Library closes after 51 years

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Sharon Haynes (right) returns some DVDs to Snow Branch Library Thursday, as Department Specialist Amy Stenger works the counter. The library closed the next day after budget cuts forced it to shut its doors for good after more than 50 years.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – As tough budget decisions continue to affect the city, the Snow Brach Library, which opened in 1960, became the latest casualty, shutting its doors for good Friday.

In a statement released Aug. 30, city spokeswoman Mary Laundroche said the closing is another result of the city’s attempts to eliminate a $20 million general fund deficit.

The other three branches of the Dearborn Public Libraries, Henry Ford Centennial Library, Bryant Branch Library and Esper Branch Library, will remain open.

In the release, Laundroche said that because of a reciprocal borrowing agreement between the city and Dearborn Heights that took effect March 1, residents can also use Caroline Kennedy Library and John F. Kennedy Jr. Library in Dearborn Heights.

Dearborn Public Libraries Director Maryanne Bartles, who spent 10 years as the supervisor at Snow Branch Library, said the closing is sad for everyone, including residents who live nearby.

“It certainly is not something to rejoice in,” she said. “But given our financial situation, it was our only recourse.”

Bartles said the closing is the result of many attempts to save the library, including the reduction of full-time staff by about 45 percent since 2001. That, coupled with the decline in property values, proved to be too much, she said.

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve been trying to realign and consolidate, but in the end it wasn’t quite enough,” she said. “The fact is that with all those cuts we could manage to keep four buildings open was nothing short of a miracle.”

She said the administration will try to find vacant positions in the other libraries for the staff, comprised of five part-time employees and one full-time staff member, librarian Cathy Gauthier.

She said ideas for the building, such as selling it, have been discussed, but nothing has been settled yet.

The Snow Branch Library’s return box will remain open until the end of September for anyone needing to return books and DVDs.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at