Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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Library leaders: A brief history

  • Carl-Vitz-1

    Carl Vitz

  • Ardath-Danford-1

    Ardath Danford


The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library has had nine directors since 1904 when the position was established. The current director, Clyde Scoles, has served the longest among the eight men and one woman.

1904-13: Willis Fuller Sewall

1914-22: Herbert Hirshberg

1922-37: Carl Vitz

1937-45: Russell Schunk

1945-55: Herbert Sewell

1955-70: Robert Franklin

1970-77: Lewis Naylor

1977-85: Ardath Danford

1985-present: Clyde Scoles

Here are highlights of some of the directors’ terms.


Carl Vitz


Carl Vitz won an award for distinguished service in the library profession in 1952 at the 71st annual conference of the American Library Association. That year, while working as the director of the Cincinnati Public Library, he was offered a pay raise three times but refused every time. He was eventually forced to take it anyway. While directing the Toledo Public Library, he increased the number of books in the system from 153,000 to 366,000, opened six new branch libraries, and built up a noteworthy collection of books on glass.

Russell Schunk was originally from Red Wing, Minn., and served as a captain in the Army Reserve in World War I. He moved to Toledo to serve as the head of the Toledo Public Library's technology department in 1930. While library director, he oversaw the functional planning of the renovations to the Main Library building in 1940. He served as vice president of the Ohio Library Association and secretary and president of the Toledo Field Naturalists Association.

Herbert Sewell served as the chief librarian's assistant for the fifth service command in Columbus during World War II. After the war, he guided the Toledo Public Library through an era plagued by concerns over the spread of communism and the atomic bomb. In a February, 1950, interview with The Blade, Mr. Sewell said the library system did not censor books. "In controversial matters, we feel that it is our duty to present all phases of the question, and that means in matters of politics or economics or religion, or whatever, that we present the most conservative and the most liberal point of view because we believe that repression of unpopular opinions or minority points of view is an unwise and really an unworkable scheme," he said.

Robert Franklin wrote and illustrated a biweekly library newsletter, "The Tee-Pee" (for Toledo Public) during his time as director and had a program on WSPD Radio for 20 years in which he interviewed writers. The library system's collection exceeded 1 million volumes during his tenure as director, and he opened three new branches. His wife hooked circular rugs as a hobby and hung a rug depicting a zodiac in the Main Library courtyard. Mr. Franklin was the chairman of the Toledo World Federation.

Lewis Naylor served as the first director of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, which was created out of the merger of the Toledo, Lucas County, and Sylvania libraries in 1970. He received the Ohio Library Association Librarian of the Year award in 1974. Mr. Naylor served as president of the Ohio Library Association in 1962-63 and received his master's in library science from Western Reserve University.


Ardath Danford


Under Ardath Danford’s leadership, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system became the fourth-largest system in Ohio, lending 4 million volumes per year. The Ohio Library Council named her Librarian of the Year in 1985 and inducted her into the statewide librarians’ hall of fame in 1993. She was recognized for aptly preparing Toledo’s library system for the computer age, allowing it to function as a test site for a computerized circulation and book ordering system that became the standard in Ohio libraries by the 1990s.

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