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State Library of Ohio History

The State Library was one of the first state agencies created, established in 1817, to serve the information and research needs of state government.  As Ohio grew, so did the responsibilities of the agency, including the development of library services throughout Ohio.  Below is a timeline of notable events in the State Library's history.

State Librarians of Ohio - links to list of State Librarians

1817

Ohio Governor Thomas Worthington 1814-1818

The Ohio State Library, later renamed State Library of Ohio, is established by Governor Thomas Worthington with a collection of 509 books. Located in the original State Office Building, the library serves as a depository for state records, maps, and laws and is open to state officials and members of the legislature.

Small image of first page of State Library's first catalog Click to view larger image of original catalog

John L. Harper was appointed as the first State Librarian and purchases first collection.

1818
General Assembly established regulations for the Library to operate under the Governor.
 
1823
Zachariah Mills was appointed first full-time State Librarian.
State Library’s first catalogue was published.
 
1824 
Legislature recognized the Library as a state institution and established an annual $200 salary for a three-year appointment as Librarian.
 
1844 
Governor, Secretary of State & the Librarian composed a Board of Commissioners created by the legislature.

1845

The library moves to the State Capitol.

The legislature passes a law establishing a library board of commissioners, consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State, and the State Librarian.

1853
Reorganization shortened the librarian’s term & opened the facility to the public.
 
1860
Law Library collection was separated & became the Supreme Court of Ohio Law Library

1896

The legislature enacts the Library Law of 1896 requiring the Senate to appoint the Board of Commissioners to a six–year term without compensation.

With the Governor's approval, the Board appoints the State Librarian.

The State Library creates a traveling library program. By 1927, the traveling library circulation has grown to 69,850 books.

Photo of Charles B. Galbreath Click to view larger image

Charles B. Galbreath began the first of three terms as State Librarian & ushered the Library into the 20th century.

Traveling Library program began.

1897
Rutherford B. Hayes edited the first list of State publications.
 
  Click to view larger image

1908

Library development program began - the position of Library Organizer is created to assist with statewide library development.

1910
Legislative Reference Department was established.
 
1917
Summer Library School began with State Librarian Charles B. Galbreath serving as secretary.
 
1921
Governmental Reorganization Act made the Library a division of the Department of Education.
 
Board of Commissioners increased from three to five members.
 
Herbert S. Hirshberg was the first professional librarian appointed to head the agency.
        

1927

Governor Donahey vetoes library appropriations, and on June 20, 1927, the library closes due to lack of funding. In August, the library reopens with a staff of volunteers led by the previous State Librarian, Charles B. Galbreath. Mr. Galbreath and other volunteers work for 11 months before being compensated for their services.

1928

The library officially reopens.

1933–34

Image of library when it was located in the Ohio Departments building in Columbus Click to view larger image

The State Library moves into the newly completed Ohio Departments Building, located at 65 South Front Street in downtown Columbus.

State Aid to Public Libraries Law added responsibility for developing county-wide libraries

1935

The State Library begins to distribute funds to local libraries and to establish library service in rural areas of the state. $50,000 is appropriated in 1935; by 1952 that amount has doubled to $100,000.00.

1937
Work began on the first union catalog of large public libraries in the country.

1947

Library law is codified, setting the course for the library's current mission. The Library Organizer position has evolved into the Library Consultants program.

1953

Seventy of Ohio's 88 counties have an extension or branch library. The traveling library has evolved into the bookmobile service. In 1953, 53 bookmobiles are operating in 37 counties.

1955
State Library Board became an independent agency authorized by ORC 3375.01
 
1956
Federal Library Services Act supplied funds for rural library service centers and bookmobile programs.
 
1957
House Bill 27 granted the authority to distribute Ohio documents to depository libraries.

1959

The Catalog Center opens to provide cataloging and processing services to public, school, academic, special, and institutional libraries.

1960

Subsidy for National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped began

1961
Shirley Sippola was appointed first director of the Southeastern Ohio Library Center (SEO) Regional Service Center in Caldwell.

1962

With the enactment of U.S. Public Law 87–579, the State Library becomes the regional federal government documents depository for Ohio.

Bookmobile service began in eight counties in Southeast Ohio, with 6557 miles logged the 1st year.

1963
Little Hoover Commission recommended the Library be closed.
 
1965
Federal Library Services & Construction Act funds allowed renewed library development efforts.

1967

According to the Union Bibliography of Ohio Printed State Documents 1803-1970 : “The name of the library was officially established as The State Library of Ohio in 1967”.

Statewide library services master plan was developed.
 
Report recommended legislative action to change the Board composition, which had not altered since it was established in 1955.
 
1969
Governor Rhodes signed the Ohio Library Development Plan into law.
 
F. Ward Murrey became the 5th director of SEO, after starting out as a part-time employee there in 1961
Talking book machines began using cassette tapes.
 
1973
Traveling Library program ended.
 
Microfilm Automated Catalog operations began.

1975

The State Library opens the Tower Library Center in the Rhodes Tower Office Building.

 
1979
Senate Bill 205 granted the authority to distribute legislative publications.
 
1980
After repeated flooding, SEO moved from Olive Shopping Lane to a space on Marietta Road, which the State Library purchased 11 years later.

1981

The State Library and The Ohio State University Libraries share a computerized catalog.

1981
Distribution of talking book machines was reassigned to the Library.
 
1986
Four SEO libraries formed a consortium for shared circulation.
 
1988
SEO became a Talking Book lending agency.

1989

Major renovation & expansion to five floors of the Ohio Departments Building.

Riffe Research Center opens, offering access through an online catalog to over four million titles in the State Library and The Ohio State University libraries.

1990
Library Service for the Blind administrative costs became fully funded by the Library

1994

The State Library of Ohio becomes a founding member of OhioLINK.

1996
Michael S. Lucas became State Librarian & accompanied the Library into the 21st century.
 
Federal Library Services & Technology Act was passed.

1997

OPLIN brings Internet connectivity to Ohio's public libraries.

 
1998
SEO expanded its services to all Ohio public libraries
 
Mobile computer training lab went into service
 
Flooding at SEO caused the destruction of over 7700 books

2000

The State Library ceases operation in the Ohio Departments Building.

2001

The State Library of Ohio reopens for business in the Jeffrey Mining Corporate Center.

2002
Expanded space at SEO was dedicated
 
SEO bookmobile service ended
 
2004
Jo Budler became State Librarian

2005

Southeastern Ohio Library Center changed its name to SEO Library Center (Serving All Ohioans)

State Library Board Testimony before The Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee
April 21, 2005

State Library Board Testimony before The Subcommittee on Higher Education Of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee
February 22, 2005

2006
SEO Annex was acquired as a gift of the SOLO Regional Library System
 
2007
Christine Tucker retired and Dianna Clark became the 7th director of SEO.
 
Genealogy collection was transferred to the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
 
2008
Columbus branch of the Kent State University School of Library & Information Science relocated to remodeled space in the State Library, the first such partnership since 1889.
 
2009
State Library set to begin distributing talking book machines with digital technology.
 
2010
Beverly Cain became State Librarian.