History of the Richland Community Library
In October of 1973, an advertisement in the local paper asked for people who were interested in the formation of a local library. Eighteen people met and the Friends of the Library group was formed. Joan Split, Dick Griffith, Carol Wetzel, and Jane Mansager were among the original members. Businesses in Richland and Kalamazoo donated money and useful materials, time, goods, and books.
In January of 1974, Richland Village and Township Boards resolved to enter into an agreement that established a “district library”; making the library eligible to receive penal fines. Village Clerk files produced an old deed showing the Community Hall (lower level) could be used as a library with no charge for the rent, heat, and electric utilities. Four months from its inception the doors were open to the public; a full fledged library with 42 family members and 3,641 books.
In September of 1975, the Friends of the Library campaigned for millage and the vote was approved 259-115. This raised about $7,500 plus another $2,500 in state aid and with the penal fine money brought the budget to about $12,000. This enabled the library to open 30 hours a week, hire a full-time librarian, and buy more books and supplies.
In November of 1975, the Kalamazoo Board of Education voted unanimously to accept Richland Community Library as a member. The millage vote had transformed the volunteer library into a “legally established and system-affiliated library” (Dr. Mark Crum-Director, Kalamazoo Public Library).
In 1977, plans to move into larger quarters were discussed. Many locations were considered and plans for a new building were considered. A feasibility study of the “Church House” (the current location was once known as the Church House and was originally built as a library in 1910) showed promise as a prime location. Its historic value and the reduced cost factor were appealing. Based on these factors the Board voted to purchase the Church House and convert it (once again) into a library.
Today, the Richland Community Library occupies the original local library building. In 2003, the building size was doubled due to the efforts of a local fundraising campaign. Joan Split retired as Director in 2005 and served as Director Emeritus, working with Adult programming until 2008. Kay LaPierre (BBA-Finance and MLS from the University of North Texas) served as Director from 2005-2013. Dennis Kreps (BA-Elementary Education from Manchester College; MLIS from the University of Illinois) was hired as Director in 2013.