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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.

Another object found

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, July 8, 2018


Another historical artifact has been found in the Main Library Project; although it isn’t exactly ancient history nor is it unique.


Found next to the foundation of the Carnegie building was a glass milk bottle from the former Modern Dairy Co. of Steubenville, no chips or cracks in the bottle.


The area where it was found was excavated in 1963 when the former Annex was constructed and historical research places the bottle in that approximate time period.


It is an individual bottle about 6 inches tall, and the contents were likely consumed by a worker in that time period.


The bottle joins my little collection of things that have been found in the construction that will be displayed in the new library complex.


Much of the yard area on the construction site was excavated and filled in 1902 when the Carnegie building was constructed, and again in 1948 and 1963 when the garage/annex were added to the complex.


Another exciting discovery was the original marble floor that exists under floor tile added in 1952 during an earlier renovation.


It may have been covered due to deterioration, or perhaps to change the looks of the space to a mid-century modern design; but it will be restored for all to enjoy --- imperfections and all.


The lobby floor is interesting as the front portion is marble, and the rear portion is oak wood flooring joined by an odd angle.


The reason is that an octagonal public service desk occupied the spot from 1902 to 1952, and the designers wanted the librarian’s of-the-day to stand on wood, not marble.


So, the exposed marble and wood with its strange angles will tell the story of days-gone-by and I hope you will enjoy it.


Today’s planners and designers have read previous reports done on the Main Library as the new annex and renovation was planned.


A lengthy 1936 study done by the State Library of Ohio criticized the location of the Main Library as being “too far removed from the downtown.”


It is 4 blocks from the center of the downtown area, but other libraries closer to the courthouse or city hall found parking to be a greater issue by the 1950s and 1960s.


A 1980 report noted that like most river cities, Steubenville’s development happened in only one direction with the downtown remaining along the river causing the library to be “on the extreme edge of metropolitan development.”


That problem was addressed with a second library like the cities of Newark and Chillicothe, with our Schiappa Branch added in 1987.


Today, library service emerges not only from a physical building, but also from online services available by using your library card.


I am glad that earlier plans to address the issues of the Main Library never happened, particularly the 1965 plan to place an oval annex in the front yard, and whitewash the Carnegie building so it would disappear in the background.


Our plan in 2018 is to make the Main Library building accessible for the first time, and rearrange the space to be effective for library services for the whole system.


At the same time, we have tried to be “architecturally sensitive” to the Victorian-Romanesque design of the Carnegie building so it remains the focus of the new library complex.