Keepers of the Flame: A Love Letter to Libraries

Libraries have been one of the loves of my life for years. I was fortunate to be a military librarian for over 30 years and I still volunteer as a librarian for the USS Midway (CV-41) Research Library. I thought that I’d celebrate military libraries with a re-posting of this library tribute from the U.S Naval Academy website.

I learned about this website from a recent Scuttlebutt Vol 6, issue 3, 11 February 2021, edited by Carl Snow, put out bi-weekly for the library volunteers and other interested members of the USS Midway.

The real Keepers of the Flame are libraries. There are two categories of libraries worthy of your consideration:  genealogy libraries and military/naval history libraries. What to send to each? That is certainly up to you, but I suggest you contact them first to see if they would welcome your treasures, your documents, your artifacts. Our Naval Academy Nimitz Library is one of the best, and Dr.Jennifer Bryan maintains its Special Collections and Archives. Here is the web site entry about such donations from another major military library, the Navy Department Library (under the Naval History and Heritage Command) at the Washington Navy Yard: 

The Navy Library is open to the public and provides resources vital to the writing and publishing of naval history, as well as information relating to the needs of today’s Navy. The library catalog is online, and the library posts numerous publications, documents and subject presentations on the Naval History & Heritage Command’s Website. The library’s collection continues to expand thanks to the installation of compact mobile shelving and materials acquired from Navy offices, private individuals, and organizations such as the Naval Historical Foundation. Significant holdings have been obtained from disestablished libraries (including Naval Air Systems and the Navy Judge Advocate General), as well as from libraries whose collections have been downsized (such as the State Department). Over 13% of the book titles in the library are unique in the international OCLC (Worldcat) database.

Materials that enhance the Archives’ collections and support the research of U.S. Navy personnel, historians, scholars, and other researchers are greatly appreciated. Please email if you have material you are interested in donating. Do not send unsolicited material. 

What type of items are of interest? The question is, what items do you have? Email the library to see if they would welcome your items into their collection, which includes:

From the front page of the Scuttlebutt Vol 6, issue 3, 11 February 2021

Some of your items almost certainly relate to family history. Genealogy libraries are well known to researchers, perhaps not so much to the general public.  For example, the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) is considered one of the ten destination libraries for genealogy, as is the Birmingham [Alabama] Public Library and the Detroit Public Library – do a search for top genealogy libraries. Vertical files can hold collections that are not bound– and LAPL even has its own bindery. If you were to send them loose pages of your unpublished biography, they will bind it and enter it into their collection–and WorldCat. Check with your local library and talk to the Genealogy Librarian, let them know what you have. They are so much more interested in your holdings than your kids!

10 thoughts on “Keepers of the Flame: A Love Letter to Libraries”

  1. Last year, one of my sons turned up here one weekend with a high-end video recorder. He spent several hours going through old photograph albums with me and recording what I had to say about the people in the photos. But in the older albums there were lots of people I couldn’t identify, and no one is still alive who might know who they were.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I echo your love and appreciation for libraries – and people often don’t realise how many kinds there are. In my career I worked for a short time in an academic library, did a placement in a ‘special’ library which was for an equal opportunities organisation and then have spent most of my career in a public library.

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  3. Nice variety, Andrea. I set up a library for a Department of Defense contractor because the contract required it. I then spent a number of years working first in a post library and then an academic library. I volunteered in a public library in GA where I recorded the newspaper for the Talking Book Program and I was a volunteer cataloger for a one-person library at the UVA Center for Public Administration. Just can’t get away from libraries (I’m happy to say.) Now I do some long distance volunteering for the USS Midway Research Library.


  4. During WWII and even Vietnam, there were officers or even enlisted men with MLS who did serve as librarians. Nowadays the Army may have a few in academic libraries, but most of the military librarians I know are actually civilian servants like I was. Most are GS-Title 5s, a few are Title 10s which are more academic and term appointments. Sorry to have inadvertently misled you. I knew one AF officer who had an MLS and did research in the early 2000s–he was doing a big research project on 100 years of military aviation which began in 1909 at Ft Myer in Arlington, VA.


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