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How the custodians saved civilization

 


After roof collapse, HHS maintenance workers protect thousands of books

Earlier this week, Kathryn Holt, Havre High School's librarian, looked out over the hundreds of boxes, holding thousands of books, that were moved from the library to an old detention room after the roof over the library collapsed on Dec. 30. She compared the efforts of the school's custodial staff, who catalogued and moved all these boxes, to medieval monks off the coast of Ireland, as discussed in a book called "How the Irish Saved Civilization. " The monks preserved European history and learning during the dark ages.

"I cannot express how heroic, and I cannot stress that enough, the effort of the janitorial staff was in doing this, " Holt said.

She heard about the roof collapse less than an hour after it occurred and immediately came to the school to see what could be done to preserve the school's library, and the irreplaceable volumes in it.

After determining what most needed preservation, particularly the library's sections about Montana history and American Indians, the school's custodial staff worked tirelessly to organize the books. Entire shelves worth of books were boxed, labelled and moved to the school's old in-school suspension room. Holt said that first custodian Rose Cloninger worked on moving nearly 10,000 books for more than 18 hours.

"It was remarkable, " Holt said.

All of this effort was not just for the high school's students. The library there has been an asset to Havre and academic communities across Montana.

This year, the high school library joined the new Montana Shared Catalog, a searchable database of the catalogs of 118 libraries across the state. More libraries join regularly.

Looking at the database, Holt has seen there are several books that only the Havre High School library has.

This is no surprise, as the school has been actively expanding its library since it was established. This has led to a particularly interesting collection of literature on the history of Montana. Holt explained some of the highlights, including a massive 19th century history of the Montana territories and a collection of literature on regional history by "authors long-since deceased. "

The collections of books about American wars and American Indians are also of surprising quality for a public school library. Holt said that before the collapse, every few weeks would bring two or three people from the community, though anyone with a Havre-Hill County Library card can check out materials.

The quality of these collections has drawn interest from post-secondary educators, sometimes too much interest. Holt hinted at a story about nearly having to beat a door down at Montana State University-Northern, before getting the loaned item handed back through a barely opened door.

And now, thanks to the heroics of the Havre High School custodial staff, Holt may soon have the opportunity to kick some doors down again.

Earlier this week, Kathryn Holt, Havre High School's librarian, looked out over the hundreds of boxes, holding thousands of books, that were moved from the library to an old detention room after the roof over the library collapsed on Dec. 30. She compared the efforts of the school's custodial staff, who catalogued and moved all these boxes, to medieval monks off the coast of Ireland, as discussed in a book called "How the Irish Saved Civilization. " The monks preserved European history and learning during the dark ages.

"I cannot express how heroic, and I cannot stress that enough, the effort of the janitorial staff was in doing this, " Holt said.

She heard about the roof collapse less than an hour after it occurred and immediately came to the school to see what could be done to preserve the school's library, and the irreplaceable volumes in it.

After determining what most needed preservation, particularly the library's sections about Montana history and American Indians, the school's custodial staff worked tirelessly to organize the books. Entire shelves worth of books were boxed, labelled and moved to the school's old in-school suspension room. Holt said that first custodian Rose Cloninger worked on moving nearly 10,000 books for more than 18 hours.

"It was remarkable, " Holt said.

All of this effort was not just for the high school's students. The library there has been an asset to Havre and academic communities across Montana.

This year, the high school library joined the new Montana Shared Catalog, a searchable database of the catalogs of 118 libraries across the state. More libraries join regularly.

Looking at the database, Holt has seen there are several books that only the Havre High School library has.

This is no surprise, as the school has been actively expanding its library since it was established. This has led to a particularly interesting collection of literature on the history of Montana. Holt explained some of the highlights, including a massive 19th century history of the Montana territories and a collection of literature on regional history by "authors long-since deceased. "

The collections of books about American wars and American Indians are also of surprising quality for a public school library. Holt said that before the collapse, every few weeks would bring two or three people from the community, though anyone with a Havre-Hill County Library card can check out materials.

The quality of these collections has drawn interest from post-secondary educators, sometimes too much interest. Holt hinted at a story about nearly having to beat a door down at Montana State University-Northern, before getting the loaned item handed back through a barely opened door.

And now, thanks to the heroics of the Havre High School custodial staff, Holt may soon have the opportunity to kick some doors down again.

 

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