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CTY library20p main exterior The Main Library at Michigan and Adams streets was constructed for $2 million and dedicated on Sept. 4, 1940. A major renovation project was completed in 2001.
The Main Library at Michigan and Adams streets was constructed for $2 million and dedicated on Sept. 4, 1940. A major renovation project was completed in 2001.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Published: Sunday, 9/1/2013

SPECIAL SECTION: ONE FOR THE BOOKS

Toledo-Lucas County Public Library observes its 175th anniversary

BLADE STAFF

"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." -- Henry Ward Beecher, 19th century abolitionist, social reformer, and clergyman.

It is difficult to imagine a more exalted institution in an enlightened democracy than a public library.

In fact, everything you need to know about the American system's roots is this: The first lending library was established by none other than Benjamin Franklin in 1731.

In 1890 Toledo built its first library building at Madison and Ontario streets. In 1890 Toledo built its first library building at Madison and Ontario streets.
COURTESY OF THE TOLEDO-LUCAS COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY Enlarge

They are repositories of information and fountains of entertainment, places to get lost in thought and discover new ideas. They are great equalizers, where low income men, women, and children can navigate the Internet for free and where folks living in economic deprivation have the same access to big thoughts as an Ivy League graduate.

And as Mr. Beecher said: They are necessary.

The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library celebrates its 175th birthday this year in a good place. Its lending collection is a muscular 2.4 million books, compact discs, DVDs, and more. There are 325,022 library card holders in the county and last year 6.9 million items were borrowed. 

In an era when supposedly people don't read anymore, the library belies the notion that somehow our culture is less intelligent and dumbed down by technology.

To test this theory, visit a library branch virtually any time of the day or on the weekend. You will find a bustling place frequented by people of all ages and staffed by knowledgeable folks who never make you feel embarrassed be cause you can't get your card to swipe through the automated check-out device properly. 

This Blade special section on the library's big anniversary takes you inside the rows and rows of books, explores The Blade Rare Book Room, and shows you how the building on Michigan Avenue grew to 271,000 square feet. It features a profile on longtime director Clyde Scoles and includes renowned historian and author David McCullough's comments on libraries.

 

■ Libraries began branching out in the early 1900s

■ Toledo-Lucas County Public Library timeline

■ Delicate history endures in The Blade Rare Book Room

■ 2001 overhaul provided major boost for Main Library

■ Library system thriving under longtime director Clyde Scoles

■ A brief history of Toledo-Lucas County Public Library leaders

■ Various sources offer quirky view of history

■ Authors! Authors! provides cultural boost to era

■ Authors! Authors! line up set for the 2013-14 season

■ David McCullough -- author, historian, advocate for libraries -- to speak at gala

■ Big events set for library's 175th anniversary

■ From user fees to fines and taxes, financial support model evolves

■ Pair of branches carry on time capsule tradition

■ Library staffers field countless questions over the years



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