Military history

TORRINGTON – If you have an interest in military history, the Goshen County Library Activity Center is the place to be June 6 – 7.

The Goshen County Library Foundation – a non-profit organization that supports library programs, including Summer Reading and special events throughout the year – will host a massive, two-day sale, featuring everything from magazines to complete anthologies spanning the period from the Civil War to the modern War on Terror.

The core of the sale represents the collection of the late Lt. Col. Craig Dreier. Col. Dreier was passionate about military history, including the people and the equipment that went to war, and amassed a collection of hundreds of books and magazines.

It was all donated to the library last fall by Dreier’s wife, Marsha, to preserve and share her late-husband’s passion and love.

“He was very interested in ships, tanks and aircraft,” said Janan McCreery, Foundation vice president. “We have an incredible amount of material.”

The timing of the sale was carefully thought out, McCreery said, to coincide with the 76th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied landing on the beaches of Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. The D-Day landings marked a significant turning point in World War II and given the focus of the collection, commemorating the event seemed logical, she said.

“This was such a niche collection, we thought we should have a separate book sale,” McCreery said. “We thought about it – why not put it in line with the commemoration of D-Day, June 6?”

The Dreier collection filled 40 boxes, McCreery and Cristine Braddy, library director, said. But the collection for the sale has grown from that original gift. 

The Library Foundation typically hosts three general book sales each year. As volunteers were sorting through regular donations, they started looking for anything with a military focus

“Once we started with the core collection, people got wind of the fact,” McCreery said. “We had donations from a lot of estates, so we started holding out anything that pertained to the military, the people, the equipment. Those donations supplemented the original collection.”

The library recently completed an extensive renovation project, Braddy said. As part of that project, staff and volunteers poured over the regular collection, adding any military-themed books to the collection for the June 6 sale.

“And some of the donations became part of the regular library collection,” Braddy said. “We looked and filled in some gaps in our collection, things we know patrons will check out.

“We had some gaps in our collection about World War II,” she said. “So there’s some places where we took books from this collection to fill those gaps.”

While much of the collection is centered on history, there were a few pieces that surprised McCreery and Braddy, they said. These take more of a ‘What If?’ look at the past.

 “I know these are college essays,” McCreery said. “My son had to write an essay on ‘What if Jefferson had not made the Louisiana Purchase?’

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, how thought provoking.’” she said. “I didn’t know this category even existed.”

And there will be books in the sale on a theme that might make some people uncomfortable, they said. The collection includes several books focused on World War II from the perspective of Nazi Germany and the Third Reich.

A great deal of thought was given to including those histories and stories in the collection, McCreery said. In the end, though, they decided they had to, because it’s part of the story, she said.

“We felt that’s part of the history of World War II,” McCreery said. “It is information about the SS, about the German military, and some accounts of specific battles.

“We realized, that might be upsetting to some people,” she said. “But, it’s also a huge factor in the history of World War II.”

In conjunction with the sale, the Goshen County Library will be hosting an open house to show off its recent renovations, Braddy said. There will be tables in the parking lot between the library and the Activity Center, where people can sign up for the Summer Reading Program, get new or replacement library cards, and more.

“The library is open now, 12 to 3 p.m. every day,” Braddy said. “We’re only opening for short periods so we can staff the library and keep up with cleaning and quarantining of books. Eventually, we’ll start adding more hours.”


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