Snapshot of Library of Michigan History

The first state library was created in 1828 with an annual appropriation of $650, which remained constant during the territorial period. One month after Michigan became a state in 1837, the former territorial council library became the State Library and Oren Marsh was appointed the first state librarian.

The State Library opened to the public in 1880. In 1885, the Michigan Legislature established The Library of Michigan to guarantee the people of the State of Michigan and their government one perpetual institution to collect and preserve Michigan publications, conduct reference and research and support libraries statewide. The first native Michiganian, Mary Clair Wilson was appointed State Librarian in 1893 and was reappointed nine times. The very popular traveling libraries program was started in 1895 providing statewide library service for all Michigan residents. (Was this initiative a precursor of MelCat and MeL which provide access to all statewide?)

1941 – 2017

Loleta I. Dawsaon Fyan became the first academically trained professional librarian to head the State Library. Ms. Fyan served as State Librarian from 1941 to 1961. Ms. Fyan was noted for extending library service to rural areas in Michigan, for her concern for the professional development of librarians, and for the development of the Library of Michgan as a cultural center. The Foundation maintains the Fyan Endowment in Loleta’s name and makes grants that sup[port professional workshops for Michigan librarians, by funding scholarships for librarians to attend profession development courses and for the development of the Library of Michigan as a cultural center for the State. The Rural Library Conference which is held biannually is supported by the Library of Michigan Fyan Endowment and enables Librarians in rural and out-state areas to _______________________________________.

In 1951, a fire in the State Office Building where the State Library was housed destroyed 20,000 books and damaged 30,000 more. It wasn’t until 1988 when the Michigan Library and Historical Center opened that the Library was able to merge its dispersed collection in one place by tripling the size of the Library’s building.

In 1985, Governor Blanchard, followed by Governor Engler envisioned and inspired d the formation of a private foundation to secure funds to support the Library’s priority programs, services and collections. This private foundation was to fill in funding gaps for Library needs where governmental funding was absent. This was the creation of the Library of Michigan Foundation which to date has raised over $6,000,000 for the Library of Michigan.

In the early 1990’s, the Library began initiatives to expand its service with technology and online public access. This developed into MeL and MeLCat, a 24/7 electronic library to serve all Michigan residents free of charge with easy access.

2003 saw the construction and opening of the Martha W. Griffiths Michigan Rare Book Room thanks to generous donations from many Foundation donors to honor the memory and contributions of former Lt. Governor Martha Griffiths.

Randy Riley currently services as State Librarian. Under Randy Riley’s leadership, programs such as Ready to Read Michigan, Michigan Notable Books and the Michigan  eLibrary have grown to serve countless of Michigan residents yearly.