How to Move a Library 4499 Miles. Wait-What?

by | Mar 5, 2021 | Libraries

I heard this story from a friend at my last high school reunion and found it so fascinating (of course—it’s about a library!), that I had to share it with you. I asked my friend, Dr. Steven Olson, to write a summary of how this amazing transfer came about so that everyone can fully appreciate yet another story of the dedication and determination we book-lovers have for establishing libraries anywhere!

(Many thanks to Steve for sharing his story, valuable time, and wonderful writing skills!)                                                    

Here is Steve’s story:

“My father, Fred Olson, is 95 years old and was an infantry rifleman in WWII. He served with the 84th Infantry Division (The Railsplitters) in Belgium and Germany. He arrived in late 1944 at age 18 and saw heavy combat in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Germany. The exploits of his company are documented in the book, The Men of Company K, written by Campbell and Leinbaugh, his company officers. Although my dad does not think very highly of the book, it does serve as insight into what daily life in combat was like in Europe. Interestingly, excerpts from the book, including comments by my dad, are included in Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose, as well.

“After the war, at the insistence of his mother, my dad attended college as a history major and then went on to earn a Master’s degree. He completed work towards a PhD and taught for a short time but eventually ended up working for Vocational Rehabilitation for the state of Iowa. He worked as a counselor, district supervisor, and eventually as an assistant director for the state.

“He never lost his interest in history and over the years amassed a library of approximately 3000 books, with over 2000 of them devoted to WWII. He read them all and developed an encyclopedic knowledge of that conflict. 

“As old age intervened, the question arose as to the fate of his extensive collection. It seemed a library or museum should benefit, as opposed to the books sitting in a private setting. After various inquiries and contacts, the part of the collection related to WWII was donated to the National Museum of Military History in Diekirch, Luxembourg. The entire collection was shipped overseas and a dedication was held in January, 2020. My parents were unable to attend, so they were represented by my wife, my oldest son, and myself. The leaders of the museum were present and graciously sponsored our visit; they expressed sincere gratitude for the donation.  The museum already has a significant library, but this was a substantial addition.

Mr. Olson’s collection now residing at the National Museum of Military History, Diekirch, Luxembourg.                                  

“Hopefully, scholars from Europe and around the world will now utilize my father’s books as yet another resource for the academic study of WWII. Learning about our world wars is certainly an ongoing process that will extend well into the future; we were glad my father was able to be a part of this important learning process.”

Steven P. Olson, MD                                                  



About New Chapters Libraries

At New Chapters, our collective passion is to inspire a love of books among at-risk youth. We believe that strong reading skills are essential for every child and that a good book can be very therapeutic and offer a ‘vacation’ from the hardships of everyday life.

New Chapters is committed to making a wide variety of current and high-interest books readily available by creating and refurbishing libraries in residential facilities catering to at-risk children. We also conduct programs aimed at fostering a love of books and increasing reading skills.

To learn more, contact us at [email protected]. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram!


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