Wednesday, February 28, 2007

City, Library and Museums Association Ink Big Deals

The city of Springfield and the Springfield Library and Museums Association put ink to parchment yesterday afternoon, signing four contracts that will define the two entities' relationship for years to come.

City government, libraries, contracts. Ho hum. Boring.

Ah... not so!

A couple of interesting developments that spring from the agreements ought to get people talking a bit.

One - and this is my favorite - is making entry to the museums free to city residents in possession of a soon-to-be-available 'museum access card,' special exhibits excluded, per order of the museum services agreement between the city and the SLMA. Waxing nostalgic, I remember when the museums were free to all, with donation boxes strategically placed in the foyer of each building.

Of course, nothing is truly free. The 'museum services fee' that the city pays to the SLMA will increase by $200,ooo yearly, from the current $1.1 million annually to $1.3 million. The increase is a small chunk of change per annum when one considers the next interesting development in the new museum service agreement. One of the intentions of the 25-year agreement - which still must meet the approval of the city council and then the state legislature - is that ownership of the branch libraries and their collections, and the main branch's contents and collection will eventually be passed from the SLMA to the city. Twenty-five years ought to be plenty of time for the city to plan ahead on how to maximize the potential of these valuable cultural assets. Or at least not to run them into the ground.

Another welcome development is the 'stop loss' part of the agreement, which discontinues the practice of auctioning off items from the SLMA's collection of rare books and artwork. Profits from past auctions or auctions scheduled before the agreement are also to be divided equally with the city.

Heather Brandon, author of the Valley Advocate's Urban Compass, was at the announcement and wrote about the transactions yesterday in her article "Museums and city reach landmark partnership." She has a knack for sorting through this city stuff and coming up with the details folks need to know.

FYI: Admission to the museums is free on Fridays and Saturdays for city residents with a city library card, as it has been for quite some time.

For more information, visit the Springfield Museums website:

Photo source: American Memory Collection, Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing, 1910-20, Digital ID: det 4a24635.

1 comment:

sojourner said...

I did not realize city residents could still visit the museums with a library card. The founding fathers of the museums would be devastated that there is a charge to anyone, but I guess the bills have to be paid somehow.

Sounds like intersting changes are on the horizon.