Our Impact: Preserving Local History at the Colon Township Library
Our Impact is a series of articles highlighting stories from our recent annual report in which we share some of the ways we've invested in our communities over our last fiscal year. We hope you find inspiration in these stories of needs met, people helped, organizations supported, and lives changed.
Preserving Local History at the Colon Township Library
The local history room at the Colon Township Library is a joint project between the Colon Historical Society and the Friends of the Colon Township Library.
The Historical Society has managed the community’s museum and growing collection for several decades. Their collection includes one-of-a-kind books, diaries, maps, newspapers, and other items that require special curation and, ideally, a controlled environment to preserve the materials.
The Colon Township Library also has many local history books and records in danger of deterioration, theft, and damage. With space available in their finished basement for a local history room, a joint venture to organize and preserve documents from the township’s library and the museum offered a perfect solution.
The Community Foundation provided funding for some of the most pressing needs, including storage and essential technology, including a computer, scanner/copier, and a security camera. With the community foundation grant and considerable “hands-on” assistance from local volunteers, a temperature-controlled secure room was created and furnished with shelving units.
The funding allowed for a computer to store historical information and have it all in one place for historians while also having a cloud-based backup in the event of a disaster. The scanner allows them to scan and save documents that families may let them borrow but with which they are unwilling to part. The security camera provides additional insurance to prevent and detect theft.
The Branch County Community Foundation grant jump-started this project. The Colon Historical Society and the Colon Township Library felt supported in this endeavor knowing that they had an ally in the Community Foundation that wanted to preserve, protect, and share local information just as much as they wanted to.
— Julie Censke, Colon Township Library
The Colon Township Library and the Colon Historical Society were able to leverage the funding from the Community Foundation to apply for and receive funding from “Save Michigan History” through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), carried out through the Michigan State Historical Records Advisory Board. The additional funding provided a traveling archivist’s guidance in room setup, collection care and maintenance, and other funding for archival supplies.
Currently, the Colon Township Library and the Colon Historical Society are working on transferring all books and documents from the museum to the new secure, environmentally stable local history room. The Historical Society members are also working to organize materials, work toward the digitization of collections, and create a space for researching local sources.
The local history room will be open to the public in the Summer of 2023.
Read more about the impact we're making in Branch County and Colon in our 2022 Annual Report and see what your donation dollars can achieve when you partner with the Branch County Community Foundation.