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African-American Resource Room

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African-American Resource RoomOn Saturday, February 24th, the African-American Resource Room at the Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Library was renamed and dedicated in honor of retired Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) administrator William A. Miles in appreciation of his decades of leadership, imagination and commitment to the institution. Among the many other valuable contributions made during his 43-year Library career, in 1965, Mr. Miles instituted the African-American History Collection at the former North Jefferson Branch Library. This collection serves as the foundation for the new center now located at the Merriweather Library, which opened in April of 2006, and is the largest resource room in Western New York for information on African-American history and culture. In 1975, the Afro-American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier began to incorporate microfilms of primary source material on the history of African-Americans in the Western New York area. In addition to the numerous books, microfilm and flat pictures, the collection recently acquired the microfiche Schomburg Clipping File, which contains more than 9,000 records that preserve and document important accomplishments in the African-American experience as well as other special electronic databases for African-American research.

William A. Miles (center), B&ECPL Director Michael C. Mahaney (left), B&ECPL Board Chairman W. Lawrence Buck (right)."The first B&ECPL Director, Joseph Rounds, saw in Bill Miles the capacity to do things no one else could do at a time when libraries needed to shatter the old mold and become more sensitive and more responsive to the demands of diverse communities, said B&ECPL Director Michael C. Mahaney. Miles was the man for that job, and today the B&ECPL is better because of his unique contributions.

William A. Miles (left) and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (right).More than 175 people attended the dedication event, including public officials representing the City of Buffalo, County of Erie and New York State. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown proclaimed February 24th William A. Miles Day in the City. In addition, Erie County Legislature Betty Jean Grant read from a proclamation declaring the 24th William A. Miles Day in Erie County.

During the program, Mr. Miles was also presented with the Joyce Allen Black History Award from Afro-American Historical Association representative Dr. Barbara Nevergold.

 

Bill is what I call a culture keeper, said his successor and long-time colleague at the Library Sharon Jordan Holley. He has always known his culture and has therefore, been extremely successful in preserving it for others.
More than 175 people attended the dedication event.

More than 175 people attended the dedication event.In 1959, Mr. Miles was appointed Junior Librarian with the B&ECPL. From there, he worked in various Buffalo branch libraries. In 1965, Mr. Miles was named Coordinator of the B&ECPLs Inner City Project. He was instrumental in establishing the Lookie Bookie traveling library. In 1973, Mr. Miles was appointed Assistant Deputy Director in the Department of Special Services (later Extension Services), where he was successful in obtaining millions of dollars in state and federal grants to benefit the B&ECPL and guided the delivery of library service to the residents of Buffalo and Erie County through its mobile libraries, urban services, institutional services and branch divisions. Mr. Miles concluded his career in 2002.

Both in my career and while working on community projects, I have always believed in having an idea file, remarked Miles. With this preparation and knowledge, you are ready to embrace challenges and take advantage of all opportunities.

Continuing Support

A fund to provide continuing support for the William A. Miles Center has been established. Donations may be sent to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Development Office, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203-1887. Please make checks payable to B&ECPL. (Note: William A. Miles Center.) The Library has been granted official tax exempt status [section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code] from the United States Internal Revenue Service. Your tax-exempt donation is gratefully appreciated.