Exploring the Resources of The Dayton Metro Library
By Annie Bowers
I had forgotten the existence of truly quiet places until I settled into my back window seat at the Dayton Metro Library for the morning. It was an adjustment to my ears (and my semi-noisy habits) as I realized that even unpacking my bag sounded like it echoed throughout the mutually understood peace and quiet. Amazingly, the silence existed despite the overwhelming population density — at 10:00 on a Monday morning, the computer stations were already full and most of the tables were occupied with people reading the newspaper, engrossed in novels or studying.
I am sheepishly ashamed to admit that I was surprised at the number of people busying themselves at the library on a weekday morning. In a technological era rampant with “places to go and things to do” I wondered if the general public really took time to read, much less go to the library anymore. Let the record show: I stand corrected.
Once I acclimated to my surroundings, I started exploring, and (feeling somewhat like the new girl on the block) wondered if it were obvious that this was my first time here. I figured the first logical step was to get a library card: it took an easy five minutes to fill out the application, have them scan the barcode on the back of my shiny new card, and turn me loose to start browsing. And I must say, there is something exhilarating about having a library card in your pocket — it’s like having an all-access pass to learn about anything you can possibly imagine — and it’s free!
As I wandered through the stacks, I discovered seemingly endless genres from Fiction to African American Literature, Travel, Art, Photography and World Religions. The Self Help section suggests titles such as Get a Life That Doesn’t Suck by Michelle DeAngelis or The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky. High school students might find solace in the section devoted to how to get into college, apply for financial aid and even — you guessed it — how to study. History buffs can enjoy volumes from a featured display entitled “Robber Barons — Capitalists and Capitalism in America, 1865-1929” which includes a biography on the life of Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Notably, the main floor of the library contains an area directly inside the main entrance called “Fast Reads/New Books” which is perfect for those who might want to pop in and grab a light, quick read. In addition, toward the center of the main floor on several small-tiered tables I found books that fell into more unique categories; one display sign boasted: “Cold outside? Warm up with a good book!” and included titles such as Hot, Hot, Hot – Cooking with Fire and Spice, a cookbook by Paul Gayler and The Last of the Red-Hot Vampires, a fiction novel by Katie MacAlister. (The spicy cookbook did actually end up coming home with me…) The main floor also features a Bargain Bookshelf of hardcover books and paperbacks for sale ($1-2 each) and a sizable Teen Fiction area.
Upstairs is a Children’s Room with books for children of all ages, as well as Early Literacy computers offering educational games for children ages 3-9. There is a DVD/CD Area with a separate room that hosts computer classes covering topics from email basics to Internet basics and Facebook, and an auditorium where special events take place. Library events cover a wide range of interests including “Take and Make Winter Craft” sessions and seminars such as “Nonprofit Boards: Minding the Business While Changing the World,” which is part of the library’s nonprofit networking lunch-and-learn series.
My favorite hidden gem of the library is contained on the lower level: an entire section devoted to Local History and Genealogy. Reference Librarian Lisa Rickey spoke with me about some of the Local History treasures, including an extensive collection of photographs from the 1913 Flood, manuscripts and letters from local Daytonians such as famed canal engineer Samuel Forrer, and photography collections by William Lutzenberger dating back to the turn of the 20th century.
Rickey stated, “One of my personal favorites is our manuscript collection: letters and diaries of local people who have donated them to the library. I’ve personally read something that dates back to 1750, but most of it is from the early 1800s.” Rickey has also been responsible for digitizing historic slides and photographs and uploading them to the library’s website. She even put together a Google map of Dayton with an overlay of black and white thumbnail photographs from the 1913 Flood, “pinning” each photo onto the area of Dayton in which it was taken.
Clint Lowell, a Library Technical Assistant, informed me that the library has newspapers and microfiche dating back to 1808, records of government documents and patents and a popular and extensive Genealogy section where individuals can trace their family lineage in any of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Another display that caught my eye in the Local History section was a glass case housing a large bound volume of Dayton Daily News publications from fifty years ago. Every day in 2012 the oversized book will be open to today’s news and headlines from 1862, reminding locals how much the city has changed in the last half century.
The Dayton Metropolitan Library has a little something for everyone, whether you’re a local history buff, an aspiring college student hoping to learn a few admission tricks, or a photography lover looking to learn more about your fancy new digital camera. Come “check out” all that the library has to offer – you’ll be amazed at the treasures waiting between the stacks.
For more information about the Dayton Metropolitan Library’s collections and programs, please visit the Main Library located at the corner of Third and St. Clair streets downtown or one of their branches located throughout the region. Additional library information and an event schedule are available online at www.daytonmetrolibrary.org.
Reach DCP freelance writer Annie Bowers at AnnieBowers@DaytonCityPaper.com.