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Library History

1891 - The Grove City Library was started as a private club in 1891. Public-spirited citizens pooled their private libraries in Harsh's Drug Store, located on Broadway, just north of Kingston Avenue. Membership was $2.00 a year.

May 1917 - Women's Civic Club gave $63.00 to establish a public reading room. It was free to the public and staffed by volunteers. The library was located in the Director's Room, First National Bank, at the southeast corner of Broadway and Columbus Streets. The bank donated the space and utilities.

January 1923 - By this date the library had moved to a small building at the southeast corner of Broadway and Civic Place. The $15-a-month rent included lights, heat, and daily janitor service.

November 1923 - The library was reorganized as a township school district library eligible for tax revenue.

January 1924 - Library trustees hired Miss Irene Harper as the first librarian with a $30 monthly salary. The civic club gave the new Jackson Township Library the use of all the former library's books and equipment.

1931 - The library began to receive funding through the Ohio Intangibles Tax.

January 1935 - After Miss Harper's death, H. Kathleen White was named librarian. White was a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Journalism.

1936 - The Jackson Township Library was relocated to the second floor of the Rolla White building at 3708 Broadway.

1940 - Library trustees set aside $500 as a building fund, the first step toward a board-owned building.

1944 - Library trustees change the library name to Grove City Public Library.

1946 - The building fund contained over $9,000, so trustees formed a building committee to recommend a location for a new library building.

1947 - Library trustees purchase Lot #5, otherwise known as 35 Park Street, as the permanent home of the library system headquarters. The house that stood there was rented, with profits added to the building fund.

1949 - Library building bond issue fails.

July 1951 - The library was deeply saddened by the death of Kathleen White after 16 years of service.

September 1951 - Audrey C. Earl is hired as the new librarian. A graduate of the Western Reserve School of Library Sciences, she was the first professionally trained librarian at the Grove City Public Library.

March 10, 1954 - The new library building opened at 35 Park Street a cost of $81,119. The library held 15,000 books with space to add 10,000 more. Audio-visual service was added at this time.

1956 - South-Western City Schools is formed as Jackson, Pleasant, Prairie, and Franklin Townships, 129 square miles with a population of approximately 56,000. Grove City Public Library is a school district library, so it expands to the same boundaries.

1961 - First formal contract for Grove City Public Library to provide services in South-Western City School buildings. The school district provided space, furnishings, and utilities while the library provided materials and staff.

1962 - Grove City building is expanded south to Civic Place.

1965 - Kathryn Hannon succeeded Audrey Earl as librarian.

April 1, 1968 - Donald V. Schuler was hired as the library's first Director. He held a Master's Degree in Library Science from Case Western Reserve University and a law degree from Marshall Law School.

1969 - Under Mr. Schuler's direction, the library board filed an appeal before the State Board of Tax Appeals resulting in a dramatic increase in state funding for the Grove City Public Library.

1970 - The school libraries are turned back over to the school board.

November 8, 1970 - The Harrisburg Branch opens at 1036 High St. in the village of Harrisburg.

September 10, 1972 - The Prairie Branch opens in Lincoln Village Plaza, 4740 W. Broad St., to serve Prairie Township.

1974 - The Grove City library building is expanded at a cost of $350,000.

January 6, 1974 - The Franklin Branch opens at 973 Harrisburg Pike in Franklin Township.

1975 - After Mr. Schuler's death, William Cramer was appointed director.

1977 - Frederick E. Allison is appointed director. Allison held a Master of Library Science degree from State University College at Geneseo, New York.

1978 - Franklin Branch phased out due to lack of use.

1978 - Harrisburg and Prairie branches expanded and remodeled.

1984 - Library moved to automate many library operations. Within 18 months, card catalogs were replaced with a computerized online catalog and circulation and collections functions were automated.

October 1986 - Operating funds are inadequate for library expansion, so a 2.2 mill operating levy is placed on the ballot. It failed.

1988 - After negotiations between the seven Franklin County Library systems, the Franklin County Budget Commission adopts a new funding formula designed to make funding distribution more

April 1988 - Frances Black is appointed library director. Black holds a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of Alabama.

November 1988 - Library system renamed Southwest Public Libraries. The change was designed to reflect the library's large service area, approaching 100,000 people over 127 square miles.

1989 - 2.9 mill tax levies placed on the ballot in May and November

1989 - Library trustees decide to concentrate service in the district's two large population centers--Grove City and Prairie Township.

December 5, 1989 - Bookmobile service is established with a grant from the federal government.

1990 -  Harrisburg Library is phased out. Community demand leads the library board to allow residents to operate the library with some SPL financial support.

October 19, 1991 - The expanded and remodeled Prairie Library reopens as the Westland Area Library. The 21,000-square-foot building provides the same services and collections as the Grove City Library.

May 1993 -  SPL enters Discovery Place Libraries consortium with the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Worthington Public Library, and Franklin University Library. By year's end the library's circulation and online catalog functions are fully converted.

December 13, 1993 - SPL establishes the library's first connection to the Internet via OHIONET.

January 1, 1994 - Library and Local Government Support Fund, which provides state funding to public libraries, reduced from 6.3% of the state income tax to 5.7%.

June 1994 - The first summer reading program in cooperation with the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Worthington Public Library is held.

