By CYNTHIA KMETT
It’s was National Library Week last week, but Troy Public Library Director Cathy Russ says she likes to think of every week as “library week.”
Libraries today have come a long way from their founding, even in Troy. It was back in 1959 that the Troy City Commission appointed a ten-member Library Committee to investigate the possibility of a library for Troy. Three months later, Troy’s first library, the Troy Public Library Reading Room, opened in two rooms in the old Troy High School (now the Troy Community Center) with a collection of 1,000 books. At that point, Troy had a population of just over 20,000 residents and no Golden Corridor along Big Beaver. Most of the books had been collected from the residents by volunteers, like former Mayor Jeanne Stine and Claire Blankenship.
As the City’s population grew, so did the Library’s collection. By 1965, the Library outgrew its space in the high school and moved its 2,450 items to a storefront building at 61 East Square Lake Road and Livernois. In 1967, the Library moved to an even bigger location at 5044 Rochester Road, north of Long Lake.
By 1970, Troy’s population had more than doubled in 10 years to over 39,000, and the Troy Library collection had expanded to 22,282 items. Due to Troy’s continuing population boom, the Troy City Commission voted to fund construction for a new permanent library building via 30-year bonds in 1968.
The groundbreaking for the new Troy Public Library in the Troy Civic Center on Big Beaver and I-75 was on January 24, 1970. Construction continued throughout that year. On May 16, 1971, the Troy Public Library opened its doors for the first time to the public. The entire Library stood in the space occupied by the current Youth area.
By 1980, Troy’s population continued to explode, with over 67,000 residents calling the city their home. By 1983, the Library attracted over 46,000 patrons and circulated 552,083 items.
In 1982, the Friends of the Troy Public Library petitioned the City Council to fund an expansion to the Library. The Friends also applied to the Kresge Foundation for a Challenge Grant and fundraised $65,000 for the expansion.
In the Fall of 1982, construction on the library expansion began, which built the circulation, and adult services area. The new expansion opened to the public in Spring 1985. But times change and so did the Troy Library.
By 2004 The Troy Library was ranked No. 1 in Michigan among libraries serving populations of 50,000 or more by Hennen’s Public Library Rating Index.
By 2010 Hennen’s ranked it the 10th best library in the nation.
Today, there are still a lot of books at the library, but many of them are ebooks so you don’t even have to go there to get them; just download them to your favorite electronic device. They offer classes on how to download all the new electronic offerings. There are reading groups that meet to discuss everything from mysteries to non-fiction best sellers. Some groups even take their groups to popular eateries for their discussions.
The Children’s area is big and bright and has its own story area, where friendly pets come to hear the stories, too. There’s a teen area, too; even a teen advisory board.
Don’t have a great computer of your own? The library has a room full of them you can use. Have an electronic device that has you stumped? There’s someone at the tech desk that can help you figure it out.
The Friends of the Troy Library supports most of the programs at the library, from fun topics to problems with finances and even the opioid addiction crisis. The Friends earn the funds for these programs at their gift shop and in the Used Book Store. You can donate your old books (sorry, no textbooks) and magazines (less than one-year-old) to the store.
There’s a full calendar of programs at the Troy Library. Just go to troypl.org and click on the calendar. You’ll be surprised at how many times you might want to visit. It’s all part of their plan to keep us learning, and they make it easy and fun.