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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.

2016

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 01, 2017

 

As the year ended, our library system completed its 116th year of operations serving the citizens of Jefferson County, Ohio.

 

The charter and first meeting of the Library Board took place Oct. 1, 1899 for the purpose of receiving the $ 50,000 check from Andrew Carnegie to construct the first permanent public library building for the area.

 

That building opened March 12, 1902 and is our Main Library building at 4th & Slack Streets in Steubenville.

 

The library system was re-chartered Jan. 1, 1936 by the State Library of Ohio to expand its service area from the City of Steubenville to the entire county. 

 

A State Commission on Libraries made further changes in 1947 by ending the establishment of any new library districts except by legislative action.

 

In 2012-13 by legislative action, the State Library of Ohio reviewed the service boundaries of all 251 Public Library Districts in Ohio and confirmed that the boundaries of Jefferson County are indeed the legal borders of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.

 

Despite all of that legal talk, Ohio citizens enjoy one of the most dynamic public library services of any state in America.

 

Our own library system is part of the SEO Library Network with 92 library districts in Ohio, linked together with 8 million items that can be borrowed by any account holder and picked up at their local library.

 

Other library materials can be borrowed through the OCLC network in the same way.

 

eBooks are available from the Ohio Digital Library, and our own library system is part of a variety of online services from eMagazines to Hoopla for eBooks and movies and TV movies.

 

The Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) provides trunk lines to all 251 library districts to link us into the State Communications System, as well as countless online databases with literally millions upon millions of information sources.

 

And yes, we have books on our shelves.

 

This past year of 2016 demonstrated again that public libraries are changing, yet remaining focused on the ages-old purpose of providing information to our citizens.

 

People search the online library catalog and library website before physically coming to our libraries to pick up books, DVDs, Books on CD, (among other things).  But, they also use the human beings who still staff libraries today.

 

Photocopies, faxes, printouts from computers, and computer use in general, not to forget Public Notary service all exist at your public library.

 

While our library system dates back to 1899, the Steubenville Library Company is celebrating its Bicentennial as it started in 1815-16 on Saturdays in Michael Johnston’s store on 3rd Street.

 

Edwin M. Stanton shared his “Circulating Library” with the public around 1830 for 10 cents a book.

 

The City Library Association of Steubenville organized in 1848 and operated off and on through the 19th Century, supplemented by the school library open to the public.

 

Some of those libraries became the roots for the new Public Library opened with Carnegie funds in 1902.

 

Would Eli T. Tappan, the designated librarian of the City Library Association recognize and understand the library of today?

 

Would Ellen Summers Wilson, the first librarian of our system from 1902-04, know what is happening in her library a century later?