In an age when people are glued to their smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices, Anita Ness of Paris says that libraries remain a vital part of society.
As the Paris Friends of the Library gathered for its annual meeting Thursday night in the basement of the Paris Library, Ness that people continue to join the library at a brisk clip, and that use remains robust. The Paris Library is part of the Little Dixie Library System, which is based in Moberly with libraries in Madison, Paris and Huntsville.
Hess reported that the library system issues 928 new library cards in 2016, with more than more than 185,000 items checked out during the year.
"We have lots of people using the library, and let’s encourage more," she said. "Our own library is well-staffed."
After electing officers for this coming year and hearing about summer reading programs at the library, Missouri author Ross Malone presented a program entitled; "Missouri’s Forgotten Heroes"
Malone, who been a teacher for more 30 years, has worked as a radio host, and published more than a dozen books about Missouri. His books have been featured in "Missouri Life Magazine," in the Good Books section. His Missouri history column "Back in the Day" is published weekly in newspapers across the state.
Among the Missouri heroes he discussed was 1st Lt. Harold Schrier. During World War II, he supervised the Marines who planted a flag on Mount Suribachi during the bloody battle for Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945. who led the United States Marines to plant the flag at Iwo Jima.
Prior to raising the flag, Schrier, a native of Corder, Mo., led a 40-man charge up the barren 556-foot landscape to capture Mount Suribachi. After gaining control, he men raised the flag and made famous in a photo taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press. The raising of the flag is depicted at the Marine Corps War Memorial, located just outside the gates of Fort Myer, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The Missouri native was awarded a Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest military award, and went on to retire as a lieutenant colonel from the Marines.
Malone also shared the story of Phelim O’Toole, a St. Louis innovative firefighter best known for saving 12 people during a famous fire at the Southern Hotel in 1877.
The Southern Hotel was a six-story luxury hotel that had over 300 guests on the tragic night of April 11, 1877. When fire broke out, a number of people became trapped on the upper floors, unable to escape the flames. O´Toole arrived on the scene aboard a "Skinner escape truck" (an early hook and ladder pulled by horses). Seeing people trapped above the reach of the longest ladder, which would only reach five stories. Malone said that O´Toole instructed them to lower bedsheets tied to bedposts in his direction. He then swung out on a rope, grabbed hold of the bed sheet and climbed up to the smoke-filled room. Next, he lowered the individuals to safety below. While 21 people would die in the fire, O´Toole rescued 12 from certain death.
Out of gratitude for his actions, the citizens of St. Louis awarded him a check for $500, an amount more than six times his monthly salary. O´Toole donated the money to help orphans.