilized her executive powers (the line-item veto and administrative board transfer) to cut and re-appropriate funding as she deemed necessary. We all gave a huge sigh of relief in knowing that state aid to libraries was not impacted, remaining at FY2019 levels.  While the budget was not complete, approval by the Governor did prevent a government shutdown and ensured government departments and schools were able to move forward.

Last week, legislative leadership reached an agreement with Governor Whitmer to restore $573.5 million in critical investments in infrastructure, education and clean water protection. The Legislature passed two supplemental budget bills (Senate Bills 152 and 154 ) and a Legislative Transfer Package to restore funding that Governor Whitmer vetoed or transferred through the State Administrative Board. Passed along with the supplementals were House Bills 4336 and 4574 —legislation to grant the state Auditor General additional access to certain executive documents. 
Also presented to the Governor were House Bills 5176 and 5177 —the final language of the bill would require the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to approve a legislative transfer request from the State Budget Director within a set time period, and to compel the Legislature to present a budget plan to the Governor by July 1. To the best of our knowledge, the House and the Senate are not scheduled to vote on any more supplementals between now and the end of the 2019 calendar year.
Congress Works to Fully Fund Federal Government Ahead of Deadline
Great news! On December 16, the United States Congress reached an agreement to pass two comprehensive appropriations packages containing all 12 appropriations measures to complete funding for the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020) process to avoid a government shutdown on December 20.

How will this affect libraries? Increases for library and cultural funding include:

  • Institute for Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) $10 million
  • Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) $6 million
  • Title IV $50 million
  • Comprehensive Literacy Grants $2 million
  • Library of Congress (LOC) $29 million
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) $7.25 million
  • National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) $7.25 million
  • National Library of Medicine (NLM) $15 million
  • Innovative Approaches to Literacy through the Dept. of Education (IAL) Event

These advocacy wins are a direct result of years of grassroots outreach through a comprehensive network of local, state and national leaders' and partners' efforts. Thank you to all who communicated through letters, phone calls and in person with legislators, made trips to Washington DC for Advocacy Days, and did all in their power to exude the values and importance of libraries. Our voices have been heard and these significant increases are due in large part to your efforts.
MLA 2020 Annual Conference Keynote Confirmed
The MLA 2020 Annual Conference work group has been hard at work planning for the premier annual education and networking event for library staff in Michigan. MLA 2020 is scheduled for October 27-30, 2020 in Kalamazoo, Michigan and will feature novelist and musician Wesley Stace as our Thursday keynote speaker and MC of our new Statewide Annual Library Awards Gala!

Wesley Stace was born in Hastings, Sussex, in 1965, and educated at the King’s School, Canterbury, and Jesus College, Cambridge. He released 17 albums under the name John Wesley Harding. His most recent album, Self-Titled, for which he returned to his given name, was released by Yep Roc in 2013. He has also published four novels.

His first novel, the international bestseller Misfortune, was published to great acclaim in 2004. It was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, listed as one of the books of the year in the Washington Post and the Boston Phoenix, and was one of Amazon’s Top Ten Novels of the Year. His second, By George, (2007) was one of the New York Public Library’s Books to Remember of 2007, and Booklist Editor’s Choice for books of the year. His third, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, (2010) was called “the most confident musical fiction I have read in years” (New Statesman), and an “Inventive black comedy unfolding with Nabokovian precision” (Financial Times). His fourth novel, Wonderkid, is being optioned by NBC/Universal to be developed as a sitcom.
MLA Advocacy Day
Join MLA and hundreds of library advocates from around Michigan on April 22, 2020 in Lansing! Attendees will attend a half-day of   advocacy training in the morning   to learn the latest research and legislative priorities from the experts. The afternoon will be dedicated to “meet and greets” when advocates take their passion, knowledge, and stories to the state Capitol for meetings with their congressional leaders to underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased funding for libraries throughout Michigan.

M ark your calendars – APRIL 22, 2020 – and join MLA and hundreds of library advocates from around Michigan at the Cooley Law School, located just one block from the Capitol.

We are pleased to announce those who will be leading the charge:
Partner With us at Spring Institute for Youth Services: People First
Sponsor and exhibitor registration is open! Download the vendor prospectus or visit us on the web to view details and sign up as a conference sponsor, exhibitor or program book advertiser using the online form. Support our libraries by sharing the invitation to partner with us with your vendors! More than 200 youth services library staff attend Spring Institute every year. Don't miss this great opportunity to network with library professionals from all across Michigan.
It's Not Too Late to Register for Leadership Academy!
March 3-4, 2020 - Auburn Hills
May 11, 2020 - Grand Rapids
August 7, 2020 - Lansing
October 27-28, 2020 - Kalamazoo

Leadership Academy is one of MLA’s longest-standing and most respected professional development programs with alumni in all corners of the state. Don’t miss your opportunity to join the 2020 cohort. Registration won’t open again until 2021!
Financial Assistance for Leadership Academy
The Library of Michigan offers the Library Continuing Education Program to provide continuing education stipends to public, academic and school library staff.
Applicants could receive $900 stipends toward the program, and additional travel support of $150 is available for attendees traveling more than 150 miles to the event. Applications are due the last business day in December. Learn more about Library Continuing Education Program and apply online.
Call for Webinar Proposals
Do you have a great presentation idea that you think would be beneficial to MLA members? Would you like to share your knowledge in a particular subject area? If so, we invite you to submit a webinar proposal. We want to hear from you!

Whether you are a veteran webinar presenter or new to this delivery method, MLA staff will work with you to schedule your event and get your message out to a wider statewide audience. Webinars will be scheduled to take place throughout 2020 covering general, intermediate, and advanced level subject matter. Proposals are due by January 31, 2020. Visit our website for more information and submit a webinar proposal using the online form.
Save the Date
Spring Workshops and Spring Institute for Youth Services Registration to Open in January
Volunteer work groups have been planning and prepping since June for 2020 spring events. Visit the MLA website event list and mark your calendar now for these upcoming educational opportunities. Registration will open in January 2020.
March 19-20, 2020 - Ann Arbor

April 3, 2020 - Flint

April 20, 2020 - Jackson

April 22, 2020 - Lansing

May 1, 2020 - Traverse City

May 15, 2020 - Midland

May 29, 2020 - Southfield

October 28-30, 2020 - Kalamazoo
Do you have news you want to share? Contact Lisa Buttigieg at [email protected] to share news of promotions, new hires, appointments, awards or a tribute in memoriam.
New Directors
Kudos and Awards
In Memorium
View these jobs and more at the MLA Career Center.
Have a job to post? Members receive deep discounts on job postings through the MLA Career Center job board. Learn more here.

Leanna Hicks Public Library Inkster, MI

Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS) Lansing, MI

DALNET Detroit, MI

College for Creative Studies Detroit, MI
Connect on Social Media
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