Dear Crabby, Why is the Rochester Hills Public Library Located in Downtown Rochester?

Dear Crabby, Why is the Rochester Hills Public Library Located in Downtown Rochester?

Sincerely, Eva W. Hill

Hello Eva,

The library has a long history and someone should write a book about it. But not me. This question comes up a lot in conversation, especially from out of town visitors and from folks who just moved to the area.

And to make things even harder to understand, the library serves Rochester, Rochester Hills, and Oakland Township equally. So again. people ask, why does the name reflect just one community. But if we renamed it – The Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township Public Library – who would have the time to say all that? Even now we just say “The Library” in a hurry.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop
Dear Crabby Gives Advice

Speaking of the library, did you know you can trace your roots for free, online, right now? The library has offered many more services for library card holders than usual during the pandemic, virtually, and it’s really easy to use. There’s not too many Crabbys, but we’re out there and spread throughout the Midwest. Some of us originally came from Ireland … who knew?

Besides genealogy, there are a ton of videos, databases, and streaming services to keep you busy for years and years. And you never even have to step foot in the building if you don’t want to.

Anyhow, back to your question. As I said, the history is long and interesting, and there has been a few different names associated with the library over the years. The Library was in downtown Rochester when in 1984 Avon Township became the City of Rochester Hills. And the rectangle of Avon Township, which held the city of Rochester, as well as the new Rochester Hills, vanished off the map and the library changed its name as well. So, the then named Avon Township Public Library became the Rochester Hills Public Library.

Those three communities – Rochester, Rochester Hills, and Oakland Township – have mileages to fund library operations. However, the official name remains The Rochester Hills Public Library.

Maybe that helps, maybe it doesn’t, but that’s my answer!

Sincerely, Dear Crabby.

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Then email me your question at You can also head on over to my Facebook page and tell me how wonderful I am.

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at


  1. Sue Ann Douglas says

    The Avon Township Village Hall and the Avon Township Library we’re located in the Village of Rochester. When Rochester became a City in the late 1960’s, they remained here. Later when Rochester Hills became a City, the name changed the name to Rochester Hills Public Library.
    Rochester and Rochester Hills both contract with Rochester the Rochester Hills Public Library. They are not owners.
    When the new library was built, the Hills council kept nixing the various sites. One that the Library had purchased, was designated a wet land. (There is a subdivision going in there, now.) During the struggle, I was on the Rochester City Council and got a phone call asking if Rochester could help with the purchase of the current site in downtown Rochester. Our city council discussed it and asked the DDA if they could help. They did and there it sits in downtown Rochester.

  2. Christine Hage says

    Dear Eva and Crabby,

    As the retired director of the Rochester Hills Public Library, I believe I can shed some light on your questions about the library’s name.
    Formed in 1924, by a vote of the people of Avon Township the library was created and funded by a millage approved by the voters. Thus was created the Avon Township Free Public Library. It was then, and is now, governed by a non-partisan, uncompensated, elected board. The library is not part of the municipal governments that it serves (Rochester, Rochester Hills, and Oakland Township) and is a separate governmental unit of its own.
    In 1925 the library board rented space in the bank at the corner of Fourth Street and Main Street, the current location of the Chase Bank. A few years later, the library board purchased the site with a house on it at the corner of Pine and University.
    Thanks to a bequest from the Eva Woodward Parker estate, the library was able to construct a new building, which opened in 1951 on the same site. The new building was named the Woodward Memorial Library, but the library’s legal name did not change.
    In 1967 the City of Rochester was incorporated and it included the downtown area where the library was located. This created a unique situation where the library of one community was now located in a new community. The funding for the library came from the original 1924 Avon Township tax so the name stayed the same. The Avon Township served the residents of Rochester through a contract that the City of Rochester to this day pays with funds from its general fund.
    In 1984, Avon Township ceased to exist and became Rochester Hills. The library board decided to change the name to the Rochester Hills Public Library (RHPL), but the building remained in the City of Rochester.
    In 1989, a library bond issue was passed and a search began for a new home for the RHPL. The library board considered several pieces of property in Rochester Hills and eventually purchased a site slightly north of Tienken Road on Rochester Road. A building was designed but due to changes in the wetlands ordinance, the site became unusable for the library’s purposes. The search for a new site was activated.
    As Sue Douglas said above, the City of Rochester did not want the library to move out of the downtown area, so the Rochester Downtown Development Authority (DDA) offered the library board $2.5 million to purchase property within the DDA. The library board supplemented that money to purchase the library’s current site on Olde Towne Road. The new building opened in November of 1992 and again the library name stayed the same since it was the voters of the now Rochester Hills who approved the operating millage
    The major portion of the library’s operating millage still comes from property taxes in the City of Rochester Hills. Oakland Township has a service contract with the library which is also paid through a dedicated property tax. As mentioned earlier, the City of Rochester does not have a dedicated tax for the library contract but pays for that contract from its general fund.
    As the library approaches its 100th anniversary, Rochester resident Deborah Lawson is writing a history of RHPL. Keep your eyes open for more details on your public library.


    Christine Lind Hage
    Former director of the Rochester Hills Public Library

Speak Your Mind