The Siuslaw Public Library is a successful merger between the public and private spheres guiding the Siuslaw Library District. This combination has literally endowed the library with resources that would be the envy of most small-town libraries.
This year, the Friends of the Siuslaw Public Library Endowment Fund has accrued enough interest that it allowed Adult Services Librarian Kevin Mittge to purchase hundreds of books for the district’s permanent collection.
“The endowment fund was originally established in 1994. Since then, the Friends of the Library and individuals have continued to contribute money and the endowment fund has grown and grown. In the quarter ending in December, the balance in the fund was $239,000,” Mittge said during his presentation to the 25 or so individuals in attendance at the endowment unveiling.
The fund is administered by Western Lane County Community Foundation, with the library receiving approximately 4.5 percent of the interest generated by the fund.
“This year we received about $10,413,” Mittge added.
The money received by the library is split between books for younger readers and those for the adult collection. Fortunately, studies done by the Pew Charitable Trust over the past few years indicate library usage is holding steady nationally, with the number of younger Americans accessing local libraries on the rise.
One of the many benefits that this financial stability allows is a yearly infusion of thought, experiences and new information that covers nearly every major area of human endeavor and accomplishment. There are also a number of sobering investigations into crimes against humanity, the marginalization of liberty, the exploitation of women and children and the devaluing of truth in our political dialogue.
All of these topics are reflected in the list of the titles purchased this year by Mittge, including a wide variety of non-fiction and reference books like “The American Flag: An Encyclopedia of the Stars and Stripes in U.S. History, Culture and Law” and the latest history books by Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCollough.
Mittge specifically mentioned McCollough’s latest book as one that had been requested by multiple patrons and already had a hold list of readers waiting for the book from the two-time Pulitzer winner and PBS narrator.
McCollough has recently released two important books that have garnered attention for major literary awards. “The American Spirit, Who We Are and What We Stand For” and his latest release, “The Pioneers, The Heroic Story of the Settlers that Brought the American Ideal West,” have been well reviewed and both are New York Times Bestsellers.
McCollough’s retrospective “American Spirit” begins with the following line that highlights his belief that the study of history is perhaps the single most important element in understanding America and her citizens.
“History, I like to think is, is a larger way of looking at life. It is a source of strength, of inspiration. It is about who we are and what we stand for and is essential to our understanding of what our own role should be in our time,” Mittge read. “History, as can’t be said often enough, is human. It is about people, and they speak to us across the years.”
Mittge also mentioned some books that may not be as high profile as those by McCollough but are interesting for the visual aspects of history they provide to the reader.
“Images of America publishes this series of great books that, as the name implies, have a lot of images. Judy Fleagle wrote one a few years ago on Florence, and we try to get one from all the places around the state when they come out so we can put in our Oregon collection — which is a great resource for Oregon places and lots of other things,” Mittge said.
The beneficiaries of the successful synergy between philanthropic individuals and the library are the residents of Florence, Mapleton and the surrounding areas. Perhaps more accurately the beneficiaries are those in the community that still read actual printed books, which judging from the interest shown at last week’s presentation, are numerous.
Mittge also wanted to share with the public some books that were purchased with important historic events in mind and are also the subject of other upcoming library events.
“This is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, so we did purchase some of those books and one of my favorites is ‘Spacecraft,’ which has really good details about all the parts and what’s inside the spacecrafts,” Mittge said. “And we will be having a presentation on the landing on the actual day of the moon landing, Saturday, July 22, given by Jeff Phillips from the Eugene Astronomical Society. He has a long history with the space program, so that should be very interesting.”
In addition, the library’s summer reading program this year is called “A Universe of Stories.” Activities began June 1, so sign up at the library’s front desk today.
For more information on the new titles available at the Siuslaw Public Library or to find out about upcoming events and speakers, call 541-997-3132, visit siuslawlibrary.info or stop in at the Florence branch, 1460 Ninth St., or the Mapleton branch, 88148 Riverview Ave.