Sanilac District Library
Serving our community since 1936

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History of the Sanilac District Library

Mrs. Payne 1Sanilac District Library has a history of growth and change. SDL has been housed in 5 locations, each move representing the increasing number of people who use our library and the changes required to supply their library needs.


Methodist ChurchSanilac District Library has been growing and developing ever since 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 and recognized by the State of Michigan on August 25, 1936. Loris Falls, a local businessman, offered the library the use of the Berry Building, (where the Port Sanilac Coin Laundry is now located) which provided a larger space. Volunteers held a bee to clean, paint, build shelves and refinish furniture. A wood stove was donated so that the library could remain open all year. Children brought wood, coal and paper to heat the building during the Saturday Story Hours.

old libraryIn May 1938, the Port Sanilac Public Library relocated to the south side of little stone cottage, which is now the Lighthouse Bakery, sharing quarters with the Village Office and Fire Department. The library purchased, renovated and occupied the entire building when the new Municipal Building was constructed on December 15, 1939.  

On April 6, 1955, The Port Sanilac Public Library extended its service area and became the Sanilac Township Library. A millage of 0.0004 mills was approved for operating expenses. In 1971, the library contracted with portions of Bridgehampton, Forester and Washington Township to provide library service. An addition was built across the back of the building in 1977.

Bark ShantySanilac Township Library outgrew that location and was temporarily housed in one room of the Bark Shanty Community Center in June 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.




Fall - historySanilac Township Library was reestablished as Sanilac District Library on February 25, 1998 due to financial constraints. Income had dramatically been 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. An operating millage of 0.000625 mills was approved by voters of the Carsonville-Port Sanilac School District and Sanilac Township in June 1999 to provide a stable source of income.

growing2By 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.

Our 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.

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. The 2010 Census decreased the legal service area population size from 4,545 to 4,375. Over 6,000 library cards have been issued.  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 library 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.