01 September 2023

Fort Custer Friday: The Library

Panaramic view of Camp Custer, courtesy of Library of Congress

Fort Custer Training Center has a long history of training troops in Michigan starting as Camp Custer. It was heavily used in World War II. It was used in World War I and some in the Korean War. Currently, it is used by the Michigan National Guard for training. 

In addition to the training facilities at Fort Custer, there is a historical society, the Fort Custer Historical Society (FCHS). FCHS has a museum that is in an old WWII barracks and a library.

Entrance to the Library, photographed by Brenda Leyndyke

The library is in Moran Hall. Moran Hall was a theater at one time and the library is in what would have been backstage. The Calhoun County Genealogical Society was visiting the museum and it was mentioned that they were looking for volunteers to help with the library. I was the President of the Calhoun Society and talked to the President of FCHS.  I asked if he was ready to have volunteers. I would be willing to find society members to help. Another woman, Jan, a retired school librarian, said she would be interested in helping. The rest, as they say, is history. It has been a long project with a two-year interruption because of COVID19.

The Beginning

Jan and I met with Colonel Spackman and walked through the library to see what needed to be done. The main thing was getting an inventory of materials. There were books, magazines, newspapers, postcards, photographs, and more. Jan and I started with inventorying the books. Jan and I were familiar with the Dewey Decimal System, and we decided to use that. We looked up every book in OCLC classify, recorded, labeled, and shelved all the books. Just when we thought we were done with the books, more boxes would show up. 

Magazines were inventoried next.

A rare books room holds items prior to the Korean War

Manuscript materials of individual soldiers are being processed.

Current shelving for books

Currently, the library is only available by appointment. Policies and procedures are being developed for board approval. The logistics haven't been worked out for creating a lending library.  If you are interested in visiting the library, please contact the Fort Custer Historical Society via their website.

I plan to use my blog to let others know what is available at the library. Check back on the first Friday of every month for more information. I will be sharing manuscript information, unique resources, vertical file topics, postcards, photographs, and more.

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