The U.S. Army provided a system of Libraries in more than 100 European Military Communities as a branch of the Recreation Services. Until 1976, the Augsburg District Library was part of the Bavarian Crossroads Service Club, later Recreation Center, in Bldg 33, Reese Barracks - now the German cultural center ’abraxas’. Smaller branches were at Flak and Sheridan Kaserne. Together with the District Libraries in Leipheim, Dillingen and Ulm, the USAREUR Army Library even staged an AD Library Publicity Contest in the early 1950s. Judged were the efforts of the Libraries in regard to external publicity and interest. The Army Library should not be mixed up with the American Library in the downtown ´Amerikahaus’ (1946-1953), as the latter was exclusively intended for the German public.
In 1976, a utilization change in Bldg 116, Sheridan Kaserne, made the consolidation of the separate Libraries to one large 14,500 square feet Library possible. Established in the attic of this former motor pool, it was considered to be Europe’s second largest U.S. Library. In cooperation with the other USAREUR Libraries, over three million volumes were available at request.
In the mid 80s, the Library provided more than 50,000 volumes, and about 300 American newspapers and magazines as well as over 6,000 records, CDs, plus more than 500 videocassettes and films. There was also a special interest collection of more than 500 titles in Judaica. Even ten foreign language courses were offered. With a monthly budget of $ 14,000, three librarians and six additional specialists provided the Sheridan Library’s service.
The Library was designed to meet the needs of readers from the pre-school child to the adult scholar. It featured an Audio-Visual Room for viewing videocassettes and a Library Program Center for music, slide and film showings. There was always a big request for biographies of celebrities as well as European travel books. Customers were also interested in literature about Augsburg’s and Bavaria’s history (in English). The library was Off Limits for other than ID-card Holders. The peak of utilization was in the 1980s with about 8,000 visitors and about 10,000 circulated items per month.
Due to humanitarian requirements, an elevator-tower annex for the handicapped as well as for mothers with baby carriages had to be constructed near the eastern end of Bldg 116 as late as in 1990.
A real historical photo, shot in the autumn of 1945, shows the maybe oldest Augsburg Army Library as part of the 3rd Military Government Regimental Headquarters, located in Bldg 207, Flak Kaserne. (Photo: 3rd MGR HQ).