Latham Legacy Kept Alive Through Award Winning Collection of Books at Wood Place Public Library

Wood Place Public Library, California, Director Connie Walker, left, with Ken Latham, right, who has created and funded a collection of award winning books for the library to honor the Latham family legacy.

Wood Place Public Library, California, Director Connie Walker, left, with Ken Latham, right, who has created and funded a collection of award winning books for the library to honor the Latham family legacy. Photo by John Inman.

Ken Latham said the idea of creating a collection of award winning books for Wood Place Public Library, California, came from his cousin Caroline Latham, an author and former resident of California, who also did extensive ghostwriting for other authors.

Latham is the son of Dr. Kenyon and Norma Latham. Dr. Latham owned and ran the Latham Hospital until it closed in 1970 and continued an office practice until 1985. The hospital, built by Latham's great-uncle Dr. L.L. Latham, was opened in 1926 when "Dr. Lank" moved his medical practice to California from Latham.

Latham resides in Maplewood, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., and retired two years ago after teaching chemistry for 35 years at Century College, St. Paul. His brother David Latham resides in New York City, N.Y.

"Latham has provided funding to purchase a collection of prize winning books," Wood Place Public Library Director Connie Walker said. "These include the National Book awards, Pulitzer Prize Awards, The Nobel Prize in literature, the Caldecott, Newbery and James Beard Cookbook awards. They are books every library should have and the funding has meant access to these books for all of our patrons. We have purchased books that won awards from 1995 to 2011. Once we purchase and do the processing to each book, we then place a book plate, name of the ward and a spine label."

Latham said he remembers his mother spending a lot of evenings volunteering at the library when it was located in the former home of Ella Wood and Col. John Paegelow which was given to the First Christian Church, California, along with an endowment to establish a library. Although none of the Latham family resides in Moniteau County, the family has lived in the area since the 1840's. Latham said this was a way to keep the family's legacy alive.

Walker said the collection continues to circulate and is very popular. She added this is a collection of timeless subjects. It contains fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children's books, science and cooking. She said the collection is contained in an attractive oak bookcase that people find appealing.

"I guess I have always appreciated good books," Latham said. "I like reading so I wanted to give other people the opportunity to read from a collection of high quality, award winning books. That is something I think a library should have available for the people who like to read good books."

Latham said even though he lives in Minnesota, he still feels an attachment for the area and likes leaving something in return for "what I received growing up and living here."

Latham added it is a good feeling seeing the town thriving and looking well. Having someone give back in the way Latham has is special according to Walker.

"I think the Lathams are very special people who have not forgotten their roots," Walker said. "A Collection like this mean so much to a small, rural library with limited funding. We appreciate Ken's generosity and are proud to keep the Latham family's legacy alive through this collection. I invite you to come and see the intriguing books in this collection. They are here for you to check out and enjoy."

Wood Place Public Library is located at 501 South Oak Street. For more information about Wood Place Public Library, call 573-796-2642 or go to www.woodplacelibrary.org.

Walker said if you would like to receive the quarterly newsletter and updates on events at the library, you may do so by sending your email address to librarian@woodplacelibrary.org and it will be added to the database.

For more great stories check out the May 2 issue of the California Democrat.

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