Knowledge Is Power

By Kathy M.

Thinking about “The Library” brings back so many wonderful memories of my childhood! As a child, a book received as a birthday or Christmas gift was treasured. And the local library opened the doors to the wonderful world of books as I visited frequently and read and re-read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Lad, A Dog as well as Carolyn Haywood’s Annie Pat and Eddie series and Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins series.

The Detroit Public Library’s Jefferson Branch was a frequent destination being only a few blocks from home. I can recall many summer days riding my bike to the library and borrowing the maximum 10 books, which filled the basket on my handlebars, and then heading home to spend time reading on our sunlit front porch over the next couple days. I still remember the orange biography series The Childhood of Famous Americans that introduced me to our country’s history.

During my junior high and high school years, the library’s reference books and periodicals collection were often used to do research for papers. I still remember when I drove to the main Detroit Public Library to do research for a high school paper on the poet John Keats and saw the building for the first time…it was so big and impressive…and there were so many departments filled with books!!

While attending Wayne State University, the resources of both the WSU Libraries and DPL were at my fingertips. Just before my junior year, I began working in Purdy Library as a student assistant and came to know and use their collections to enhance the knowledge gained in my classes. Across the street at the DPL, I came across the treasure trove of the Burton Historical Collection when I decided to trace my family’s history. Many hours were spent pouring through the county histories and census registers as I identified my ancestors and documented my family’s lineage back to the founding of Detroit on my father’s side and back to the Mayflower on my mother’s side.

The Library remains an integral part of my life. I still borrow books and enjoy reading. I joined the Friends of the Library in my community. In support of my various interests, whenever I travel, I visit public and university libraries across the country to do research. Following my interest in Detroit history, I’ve been leading tours through the main Detroit Public Library, sharing its history, the building’s history, and its special collections. I love to point out the motto over its main entrance: Knowledge is Power. How true!

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