"Mighty Mo" Crew's Library
The Crew's Library of the USS Missouri provided literature and a quiet respite for naval personnel from 1944 to 1992. The little library floated upon the waters near the shores of Japan, Brazil, Korea, and the Persian Gulf before its battleship was decommissioned (the second and last time) on March 31st, 1999 (USS Missouri Memorial Association, 2019).
The "Battleship Missouri Crew Library" is located on the second deck and can be viewed from the doorway. The ship's Chaplain was responsible for cleaning and maintaining the library, a library that serviced approximately 2,700 personnel at any given time (Alex, 2019).
Navy personnel could relax and write letters home or peruse the "carefully chosen books" (USS Missouri Memorial Association, 2019) that could "widen the knowledge gained by daily experience" upon the ship (USS Missouri Memorial Association, 2019).
A modest circulation desk stands by the door to the hallway, where the Chaplain's typewriter and book care supplies were stored. Several card catalogues adorn the walls where sailors could search for books and resources. The collection is housed on steel shelves beside metal tables and chairs for reading and writing. A logbook for circulation sits upon the Chaplain's desk, full of patron names and the reading materials they checked out over the forty-eight years the library was in operation.
The collections were changed based on the missions and area where the ship was being deployed. On large battleships like the USS Missouri, the Chaplain had two or three crew members to assist him in the running of the library (Train, 1922, p. 130). Sailors appreciated the distraction that reading provided and so the library was considered an important part of boosting the crew's morale while deployed (Train, 1922).
I did not expect to find a fully-functioning library on the battleship. I obviously knew that reading would be a part of the sailors' recreational time, but I never envisioned the logistics of acquiring reading material during deployment. As I strained over the doorway barrier, the classification of the non-fiction section made me smile. Good old Dewey. In a place so far away from anything resembling normal life, small reminders of home, such as the familiar organization of a library, were probably appreciated and comforting. This is just another instance of libraries being welcoming and safe places, even upon chaotic waters surrounded by war.
The restoration of the Crew's Library was generously funded by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Carter, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the USS Missouri Memorial Association.
Alex, D. (2019, June 4). USS Missouri (BB-63). Retrieved from https://www.militaryfactory.com/ships/detail.asp?ship_id=USS-Missouri-BB63
Train, C. (1922). Libraries in the navy. Bulletin of the American Library Association, 16(4), 129-131. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25686038
USS Missouri Memorial Association. (2019). USS Missouri. Retrieved from https://ussmissouri.org