I felt compelled to respond to this post. There is no longer a charge to research at Burton. Mark Bowden the Director of the Burton Collection is doing his best with the resources available. I have researched there at least once a month for the past year, and found no problem getting help or a question answered. And there are detailed guidebooks to the manuscript collections. They have unique resources that are not available elsewhere. I have seen no evidence of abuse or that the collection is being destroyed.
In response the question about the event. This is the 7th Annual Family History Festival on Saturday, September 29 2012 from 10am to 6pm. More information & a pdf copy of the brochure is available at http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/event/not-far-tree
There are two nationally known speakers: Dr. Deborah A Abbott who will be speaking on Finding Female Ancestors and Slave Research: A Closer Look at Freedom and George G Morgan (sponsored by the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research) who will be speaking on The Genealogist as CSI and Bring 'Em Back to Life: Developing an Ancestor Profile. You will find more detailed information on both of George Morgan's talks on the website for the Detroit Society at http://dsgr.org/
Burton will also be open for research that day from 10-6 with full reference service. There is no charge for the festival unless you want to reserve a box lunch for $10. All orders for lunch must be received by Sept 21 2012.