After 45 years of dedication to the Ypsilanti and Superior communities, YDL Board Trustee Kay Williams is stepping down from her position. Williams has been a champion for YDL’s presence in Superior Township and the construction of the new Superior Branch, which opened on November 14.
In addition to her time on YDL’s Board of Trustees, Williams has a long history of service and dedication to Superior Township. Read on to learn more about what she’s done for the community.
Kay Williams and the Story of YDL-Superior
Kay’s desire to establish a full-service YDL branch in Superior Township stemmed from her love of reading as a child. She says, “The Bookmobile came twice a month bringing books I could borrow if I brought them back in good condition. We had books in our house, but having new books to read was heaven. When I was in high school, the public library was across the street.”
Once Williams got married and started her family, she noticed the lack of a library near her house. “After I married Karl and we moved to our present home in Superior Township with our children, Ida and Alex, it was harder to find a library. So because it is a Plymouth mailing address, I didn’t tell them I was in Washtenaw County and continued to borrow their books until they found out.”
Former State Representative David Rutledge was the Superior Township Supervisor in 1985 when Kay, then Township Clerk, came to him with a discovery and an idea. She’d learned that the original Township Hall, built in the 1870s, was languishing in the bottom of a gravel pit a few miles away from their offices. Kay said, “We need to bring it back here to preserve our history. It can be a library, museum, and event space.”
According to Rutledge, Kay immediately launched into action to have the building acquired and transported to its current location beside the modern Township Hall, organizing every detail of a celebratory parade so citizens could witness the move down Cherry Hill Road on June 28, 1986. After this, she coordinated the building’s renovation, and championed its use as a historical museum and informal library where residents could exchange books and ideas. Kay wanted real library service, however, and in 1991 convinced YDL to open a branch library in the historic building as a demonstration project. Voters had 18 months to try it out before deciding at the ballot box whether or not the Township would join the library district. Sadly, the result was “no.” The demonstration library was closed, and YDL discontinued bookmobile service to Superior. Through Kay’s persistence, however, in January of 1996, the Township agreed to contract annually with YDL for service.
According to David Rutledge, “Kay fought hard to have a YDL presence in the MacArthur Boulevard area. She said, ‘We need to build our own Township library.’” On March 6, 2006, in her Township Trustee role as Clerk, she made a motion for the Township Board to place a new library resolution on the ballot. In August 2006, voters were once again asked to join the YDL district. This time the answer was yes, by a narrow margin of 506 to 471.
YDL would open a “temporary” Superior branch library in the community room of the Township’s fire sub-station at 8795 MacArthur Boulevard in February, 2007. In a letter dated December 19, 2006, Superior Township Clerk Kay Williams forwarded a signed copy of the lease for the room to Library Director Jill Morey. Kay’s brief transmittal said, “We are all excited about getting the interim branch library. Let us know when it will be open, and the hours. I, personally, want to be one of the first patrons!” The branch opened February 24, 2007.
The plan was to build a new branch library nearby soon after, but the economic downturn derailed the project. Instead of investing in new construction, YDL faced layoffs and budget cuts that would impact service for the next decade.
Kay retired from her position as Township Clerk in 2008, and she joined the YDL Board of Trustees in 2009. A dedicated Library patron, Kay and her husband live at the uppermost boundary of Superior Township, as far from YDL’s Whittaker Road library as you can get in our district. In fact, their mailing address is Plymouth! Despite this, Kay has loyally attended Board meetings, served on YDL committees too numerous to mention, and worked in the Friends of YDL Book Shop since the beginning of her tenure.
In 2011, with the promised full-service branch still on the back burner, the Township threatened to leave the library district. A heated meeting was held between the two Boards, facilitated by David Rutledge. He recalls, “When the Library and Township had the disagreement, she was on the Board and was intimately involved in the conversation. She still believed the Township needed a division of the library of its own in the community.” The Township could not legally withhold tax support from the Library. In the end they settled on a mutual goal of a joint Library/Community Center building, to be built on Harris Road when enough money could be raised. The new facility was identified as a top capital improvement priority in the 2011-14 YDL Strategic Plan. At the May 24, 2012 Library Board meeting, Kay offered a motion which resolved “That the current Board of Trustees of the Ypsilanti District Library hereby states its intention to move forward with this project as soon as the library budget can support such an endeavor.” Various committees were formed to look at potential construction sites, and a capital campaign was launched, but the project continued to languish for lack of funds.
YDL Director Jill Morey retired in 2015, and Lisa Hoenig was hired as her replacement. Kay met her on her first day to discuss her dual assignments — to restore the library to fiscal health and to build a full-service library in Superior Township.
To fund the new library, YDL placed a millage on the 2018 ballot, which passed by a 2/3 margin. The land for the library was cleared in the fall of 2019. Construction was slated for spring of 2020… until the pandemic hit. After a year-long delay, ground was broken on the new branch in April 2021, where Williams’ dedication to the library was recognized.
Kay’s dedication to the new library isn’t just an enthusiasm for its construction. When COVID-19 caused costs to surge, Kay donated nearly $10,000 to the project. Kay helped move the Superior collection to its new home during the Book Brigade. And when the new YDL-Superior building opened, Kay was one of the first in the door.
Now, with the task of bringing a full-service library branch to Superior Township accomplished, Kay Williams is stepping down as a YDL Board Trustee. We admire her incredible passion for libraries, and thank her for her service to YDL and the community at large.
A Timeline of Kay Williams’ Service to Superior Township
- 1977-1988: Williams served as Superior Township Clerk.
- 1992-1996: Kay begins her term as a Parks Commissioner.
- 2001-2008: Williams is reelected as Superior Township Clerk.
- 2009-Present: Kay wins a seat as a YDL Board Trustee.
- 2011-2012: She becomes Treasurer of the YDL Board.
- 2013: Kay adopts the position of Vice President of the Board.
- 2014-2015: She returns to her role as Treasurer.
- 2017: Kay is the Secretary of the YDL Board.
- 2018-2019: Once again, Kay serves as Treasurer.
- 2018-2021: Williams serves as member of the Superior Township Board of Review.
- 2022: Kay continues as Treasurer of the YDL Board until announcing her retirement at the end of the year.