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June 25, 2002

The other day, I wrote a bit about an article in the current edition of The Oklahoma Chronicles, the official quarterly magazine published by the Oklahoma Historical Society. That article concerned a soon-to-be-published book written by Denzel D. Garrison of Bartlesville, father of Mrs. Marty Collins of Perry. The book tells about Oklahoma’s 45th (National Guard) Division and its derivatives, and their participation in the Korean conflict a few decades ago. In that same edition of The Chronicles is another story of local interest because it concerns our Carnegie Library.

The article was written by Tanya D. Finchum and G. Allen Finchum, both faculty members at Oklahoma State University. The magazine relates that in the early 20th century, Andrew Carnegie funded the construction of 24 libraries in Oklahoma (including Perry), providing places for residents to learn, to read, and to be entertained. The Finchums invite readers to celebrate 100 years of Carnegie’s presence in Oklahoma and to honor the communities’ commitment to the library spirit.

The first Carnegie library in Oklahoma was the one built in Oklahoma City in 1900, seven years before Oklahoma became a state. In l907 Mr. Carnegie was persuaded to award $10,000 for construction of a library in the courthouse park to serve the city of Perry, and that building stands proudly today after a major renovation that substantially increased its usefulness. The story of our library, and the other Carnegie libraries in this state, is a dramatic and fascinating tale in The Chronicles. To Perry’s credit, we have preserved and improved our Carnegie library unlike Enid and Ponca City, our sister cities in the Cherokee Strip, who have razed their original Carnegie libraries, which seems like a colossal blunder and a loss to me. I’m glad our Carnegie library building still sits majestically in the courthouse park. Read the Chronicles’ complete article for more information about Oklahoma libraries.

While on this subject, I want to add something about the recent retirement of Dr. Charles Martin from the Perry Library Board, the group that oversees functions of the library through monthly meetings and oversight in several areas. Records at City Hall indicate that Dr. Martin has served ten years on the board, plus an additional stint as a sort of “watchdog” when the renovation project was underway a few years ago. Toni Miller, current president of the library board, pointed to Dr. Martin’s tenure and his dedication to service as exemplified by his service on the board, and Danielle Shreve, librarian, also spoke highly of Dr. Martin’s contributions.

I have had the good fortune to be associated with Dr. Martin in several areas of interest and I know how dedicated he is to such non-paying jobs. He is the most serious-minded person I know, yet he has a sense of humor that lightens – and sometimes enlightens – the panels on which he serves. The library board will miss him, but we can hope that he will return to serve in that capacity at an early date.