Piqua Public Library’s local history department re-opens


By Amantha Garpiel

For Miami Valley Today

PIQUA – The Piqua Public Library’s local history section officially re-opened on Aug. 14 after approximately two months of being closed for reorganization for the purpose of preserving and protecting the materials held in the department.

The re-opening of the local history department of the library comes with a few changes that patrons can expect to see when visiting the department in search of information.

One of the first changes is new Local History Archivist Andy Hite, who started with the library in the beginning of July 2023 after retiring from Johnston Farm and Indian Agency.

“I think getting to still do history. I’m excited to get people learning more about our area and learning about their family histories and all that sort of stuff,” said Hite when asked what he looks forward to most with the department.

Hite taught history for 14 years and recently retired from Johnston Farm and Indian Agency after 30 years as the site manager there.

The first change to how patrons can access the information is that the department is now utilizing what are called “closed stacks.” Having closed stacks means that patrons will no longer be able to enter the department and search through the documents and historical books for information on their own, though it is still easily accessible.

“Stephenie (Rostron, director of the Piqua Public Library) decided we wanted to do what they call a closed stack, because when you have open stacks, people can just come in and get what they want and that is hard on the materials,” said Hite.

Since having numerous people handle such sensitive materials can be hard on the resources, patrons are now required to make an appointment by calling the library or coming in to the Local History Department. The purpose of the transition to closed stacks is to preserve and protect the integrity of all of the materials and resources stored in the library’s local history department.

When requesting their appointment, patrons will be asked to inform local history staff of what they are looking for and the staff will then schedule the patron’s appointment and find and prepare the materials for the patron to view in the new reading room during their appointment.

Patrons can also visit https://forms.office.com/r/huzzT6QT73 to fill out the department’s appointment request form. After submitting the form, patrons can expect to receive a call from the local history department to set a date and time for the appointment.

“One of the things that Stephenie wanted to do was to reorganize this department so that we could preserve and protect the resources that we have,” said Hite.

This reorganization not only allows the staff to monitor the use and condition of the resources but to better store the items to maintain their integrity.

The local history department of the Piqua Public Library contains a wide range of historical information including information on local residents and families, newspaper articles, yearbooks, local business information, house files on most of the homes in Piqua, some genealogy guides and materials, some information of Piqua, Miami County, Miami Valley and different counties in Ohio, and much more. Also available for patron use are microfilm readers to view different records stored on microfilm such as old newspaper editions from newspapers like the Piqua Daily Call or census records from various years.

According to Hite, another aspect of this project is going to be digitizing a lot of the materials. Digitizing the materials and allowing access to them online will expand the reach of the materials to individuals outside the immediate Piqua area along with further preserving the materials by having less individuals handling older resources. The digitizing process has yet to begin, but the department hopes to begin the process soon.

With the local history department re-opening, the hours for the department are now Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Currently there are two full-time staff members in the local history department and 10 volunteers that each work two, three and a half hour shifts per week. For anyone interested in volunteering, call the Piqua Public Library at 937-773-6753 or email the local history department at [email protected] .

The writer is a regular contributor of Miami Valley Today.

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