OPL Milan branch has grand opening

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

“It’s been a labor of love for future generations,” said Osgood Public Library Board President Gene Pitts at the grand opening of the Osgood Public Library Milan Branch on Sunday, June 27. The newly constructed library was built on land donated by former Milan school teacher Mabel Lamb and was the vision of a few who realized the need for a library in Milan.

According to Anita Pitts, one of the early members of the Milan Library Project Committee, the idea of a library in the Milan school district was first discussed at a meeting in 1992. After that initial meeting, several hours of planning and meeting with local organizations and business owners helped to generate interest in a library for the district.

One such champion was Mabel Lamb, who donated $50,000 for start up money for a matching grant as well as donating the land for the library.

While learning how to establish a library in the district, the committee discovered that there were not enough people in the district according to state regulations. On a hunch, Pitts stopped at the Osgood Public Library and spoke to then library director Don Rice at length about the project.

Rice invited the committee to make a presentation to the board, who then decided to create a branch library in Milan.

After many legal steps at both the local and state levels, Milan became a part of the Osgood Library District on November 1, 1999, in a building donated by Fifth Third Bank. “Lesson is,” said Pitts, “if you don’t ask you won’t get it.”

Special speakers at the grand opening ceremony included Milan native and author Greg Schwipps, author of What This River Keeps. According to Schwipps, his first experience with a library was at the elementary school library where he proceeded to read every book about turtles.

“It was because of his love of books and the encouragement from the school librarian that he wrote his first book at age 9 called Snapper Pond.

“This building is a crucial link in the chain of learning for children,” said Schwipps. “It could and should start here.”

Cindy McKittrick from the Fifth Third Bank urged parents to instill the passion for reading to their children. “The staff of Fifth Third Bank are proud to support the Milan Community,” said McKittrick. “We are thankful for the hard work and dedication of those who worked to make the dream a reality.

Jeanette Mount from Congressman Baron Hill’s office explained that her love of books started in a small library in Scott County. “It is my belief that if you can read, you can do anything,” she said.

For more information on library services or hours of operation, visit www.osgoodlibrary.org or call the Osgood branch at 812-689-4011 or the Milan branch at 812-654-1963.

“Reading is important,” said Schwipps. “What happens here in this library is important.”

Arika Haney, a 7th grader at Milan Middle School, peruses the stacks at the Milan Library grand opening held on Sunday, June 27. According to Library Director Emily Kruse, the library will benefit those in the community and the schools.