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Notes from Executive Director Scott Garrison – September 2022

Like so many other organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic influenced MCLS to become a mostly remote work organization, and I have big news to share. On Friday, Aug. 12 the MCLS Board of Directors voted to authorize me as Executive Director to seek our members’ approval to sell the building and land we own at 1407 Rensen St., Lansing, MI. Our goal is to complete a successful member vote by Wednesday, Sept. 28 through an open, transparent process that complies with Michigan state law and the MCLS Bylaws. This means that we will need at least 10% of our member libraries to vote, with the majority in favor of selling.

We will email an electronic ballot on this action to MCLS Member Representatives on Tuesday, Sept. 6, so please watch your inbox.

I encourage our Member Representatives to connect with me as soon as possible with any questions or concerns you may have; I want to know what information you need to vote by Sept. 28 at 5pm Eastern (4pm Central.) We will hold online information sessions via Zoom to answer as many questions as possible. If you are your library’s Member Representative or Alternate, please register ahead using the links below to receive the Zoom link.

If none of these sessions work for you, please feel free to schedule an individual meeting with me or contact me directly at or (517) 489-4071.

If MCLS’s Member Representatives approve a sale, we will engage a realtor, list the building, and find a smaller space to lease that will meet our current needs. Clearly, selling our building is a major change involving many details to consider. Here is some additional information regarding MCLS’s building and our goal to sell it with member approval:

  • The Michigan Library Consortium (which later merged with INCOLSA in Indiana to form MCLS) originally purchased 1407 Rensen St. in 2002.
  • The building’s approximately 18,000 total square feet on two floors provided staff offices, meeting, training, and workroom/storage space, as well as thousands of square feet of extra space. Since 2020, we have found new ways to do most of the activities we did at 1407 Rensen St., and do not anticipate resuming most of them at an office.
  • MCLS has used a variety of spaces at member libraries, hotels, campuses, and elsewhere for larger meetings for years and will continue doing so.
  • Beginning with Engagement, Consulting, and Training staff in Indiana, many at MCLS worked remotely years before we became a majority remote organization in March 2020. We continue to rethink our operations to accommodate majority remote work for all staff.
  • Since early 2022, up to five or six out of 25 total staff may work in the building on any given day, if needed. It is clear to us that we no longer need all the space that 1407 Rensen St. offers. We can easily adapt to a much smaller office space (i.e., 2,000-2,500 square feet plus storage.)
  • In April, we informed our sole tenant, the Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME), that we had begun to explore selling the building.
  • After obtaining an appraisal for the building in May, we began preliminary sale discussions with the Board of Directors and a real estate broker.
  • As of fiscal year 2022, it costs MCLS approximately $82,000 per year to operate and maintain the building as a depreciating fixed asset (plus staff time to arrange maintenance and repairs.)
  • Based on our current needs, we believe we need to continue having an office location. That may change in the future.
  • We began exploring potential spaces in the Lansing area in July. Our initial estimates indicate that a smaller leased space may cost between $40,000-$50,000 per year to operate, representing potential savings of up to approximately $30,000 per year (excluding staff time for building maintenance issues.)
  • We currently estimate that it may take 9-18 months to sell and close on the building and move to a new space.
  • At their Aug. 12 meeting, the MCLS Board approved approaching the membership to vote on a sale, with the following requirements:
    • A sale transaction must be completed within 24 months.
    • A sale must yield proceeds based on market comparisons at time of sale.
    • The use of sale proceeds will be in alignment with MCLS Board policy.
  • We have begun to discuss potential uses for building sale proceeds including covering the cost of a smaller leased space for 3-5 years.
  • For an approval vote to carry, a quorum of 10% of Member Representatives must vote with the majority votes cast in favor of the ballot action.

Given all the changes we have seen since March 2020, we believe that selling MCLS’s building and moving to a much smaller leased space is the right thing to do at this time. We feel confident this will both save MCLS money in the long term and convert a depreciating, underutilized fixed asset into resources we can use to invest in innovation for libraries and more.

I am hopeful that we can complete the voting process by the end of September. As always, I welcome your thoughts and questions at or (517) 489-4071.