David Diller, Library Director
Janette Berkshire, Assistant Librarian
David Ulrich, Public Services
Maryellen Paull, Program Coordinator
The GLCL serves residents of Empire, Glen Arbor, and Kasson Township. It is a Michigan Class 1 library, with an official district population of 3650. This includes many seasonal residents and summer visitors. Our operations are funded primarily by a property tax assessment levied in the service district. For the coming year, this rate is set at 0.30 mills, which generates 90% of our total operating income. This millage will fund operations through 2026.
The library is a member of the Mid Michigan Library League, which provides support for interlibrary loan, technology assistance, professional development, and library advocacy.
The Glen Lake Community Library (GLCL) was established in 1977 to serve Empire and Glen Arbor Townships. Its first home was a small rented building at the corner of Front and Union streets in Empire. In 1979, Kasson Township joined the library’s service district.
1982: Community leaders came up with a plan to purchase the old Empire Fire Hall, secure a rent-free, renewable lease from the Village of Empire, and launched a fundraising campaign to redevelop the 1,500 square foot building, more than doubling the size of the old library.
1996: A successful 20-year property tax millage supported by all three townships provided funding to further expand the library to 3,000 square feet. The new wing included a small meeting room, public access computers, an office, and additional shelf space for the library’s growing collection. Hours of operation were expanded, and the library was open six days a week. In 1997, the library’s first full-time director, David Diller, was hired.
Over the next 20 years, usage of the library steadily increased, with more services, programs, and an ever-expanding book and media collections. During this period, several generous bequests from local benefactors provided the beginning of an endowment fund for future needs. As usage of the library increased, the limits of the existing building became more apparent.
2013: An adjacent residence became available and the library was able to purchase it using the endowment fund. Now the GLCL was to begin planning in earnest for future expansion. In 2014 the Board of Trustees and library staff developed a long-range plan, which confirmed that additional and enhanced space was needed for the library to continue its development.
2016: a 0.28 operating millage proposal was overwhelmingly supported by voters in all three townships. Community surveys and visioning sessions gathered valuable feedback about the future of the library. A professional assessment of the library facility needs was conducted. Quinn Evans Architects were selected to lead the design of the new building. An exciting new exterior and floor plan was developed, incorporating an expanded children’s area, quiet reading lounge enhanced with a fireplace, study rooms, work desks, expanded public computer and WiFi access, and a spacious program room for library and community events.
2018: A volunteer-led Capital Campaign was launched, with an ambitious goal of raising the needed $1.758 million needed for the new facility. Gifts from more than 450 donors, local government, and charitable foundations met that goal in less than a year, allowing construction to begin in April 2019. Essential library operations were relocated to a rented building, affectionately dubbed the “Limebrary”, due to its vivid green exterior. This cozy space would be the library’s “home away from home” for the next 16 months.
2020: The COVID pandemic temporarily halted construction activities in March, and also required the library to close to the public for 3 months. During this period, library staff continued to make materials available for curbside pickup, while finalizing preparations for operations in the new facility. In August 2020, the Limebrary closed, and the move back to the expanded and renovated facility began. Additional staff members were hired to help manage the expanded facility. The new GLCL opened its doors to the public on September 8, 2020. Since then, the library has remained open during the evolving pandemic, observing all appropriate public health measures, while welcoming patrons both old and new.
Summer 2021: Usage of the library continues to increase, and with public gathering restrictions now eased, our community study, work and meeting spaces are well-used. Weekly summer children’s programs have returned, with many more programs under development for the fall and beyond. With voter approval of a millage proposal on August 3 (.30 mils for 5 years) the library is on solid financial ground, ready to continue expanding its services for the Glen Lake area.