November 8, 1994 - Seven-tenths mill property tax levy fails at the polls.

January 24, 1995 - Library trustees vote to donate the Harrisburg Library building to the village of Harrisburg.

July 1996 - DiscNet, a collection of CD-ROM reference products operated by the Columbus Metropolitan Library, becomes available at SPL locations.

July 1996 - Bookmobile service was discontinued; the bookmobile was eventually donated to South-Western City Schools.

November 7, 1996 - A one mill property tax levy fails at the polls.

December 1996 - One Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) terminal, providing Internet access and commercial databases, is made available at each SPL location.

April 1999 - Library and South-Western City Schools administrators meet for the first time to discuss a possible joint library venture.

December 1999 - SPL receives a $22,150 grant from the Ohio Reads program to assist English as a Second Language students. This is the beginning of library programming targeted toward diversity in the district.

October 14, 2001 - Westland Area Library celebrates the 10th anniversary of its' building.

August 26, 2002 - SPL begins providing services at the Central Crossing Library. Located in Central Crossing High School on Big Run Rd., this library is a joint venture between SPL and South-Western City Schools.

September 29, 2002 - Director Frances Black retires. Mark Shaw is named director; Shaw has an MBA from the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Kent State University.

February 2003 - Due to continued reductions in state funding, Southwest Public Libraries is forced to eliminate Sunday hours. Some weekend-only staff are laid off for the first time in library history. Salaries, benefits, and public service are also frozen or reduced.

May 2005 – Self-Checkout is implemented.  Over 50% of circulation is handled by self-checkout 

January 1, 2008 - The Ohio General Assembly adoptes a new funding formula for public libraries.  The new formula moves away from reliance on personal income tax and provides libraries with 2.22% of all General Revenue Fund Taxes. 

October 2008 – The near-collapse of U.S. financial markets triggers the most severe recession since the 1930s.  Library funding is severely impacted. 

June 2009 – In response to the severe recession, the Ohio General Assembly reduces the Public Library Fund from 2.22% of all General Revenue Fund taxes to 1.97%.  In response, SPL lays off 15 staff members, reduces hours by one-third, and reduces purchases of books by 75%, and closes the Central Crossing Library.  Since 2001, SPL's funding from the State of Ohio has decreased 33%. In addition, all staff members take a 10% pay cut through an unpaid furlough. 

June 2010 – SPL Board votes to place a 1 mill, 10 year levy on the November 2 ballot in order to replace funding lost since 2001.  Former library trustee and community leader Jeff Davis is appointed chairman of the levy campaign.

November 2010 – Voters approve a 1 mill levy with a duration of 10 years. Funding from this levy is approximately $2.5 million annually and now makes up 45% of SPL's funding.

February 2011 – As a result of the passage of the 1 mill levy in November, 2010, seventeen hours are added back to the operating schedule, purchasing of new library materials is resumed, and programs for children are expanded.

May 2012 - SPL completes a comprehensive community survey to assist with long-range strategic planning. District residents express strong support for the return of Sunday hours and purchases of more library materials. Residents also reject the idea of a smaller branch located east of I-71 in Grove City; preferring an expanded Grove City Library in Grove City’s Town Center.

June 2012 – SPL adopts new logo designed by Communications Manager Amy Shaw and launches a rebranding campaign to reinforce its primary mission of lifelong learning and to improve brand identity and recognition within the library district. SPL’s old logo had been in place since 1988.

July 2012 – Negotiations begin between SPL and the City of Grove City to build a new, expanded Grove City Library somewhere in Grove City’s Town Center.

September 2012 – In response to overwhelming customer support, SPL reinstitutes Sunday hours for the first time since 2003.

May 2013 – SPL and the City of Grove City formally agree to a partnership to build a new Grove City Library at the corner of Broadway and Grant Avenue in Grove City’s Town Center. The City of Grove City agrees to contribute $2 million and to pay SPL $2.5 million for the existing library on Park Street with SPL contributing an additional $ 2 million to the project. The remaining construction costs are to be paid for with a 30 year bond issue with SPL and the City of Grove City splitting the payments on the bonds. At the end of the 30 year bond issue, the Grove City Library will be owned outright by SPL.

May 2013 – Southwest Public Libraries along with Columbus Metropolitan Library and Worthington Libraries made the strategic decision to join the Central Library Consortium (CLC). This partnership resulted in 11 library systems serving 1.4 million residents across six counties. At this time, SPL transitioned from Discovery Place to Polaris as its new ILS (integrated library system).

October 16, 2016 – The new Grove City Library opened to the public at 3959 Broadway in the Grove City Town Center. The 48,000 square-foot building has twice the amount of public space as the Park Street location, large meeting rooms, quiet space, more public computers, more parking spaces, and a dedicated teen room. The Youth Services area includes Harper's Grove, an early literacy center with games, toys, and other features that promote the skills children will need as they learn to read. Harper's Grove is the result of a generous donation from Laura Harper in honor of her late husband John and his aunt Irene, the first SPL Librarian.

February 2017 – For the first time, SPL offers online booking of meeting rooms and study space through a feature of Evanced Solutions.


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Southwest Public Libraries

3959 Broadway
Grove City, OH 43123
(614) 875-6716