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History of Sanilac District Library 

Sanilac District Library has a history of growth and change. SDL has been housed in five locations, each move representing the increasing number of people who use our library and the changes required to meet their needs for library service. 

Lenora Payne


Sanilac District Library has been growing and developing ever since Mrs. Lenora Payne started a book room in the basement of the Port Sanilac United Methodist Church to encourage children to read in 1935. Soon there were more books than that little Sunday schoolroom could hold.
The Port Sanilac Public Library was officially organized and recognized by the State of Michigan on August 25, 1936. Loris Falls, a local business man, offered the Berry Building for library use which provided a larger space. The Port Sanilac Coin Laundry is now located at this site. Volunteers held a bee to clean, paint, build shelves and refinish furniture. A wood stove was donated so the library could remain open during the winter. Children brought wood, coal and paper to heat the building during the Saturday Story Hours. 

Port Sanilac Methodist Church

In May 1938, The Port Sanilac Village Library relocated to the south side of a little stone cottage sharing the building with the Port Sanilac Village Office. The Port Sanilac Fire Department was located in a lean-to connected to the building. The library purchased, renovated and occupied the entire building when the new Port Sanilac Municipal Building was constructed on December 15, 1939. Bake Krazy Bakery is now located in this building. 

The Port Sanilac Village Library extended its service area and became the Sanilac Township Library on April 6, 1955. A millage of 0.0004 mills was approved for operating funds. In 1971, the library contracted with portions of Bridgehampton, Forester and Washington Townships to provide library service to their residents. An addition was constructed across the back of the building in 1977, doubling the size. 

Old library

Community Center

Sanilac Township Library outgrew the stone cottage and was temporarily housed on one room of the Bark Shanty Community Center June through October 1987 while a new facility was constructed. Volunteers helped move the books and furniture into the new building on October 30, 1987. The library officially opened on October 31, 1987. 

Due to financial constraints the Sanilac Township Library was reestablished as the Sanilac District Library on February 25, 1998. Income had been dramatically reduced due to the Headlee Override and the rising cost of books, materials, supplies, technological advancements and other operating expenses. The Library was no longer able to provide quality service nor meet the requests for additional services required by our patrons.  SDL's legal service area expanded to include the residents of the Carsonville-Port Sanilac School District and Sanilac Township. An operating millage of 0.000625 mills was approved by voters in June 1999 providing a stable source of income.

SDL Facility

Capital Campaign Logo

By the year 2000, our library once again was bursting at the seams. Books were piled beyond reach, computer workstations blocked aisles, patrons caused traffic jams and children were packed into Story Time. The Growing To Meet Your Needs Capital Campaign successfully raised the $250,000 needed to construct an addition and renovate the existing building. These accomplishments were the result of the generous donations and hard work from volunteers who love to read and who recognized the importance of the library to our community. Time and again, our community has supported the library so that it continues to thrive.

Sanilac District Library is proud of our state-of-the-art technology. The circulation system and card catalog were automated in September 1995. Various grants from the Gates Foundation, the Reed Grant, SBC Excelerator Technology Grant, state and federal governments and the Sanilac County Community Foundation have provided public access computers, software and staff training. In 2005, SDL was the 52nd library to join MeLCat. Today over 443 libraries participate.

Sanilac District Library's success is measured by the number of materials, programs and services provided to our patrons. Our circulation records prove that our library is being used as never before. Our early childhood programs encourage reading readiness and lifelong learning. Our library was the fourth in the state and the first Class II library to meet the Quality Service Audit Checklist standards. In 2016, SDL entered into an arrangement with the Carsonville Port Sanilac School District to manage the elementary and high school libraries and provide library service to CPS students. 

Sanilac District Library is sincerely grateful to the residents of our service area who provide the stable source of funding which enables our library to supply materials, programs and services to our community. Nothing could be accomplished without you. Please, let us know, how we may continue to Grow To Meet Your Needs.