The Village Library in Morgantown commemorated its 50th anniversary by honoring two surviving founding members, Mary Bamberger and Sylvia Firth, on Aug. 12.
These two local heroines helped to get the library started in Morgantown, despite people telling them that it would be too difficult. The event was joined with the Summer Reading Finale “Every Hero has a Story.”
How fitting that it was a packed house that carried the day. More than 200 people, including babes in arms, toddlers, teens and adults, came out to see the library founders and see visitors from the Philly Zoo.
“This is Hero Headquarters for a day,” said the Children’s Librarian Pam Mohl.
She runs the local Village Summer Reading Program. Participating children were given tickets as they advanced in their reading program and were included in a display on the Hero board. They placed their tickets in jars to win prizes that were donated from the community. The more tickets the better their chance to win.
Mary Ellen Mahan, library board member, introduced Bamburger and Firth. After a brief ceremony the women spoke to the crowd of those long ago dreams and how belief and perseverance had been brought to the reality reflected in the faces of the children and adults. The library was alive that day as they had always pictured it would be.
Bamberger reminded the crowd, “The Reading Library 50 years ago said we couldn’t do it! But they didn’t know us!”
The children had decorated cards for the founders. A large cake was waiting to be cut to serve the crowd.
Charlene Sagner from Morgantown, an active member, said, “In addition to each of them picking out a book to be added to the library collection in their honor, we also collected donations to honor them at a wine and cheese event at a future date.”
Then staff members from the Philadelphia Zoo on Wheels stepped up to the mic as the children sitting cross legged in the front rows on the floor giggled, and stretched their necks waiting in expectation. Behind the table were cages tucked carefully in position to be brought out at just the right moment. The children were told they could not touch the animals but she had brought some things that they could touch later.
Children looked at four groups of animals: bugs, birds, reptiles, and mammals. First out of the cage was a huge cockroach, a hissing cockroach from Madagascar that rested on her finger. The first question, “Can I touch it?” came from a small boy. “No.” came the answer.
The children were informed that cockroaches have sticky feet and antenna to feel and often have a symbiotic relationship with other animals like mites that can live on top of them. They can live 10 days without their heads, they breathe through their legs and like all bugs they eat decomposing leaves and matter.
Next out of a hidden cage came a large corn snake, the reptile. The snake enjoyed wrapping its body around the woman’s arms and neck.
The crowd was told that these snakes can eat an animal three times its size, they dislocate their jaws and swallow it whole. Bacteria in their gut digest things. They are nocturnal and are active at night when their prey like mice are active. Snakes have forked tongues and hear things trough vibrations as they crawl along and they have scales that are like fingernails. They shed their skins just like we change our clothes they change their skin. The kids were in awe of the creature.
Next appeared Stella, a white ringed necked female Dove on the staffer’s finger for all to see.
They were told that birds regulate their temperature by ruffling their outer feathers and the small feathers close to their bodies. They could also name several types of birds that can’t fly like the penguin, emu, and ostrich.
“How long will it live?” asked a little girl. “Maybe 15-20 years. Birds like parrots have even longer life spans,” came the answer.
Camilla the Armadillo was the mammal on display, a great crowd pleaser. From her nice box of dirt she was taken out and sat on the carpet in the front of the room rolled up in a ball. Soon she woke up.
She had hair, a tail, and feet which curled up into her hard shell that fit around her body to protect her. Mammals are warm blooded, have hair, floppy ears and give birth to live young. Camilla was soon walking around the front of the room on her toes. Most armadillos are native to Central and South America however, some are found in Texas and Mexico. She was the hit of the show.
Now it was time to touch and the children were given owl and peacock feathers and a 18-20 foot long python pelt, which the kids called out, ”Oh weird, disgusting.” Then came a beautiful leopard pelt, this was a fun time.
Mahan began to cut the large cake and the kids washed their hands and lined up for hot dogs, chips, and drinks.
“What a wonderful and rewarding day seeing all these children,” Firth said.
Firth is a graduate of Millersville College. Her father and her teacher Miss Montello inspired her to love books and read and go to college to become a librarian. She was married and had three children. As the librarian for Twin Valley Schools she developed an elementary reading program.
The Morgantown Women’s Club, with about 15 members, took on the formation of a town library as a project. They started in a township owned building on Mill Road. When the township sold the building they started a capital campaign, gathered contributions from the community and applied for state funding.
In 1965 the Village Library was born serving the Chester, Berks and Lancaster counties with a full time paid librarian.
Mahan, a current board member, shares in the joy of the library as a mainstay of the community.
“Reading keeps you mentally alert, a true reader has no box, you blow up the box, you create the characters, and landscape in your mind, if you can dream it, you can make it happen,” said Mahan.
Village Library‘s Sponsors of Summer Reading Prizes
Pampered Chef Consultant Andi Colmery, Thirty One Representative Jennifer Waldron, Tastefully Simple Consultant: Mandy Hinke, Walmart of Elverson, Petersheim Bros. Inc. Well Drilling, Autozone of Elverson, Sheetz of Morgantown, BB’s of Morgantown ,Carl Wingard, Giant of Exeter, Glass Upholstery, Morgantown Eye Care, Shady Maple Farm Market, The Yocum Institute and The Miller Center