When I was growing up, one of my preferred stories to read was the legend of King Arthur. The original account or any other ‘additional’ tales about the “Knights of the Round Table” was just one of my all-time favorite sagas.
Although it is now 60 years old, author T.H. White in 1958 published what is considered a modern day classic re-telling of the epic of King Arthur, with all the main characters. King Arthur and his friend Sir Lancelot; Guinevere and King Arthur; Mordred; Merlin and so on. White’s novel was called “The Once and Future King.” You will understand the title if you know the legend.
I was fortunate that sometimes I was able to purchase certain books when I was growing up, but if I did not have the funds to buy something, then there was the library. They were always nearby.
I attended Heywood Elementary School and had a lot of great teachers, including Paul Bassett, Michael Beamish, Vickie Van Horn, Bill Miller, and, of course, Charles Hormell. Despite some of these good educators, one of my favorite people was Henrietta Mungle, who was the librarian at Heywood. In fact, I think she circulated through all the local elementary schools as the librarian. She was the stereotypical ‘old-fashioned’ librarian … shhhhh. But, once you got to know her, you found out that she knew the books, how to care for them, how to open a new book (a practice I still follow), and also knew just the book that an avid reading boy might enjoy, whether it was a classic or a newly published volume.
When I attended Junior High and High School, they also had libraries in which I could check out books for research, literary enjoyment and school work. It was where I first read Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf and, ‘in my timeline,’ learned about the atrocities he was planning.
But, it was probably the public library where I spent the most time when I was growing up … only this was when the library in the Hayner building, until the present library was constructed.
In the Troy-Miami County Public Library, I could find the classics, and the sci-fi — fantasy that I enjoyed, whether older ones like Jules Verne and Lord of the Rings or newer offerings. I could also find the non-fiction books about specific history, Egyptology or archaeology, in which these subjects became real in my imagination. The world was at my fingertips! Adventure was just around the corner with every new book.
In Troy, we have the Altrurian Club to thank for the public library. The defunct club was formed in the last decade of the 19th century by a number of Troy ladies who sought to find ways in which they could improve their community. The very first project they decided on, worked toward and completed was the opening of a free public library in the city of Troy. Following much planning, fundraising and organization, the Troy library opened in 1896 in City Hall. It was open for use by school children and the general public, alike. It was not the first attempt to open a library in Troy, but it was the first one which succeeded.
Almost since the beginning of time, libraries in varying forms have kept records, histories, legends and other forms of literature for posterity. The lost library of Alexandria supposedly held the greatest collection of wisdom and knowledge to that point in history. Libraries of today are a little different.
Current libraries, whether they be in Troy, Piqua, Tipp City, West Milton, Covington, Dayton, Huber Heights, Vandalia, Englewood, or wherever, have diversified collections that our parents or grandparents would have never dreamed of in their lifetime. Computers, DVDs, CDs, telescopes and
Wi-Fi are just a few items and amenities that modern libraries offer. But to me, it always comes back to the books, whether you hold the book in your hands and physically turn the pages, or download it to your electronic device. The stories found therein make adventures come alive, or the information learned can help increase your understanding of a topic or event, and just might change your life.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org