Friends of Les Cheneaux Community Library (FLCCL) organized in response to an opportunity to build a new, larger library that would better serve the Upper Peninsula communities of Cedarville and Hessel, Michigan, also known as Les Cheneaux. In 1997 an anonymous donor made a generous gift of $100,000 toward the fledgling Les Cheneaux Community Foundation (LCCF). The monetary gift was also to be used as seed money toward the construction of a new community library.
Subsequently, a group of both year-round and seasonal residents joined together as a research committee. For the next two years the committee visited other rural communities of a similar size to Les Cheneaux and evaluated their libraries in order to refine their recommendations for the newly proposed Les Cheneaux Community Library.
The anonymous donor's wishes were that the new library be built through private donations, so in 2000 FLCCL—now a certified 501(c)3 nonprofit organization— initiated a community-wide capital campaign known as “Building for Lifelong Learning.”
And the community responded! Businesses, families, and private individuals made out-and-out cash donations. Others contributed through pledges that were satisfied by monthly installments. There were even gifts of land, such as the property upon which the library sits. Local contractors and sub-contractors were employed to build the new library and every one of them presented invoices with “gift-in-kind” discounts. These gifts yielded savings on items such as a double-faced fireplace, solid maple custom-made doors and flooring, floor tiling, carpeting, murals, furniture, stained-glass work, exterior finishing, and even the asphalt parking area.
Generous donations continued to arrive following the library's opening to the public. One family with a long and benevolent history in Les Cheneaux donated a then state-of-the-art 50” plasma screen with multiple-speaker “surround sound” audio for the multipurpose room. In 2009 another individual left LCCL a very generous bequest in their will.
The capital campaign eventually raised $1.1 million for construction of the new library. Groundbreaking took place in late 2001 and construction began in early 2002.
The beautiful new Les Cheneaux Community Library (LCCL) opened to the public in September 2003—six short years after the anonymous donor's $100,000 gift, an amazing testament to the unity and quality of the community it serves. At the time of its opening, LCCL was the only privately owned library built for public use in the state of Michigan. Word of its unique status carried as far as Lansing, and LCCL was honored by a visit from the State Librarian within its first year of operation.
FLCCL retains ownership of the Les Cheneaux Community Library and serves as its fiscal agent. Friends also holds a “Michigan License to Solicit” in order to seek donations to help maintain and support the library.
When LCCL opened to the public, and for the first ten years of its service, it was a branch library of the Bayliss Public Library located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. However, in 2011 funding for libraries in Michigan began to seriously decline, and by 2012 available support for Bayliss and its branch libraries had fallen by 40 percent. It was clear that another source of funding must be found to keep Bayliss and its branches open.
In 2013 a millage request was put before the voters by the newly created Superior District Library, which is also headquartered at Bayliss Public Library in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Thankfully, the voters answered in the affirmative and the two-year half-mil income began to bring the budget out of the deficit condition that it had been experiencing.
An SDL ten-year, half-mil income request was approved by the voters in 2015, a much-appreciated vote of approval and confidence from the communities served by the Superior District Library and its affiliate libraries. Now, long-term budgets could be formulated for SDL members without the expense and uncertainty of putting additional short-term library-support election issues before the voters.
Les Cheneaux Community Library is one of eight affiliates of the Superior District Library. The ten-year, half-mil-tax funding for the SDL system is generated in Chippewa County, Mackinac County, and the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. In addition, the SDL receives, administers, and distributes its affiliates' State Penal Funds, which result from fines for automobile speeding violations and associated infractions.
The SDL also administers and pays for all things related to the day-to-day operation of LCCL and the circulation of materials, such as the inter-library loan service. SDL pays for the LCCL Manager, Clerk, and Substitutes, as well as the internet service. SDL also provides a budget for the purchase of new materials and programming.
Friends of Les Cheneaux Community Library provides for all things related to the operation and maintenance of the library and its grounds. FLCCL pays for building repair and maintenance, insurances, parking lot maintenance, utilities, cleaning, snow and garbage removal, landscaping maintenance, furniture, and some additions to the collection materials. The Friends also provide a supplementary budget for various programs, events, and visiting artists/experts at LCCL.
In accordance with an agreement between the Superior District Library and the Friends of Les Cheneaux Community Library, the SDL pays rent to FLCCL for use of the Les Cheneaux Community Library facility and grounds. The amount of rent paid is equal to 50 percent of the half-mil tax revenue generated in Clark Township for support of the SDL in any given year.