Since the earliest days of the Bay City Library, especially when it was privately owned, it had been made use of, as a matter of course, by numerous non-residents. When it came to issuing cards to them and allowing them to draw books, the librarians naturally referred them to the trustees, who on the application of the would-be borrowers, invariably granted the applications. This was a neighborly service as long as the Library was privately owned, but when it was owned by city taxpayers, it was all together a different matter. The Board of Trustees took a firm stand on the matter. No one should thereafter be allowed to borrow books unless he was a resident or paid taxes to the city of Bay City. A contract followed with the Village Council of the Village of Essexville, in accordance with which the Library Board gave service to the people of the Village of Essexville who obtained cards in the regular way. The Village Board paid the Library the actual cost of servicing the cards, a bill to be rendered yearly by the Librarian. Some years afterward, the same principle was embodied in a contract with the Board of Supervisors for the whole county, the County Board paying for library service for the whole county. While not all together satisfactory because it provides library service for only those people who can come for it, thus cutting off the poorer people, it is a better arrangement than most library experiments with county service. The number of cards issued to county residents would increase largely if the local supervisors, each one of whom can give or withhold the privilege of library service, really believed that library service was a benefit to every card holder. Their object was not to induce people to read, but to hold down the number of card holders so that the county library bill would be smaller.
In 1936 the Library finally established the South End Branch Library after a large number of South End residents had petitioned to have it. They rightly directed their petition to the City Commission, as they had learned that although the Board of Trustees of the Library wanted them to have their library, it could not take action until it knew that the commission would allow them money to start and maintain it. The branch library has been a complete success from the beginning. It has an excellent situation for the convenience of its patrons and keeps up a large circulation. It has been fortunate in having as its head library assistants who are particularly interested in the neighborhood and a policy at the main library that is in every way fair to the needs of the branch. Now it is conceded by everyone interested that the branch library is a part of the library system we could not do without.
The shape of Bay City makes it impossible to locate one library equidistant from everybody. Bay City is nine miles long by not more than three miles wide at the most, that is east of the Saginaw River. The location of the South End Branch at 31st and Broadway took care of the south end, but did not help the residents on the extreme north end. To lessen the hardship for young children to come long distance for library books, the Library for a long time has been improving what are called school deposit libraries. Each school, if the school principal wants such a library and will cooperate with the library policy concerning them, has one of these deposit libraries, which stays in the school permanently, though it remains the property of the Library. To this nucleus are added each year a number of new and suitable books. The schools making the best use of their books naturally winning the greater number of these.
The Library extends its services to the two city hospitals. Experimental at first, it has now developed into a valued and expected service, requiring two 4-5 hour visits of library assistants to each hospital every week. The service grows with the growing use of the hospitals by the population of the city. The Library acquires many regular card holders who first came in contact with the library through being hospitalized.