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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Mr. David W. Griffith, Director, 1950-1965

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mr. David W. Griffith was the Director of our library system from 1950 until 1965 when we departed to become the Director of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.


It was an exciting time for public libraries, as new formats of information was being introduced into libraries to supplement the standard book collections.


Microfilm was introduced into our library collections in 1950 with the Herald-Star newspaper being made available in that format.


16 mm films were added to the library as part of a rotating collection owned and managed by a circuit of 20 public libraries.


Long-playing records were added to the library collections in 1951.


Shortly after Mr. Griffith became Director, the library system began planning for its 50th anniversary, which took place in 1952.


A Bookmobile garage was added to the Main Library in 1950, bringing the vehicle to the building for better servicing of the program which had started a decade before.


Mr. Griffith worked with the branch libraries which had been established around the county between 1936-1942 to improve and expand services equally to all of the residents of the county.


Perhaps his biggest headache on-the-job was dealing with the deteriorated roof on the Main Library building.


The 50 year-old red clay tile roof had been leaking for years, damaged by brick and stonework falling from the tower and breaking the clay tiles.


Tar paper had been placed on the roof as a temporary patch, but interior walls were stained with water spots mixed with the tar patch.


In 1956, the library used literally every last penny in the budget and savings to replace the red clay tiles with a gray slate roof, and removed the deteriorated top of the tower.


In the meantime, Mr. Griffith continued to offer programming, and was a pioneer in the library field in using television as a programming method.


A two-story expansion of the Main Library was completed in 1963, providing both public and office space in the building.


Only recently did we learn of Mr. Griffith’s 2010 death, as a resident of the Bentonville, Arkansas area.


He was a native of Johnstown, Pa., and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and the former Carnegie Institute School of Library Science.


I first met Mr. Griffith in 1978 at a library conference, where he had announced his retirement from the Youngstown Library system, and revealed his plans to relocate to Florida and enter the real estate field.


He lived there for nearly 30 years, and he called a couple of times to chat about his days here in Jefferson County.


He and his family had resided in Brilliant while employed by the library system, and he wanted to know all about the branch libraries, and whether the Main Library roof had ever leaked.


We compared notes during my tenure as President of the Ohio Library Association, a position that he held in 1961-62.


I find it interesting to read information about the people who have held my position, and their many accomplishments.


On one of our phone conversations, Mr. Griffith asked what “desk” I was using?  I told him that it is brown and tan, with a white top that curves out over the corners.


“Yes, bought that in ’63 when we added onto the building.  Hope you like it!”


Yes, Mr. Griffith, I love your desk, and am proud to continue your work with the library!