Ardath A. Danford; 1930-2013: Woman led local libraries 25 years


Ardath A. Danford, a force in northwest Ohio libraries for a quarter-century, leading the Way Public Library in Perrysburg and then the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, died Friday in the Helen Purcell Home, a nursing facility, in Zanesville, Ohio. She was 83.

She had lung cancer, said Babette Wofter, a protegee who is director of the Licking County Library.

She and her friend, Miriam Bixler, former director of the Toledo Community Foundation, moved from Perrysburg in 1996 to a house they planned and built in Zanesville, where Miss Danford grew up. Miss Bixler died in 2006.

Miss Danford retired in 1985 from the Toledo-Lucas County system. She became director in 1977, succeeding Lewis Naylor.

“She was a very effective administrator,” said Clyde Scoles, Toledo-Lucas County Library director since 1985, who was assistant director during Miss Danford’s tenure.

“There was never any doubt where she stood on issues. You would never hear pious platitudes. She was a no-nonsense-approach person,” he said. “She was very logical in her thinking and would always be asking the question, ‘What is the purpose?’ And you’d better have a good justification for what you were trying to do.”

The consolidated library system was relatively new, and an early challenge — and success — as director was winning voter approval of a levy to provide secure funding. That funding allowed added hours of services and improvements to older buildings.

She was at the forefront of technology, and by her retirement, the Toledo-Lucas County system could keep track of all its books and was connected to the database of every major library.

“She was a woman I admired greatly,” said Jeannine Wilbarger, director of the Rossford Public Library and a colleague in the Toledo-Lucas County system. “Something I appreciated the most was she was a definite woman. When she made her mind up, she made her mind up and stuck with it, and 99 percent of the time, she was right on.”

Miss Danford believed librarians and administrators ought to be involved in the community, Mr. Scoles said, and her activities included the Zonta Club of Toledo and the board of Mercy St. Charles Hospital.

She was former president of the Ohio Library Council and in 1993 was named to its librarians’ hall of fame.

She began her career in 1952 with the Lima, Ohio, Public Library, as a bookmobile librarian and then as head of technical processing, with a year off between those jobs for a stint as a librarian at the University of Maryland psychiatric institute.

She was hired in 1960 to head the Way Public Library in Perrysburg, where she remained until 1970. She was asked to write a pamphlet-length history for the Perrysburg sesquicentennial and instead produced a volume called, The Perrysburg Story 1816-1966. An update, Perrysburg Revisited, was published in the early 1990s by the then-newly formed Way Public Foundation. She was a charter board member.

In the late 1980s and early ’90s, she oversaw a building and computer project at the John McIntire Library in Zanesville, even serving until 1991 as director.

Born Feb. 11, 1930, in Lima to Grace and Howard Danford, she grew up in Zanesville and was a 1947 graduate of Lash High School. By then her father was working at Florida State University, and she became a student there. She received a bachelor’s degree in 1951 and a master’s in 1952.

Miss Danford was historian of Central Trinity United Methodist Church in Zanesville.

Surviving is her brother, Dr. Harold Gene Danford.

There will be no visitation or services. A memorial service in Zanesville will be scheduled. “It will probably be in the spring, and probably when the trillium is blooming. That was her favorite,” Mrs. Wofter said.

Arrangements are by the Bryan & Snyder Funeral Home, Zanesville. Tributes are suggested to the Helen Purcell Home; Genesis Health Foundation, or Central Trinity United Methodist Church, all of Zanesville. 

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.