06 May 2011

Focus on Libraries: Letters to the Children of Troy

Letter to the Children of Troy from Neil Armstrong
(Photos used with permission from Troy Public Library)
Closure looms in the future of many public libraries, Troy Public Library in Southeast Michigan understands this trend very well. The library, both staff and patrons, have lived with just this threat for quite some time. According to a recent article in the Daily Tribune, "the Troy Public Library was given a reprieve by the Troy City Council from its planned April 30 closure until it is scheduled to approve a budget on May 15. Funding for the library after July 1 was cut from the city’s three-year budget last year due to an anticipated $22.3 million revenue shortfall from 2010 through 2015."

As the threat of closure became a reality patrons and library lovers spoke up and staff, well, the staff started cleaning up, going through 40 years of the library's life.  Thankfully the people were listened to and the library was given an extension, the doors will remain open for the time being. And the clean up efforts proved very rewarding as treasure was discovered. Today The Mom talked with Phillip Kwik, Head of Public Services for the Troy Library, he explained that the staff unearthed "a tremendous collection of letters. A representation of life in 1970's America... a testament to libraries." 
In 1971 Marguerite Hart, the First Children's Librarian at the Troy Library, solicited the letters from far and wide requesting "a letter to the children of Troy about the importance of libraries, and ...memories of reading and of books." And the people responded. Ninety-seven letters in total were written to the children of Troy in celebration of the opening of Troy Public Library on May 16, 1971. Including letters from First Lady Pat Nixon; Michigan Governor William Milliken; Governor of California (and future president) Ronald Reagan; first-man-on-the-moon Neil Armstrong; Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown; authors Isaac Asimov, Hardie Gramatky, Dr. Seuss, Dr. Ben Spock, and E.B. White; and actors Douglas Faribanks, Jr., Vincent Price, and Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Currently a selection of the letters are on display in the lobby of Troy Library.

Why are libraries and these letters so important in this chapter of Troy Public Library's history? They all support one thing: libraries are a cornerstone of life in America. How about former President Ronald Reagan's take on books, "a world without books would be a world without light --without light, man cannot see." (see full letter below.) In her letter to the Children of Troy Senator Margaret Chase Smith shared her view of the library "a tradition that is making available centuries of accumulated wisdom to men and women in all walks of life." She also shared this quote from President Dwight Eisenhower,

"...The libraries of America are and must ever remain the homes of free, inquiring minds. To them, our citizens --of all ages and races, of all creeds and political persuasions-- must ever be able to turn with clear confidence that there they can freely seek the whole truth, unwarped by fashion and uncompromised by expediency"

In the next few days we'll be sharing more of the letters and amazing quotes in hopes to garner a little more support for Troy Public Library. There is definitely hope that it will remain open, the library is a precious thing --as E.B. White understood, "a library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort." 
According to a recent comment on Troy Library's website regarding the last City Council meeting "there was talk about either funding the library until August when a millage could be proposed at a special election or until November during regular elections. There was also deliberation on whether a proposal would be for a full-service or reduced-service library."

While Troy Library might be threatened with closure there is no question of the value of this nearly forty year old member of Oakland County's community.  What Troy Library holds in its vast collection of information is representative of these precious letters that Phillip Kwik explained are "for children --past, present and future." The library is a tradition, an institution, worth holding on to. And in the words of of a man who knows how to take on a challenge, Neil Armstrong, "how we use the knowledge we gain determines our progress on earth, in space and on the moon. Your library is a storehouse for mind and spirit. Use it well."
  • Attend the Troy City Council meeting Monday, May 9 2011 for details, click here.
  • Watch the live web cast of City Council Special Budget Study Session at 6:00 pm followed by a regular City Council meeting at 8:30 pm, click here.
  • Send a letter: 510 W. Big Beaver Rd, Troy, MI 48084 
  • Email Troy's Mayor and/or City Council: www.troymi.gov/council/
  • Follow Troy Library on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Visit the wonderful exhibit of letters in person, click here for details.
  • Learn about Detroit Area Public Libraries who are struggling with closures, click here.
  • Check out Loosing Libraries to learn about how to help libraries that are struggling.
  • The best thing to do: support your local library: stop by take out a book, pay your fines with a smile, and tell your librarian that you and the Books for Walls Project are happy that they are open!

  • What better way to celebrate Troy Library's 40th Anniversary than by using your voice to help save such a precious institution? Why not continue in Marguerite Hart's tradition and write a letter of your own and send it to your favorite library?
Now, enjoy today's selection of letters:

Letter to the Children of Troy from Dr. Suess, Theodore Geisel 
(Photo used with permission from Troy Public Library)
Letter to the Children of Troy from President Ronald Reagan 
"A world without books would be a world without light --without light, man cannot see. Through the written word a world of enlightenment has been created and has taught us about the past to enable us to build for the future.

Without spending a penny, one can travel to the ends of the earth, the depths of the oceans and now, though the infinity of space. One can learn a new trade or improve his skills in an old one, and the list is endless. The material offered by your library covers the span of interest from the youngest child even before he learns to read to the eldest of our senior citizens.

This library of the City of Troy will do all these things for you if you will only take the time to let it. You know, books are often our best friends. I congratulate your city on this new facility and wish you many hours of enjoyable reading." 
(Photos used with permission from Troy Public Library)

A Letter to the Children of Troy from E. B. White
"A library is many things. It's a place to go, to get in out of the rain. It's a place to go if you want to sit and think. But particularly it is a place where books live, and where you can get in touch with other people, and other thoughts, through books. If you want to find out about something, the information is in the reference books---the dictionaries, the encyclopedias, the atlases. If you like to be told a story, the library is the place to go. Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had. And when you are reading a book, you and the author are alone together---just the two of you. A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people---people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book." 
Children's Author, E. B. White 
(Photo used with permission from Troy Public Library)


  1. There are a few issue with today's post, couldn't seem to get it some of the spacing right, I sure tried (it must have something to do with working late on Friday night.)

    The Mom is very sympathetic to Troy Library since she is also turning 40 and would hate to have to close myself down with so many good years left ;)

    Hope you enjoy the amazing letters as much as we are!!

  2. WOW. Libraries are so important. These letters are just a reminder of things many people have forgotten. We looked at the website at the library adn there are so many. Thank you for sharing this, as you said, "treasure" with us. Will you post what you find about Troy library?


  3. These letters and the sentiments behind them are wonderful. We need libraries more than ever!