The first library in the Northwest Territory was a small library Israel Putnam started at Belpre in 1795. In the early days patrons paid a fee to use the library. Many libraries came and went with the needs, and economy, of the area. Eventually taxes were used to fund more permanent libraries and in 1901 The Brumback Public Library in Van Wert, Ohio, was dedicated as the first county library system in the nation.
Dayton’s first library service was founded, in 1805, not long after the city. This library was not to last and all the books were sold in 1820. in 1847 a new library was founded. It was housed in “two rooms of the second floor of the Steele Building on Main Street“. In the 1880’s a permanent building was needed. A plot of land deeded by Daniel Cooper as a park to the citizens of Dayton was used. In the 1960’s, almost 100 years later, a new building was built. During that time many of the local branches had been built.
Fast forward to the present. Few new branches had been built and many of the older branches were showing age and straining to keep up with the advances in technology and population growth. The main branch was crowded and falling apart. It still had bomb shelters from its cold war days. With the advent of digital technologies, the internet, and home video, libraries around the world had changed. More than just an upgrade to the buildings was needed.
Around 2008 The Dayton Metro Library decided to upgrade everything, not just renovate buildings with more abilities. This plan, called Facilities For Results, was to be a renewal of the entire system. The old libraries were small and as more technology and materials were added they became cramped. All buildings were to be rebuilt or expanded, some relocated to nearby spaces with more room. Some where closed and the branches realigned.
With the use of paper reference materials, books and encyclopedias, giving way to the ease of access and speed of updates provided by the internet, libraries have less need for shelve space and more need for open / multi use areas. The new branches have more space for computers, digital technologies, reading spaces, and dedicated youth areas. Instead of being just collections of books, they are dedicated to meet all informational needs of their communities.
No longer just dedicated to giving they are now places for makers to make, groups to meet, and the community to be a community. Each branch sits in and serves a different community and the Library has taken this to heart. What might work in one place, might not bee needed in another. Each branch is designed for the area it serves. Locations with more youth have larger children and teens sections. Some have more need for computer space, some for quiet reading areas.
Because of the work the Library took to plan not just for each branch but for the system as a whole, the Dayton metro Libraries new branches are a welcoming, innovative, and unique space ready to change with and meet the needs of its patrons for years to come.