Traverse City – If you have lived in Traverse City and/or used the public library at any point in the past forty-plus years, then you have experienced the lasting legacy of Mike McGuire. Michael L. McGuire, 67, passed away peacefully at the Munson Hospice House on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 following a long struggle with cancer.
Mike worked at TADL for 35 years, initially as the assistant director from 1975-1979 and serving as library director from 1979 until his retirement in 2009. He also served as President of the Michigan Library Association in 2005-2006. During his tenure, Mike was instrumental in transitioning the Traverse City Public Library from a city department to a district-library system collaboration between the City of Traverse City and Grand Traverse County in 1982. That library system today includes the addition of East Bay and Kingsley branches and member libraries in Fife Lake, Interlochen, and Peninsula Township.
As the world experienced the growth of personal computers and the information age, McGuire ensured that the Traverse Area District Library was leading the way for public access to technology. In October 1980, Mike led the way by introducing a Radio Shack TRS-80 microcomputer available for public use. The Traverse City library led the way as public libraries transitioned from being a traditional books and paper institution to include music collections on LP and cassette tape, and movies on laserdisc or VHS and later CD/DVD formats.
In the 1990s Mike was a key voice in championing the library’s move from the Carnegie library building on Sixth Street, a cramped and outdated space. This community effort lead to two ballot proposals in 1996: A twenty-year operational millage and a twenty-year facilities bond millage to fund the construction of a new Main library on Woodmere Avenue in Traverse City. Both of these ballot measures were approved by voters and, the new library facility opened on January 10, 1999.
“Mike’s crowning professional achievement was the construction of this beautiful facility,” said Gail Parsons, current TADL director.
McGuire was a servant leader at the library. He would take on any task that needed to be completed at the library, even taking the cleaning cloths home to be laundered. The Carnegie library on Sixth Street did not have laundry facilities like the current Main library. Mike also liked to walk around the library facility at least once an hour to interact with staff and library patrons, a management philosophy he called “MBWA” (Management By Walking Around). He was well-loved by his staff and colleagues, treating them like family and demonstrating gentleness and his sense of humor.
At his retirement in 2009, the Traverse Area District Library Board of Trustees honored Mike by naming the Community Room of the Main Library after him. Following his official retirement and for the next seven years, until October of 2016, McGuire volunteered at the library by sorting through the donated books to help recommend which to add to TADL’s collection, identify high-value editions for sale to collectors, or select quality used books for the annual Friends of TADL book sales. In 2017, TADL gave him the Volunteer of the Year Award for his many years of extraordinary service and commitment as a volunteer.
Mike is survived by his loving wife, Nancy, and their three children; son, Matthew McGuire; son, Daniel McGuire and his wife, Cheryl; and daughter, Erin McGuire. Mike was especially proud of his two wonderful grandchildren, Franklin and Calvin.
It seems fitting that as we mourn his passing and celebrate the life of Mike McGuire, his family is hosting a public visitation in the McGuire Community Room on Monday, February 26 from 4:00-7:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please direct any memorial contributions in Mike’s name to:
Friends of the Traverse Area District Library, 610 Woodmere Avenue, Traverse City, MI 49686
or the Grand Traverse Area Children’s Garden, 505 Riverine Drive, Traverse City, MI 49684