My Town Monday: One of Dayton’s Happenin’ Places

Note from Jennette: I am deep in the weeds of NaNoWriMo, so I’m offering up a rerun. I have a lot of followers now who weren’t following me when this was originally published, so I’m hoping a lot of new readers will find this. It’s also timely – the facilities upgrade initiative mentioned in the blog post is on the Library Levy on the ballot in tomorrow’s general election. So if you live in the area and haven’t already voted, please go – and consider voting YES for the library! Not sure why? Read on!

The Dayton area has always been fortunate to have a fantastic library. For two centuries, the library has been a vital part of our community.

The very first officially-recognized public library in Ohio, Dayton’s first library was started in 1805, in the home of Benjamin Van Cleve. Back then, it was a pay service. The library moved several times and was even closed and all its books sold, on at least two occasion.

Photo of The old Dayton libraryThe precursor to today’s Dayton Metro Library was built on the current library’s property in 1888. This building was also home to a museum, which included natural history and Native American artifacts. The museum later became the Dayton Museum of Natural History, and eventually was renamed the Booneshoft Museum of Discovery. The museum was moved into its own location in 1955, and the library continued to serve as such until it was demolished, and the current building built, in 1961.

Today the libaray continues to be a happening place, with 20 branches located throughout Montgomery County. It’s unusual to drive past the two branches near me and not see the parking lots nearly full. In addition to traditional books and periodicals, the library began carrying music on tape in the seventies, which eventually expanded to VHS videos and audiobooks on tape, then Music CDs, DVDs, and audiobooks on CDs.  Dowloadable ebooks and audiobooks were added via Overdrive in the early 2000s – more on that in a future blog post. Programs for kids, teens and adults – on book-related subjects and otherwise – are popular.

Dayton Metro Library The library is once more outgrowing its downtown location, and has proposed an ambitious expansion plan in an effort to stay relevant and serve the community. Changes in technology – especially in book publishing – are creating a shift in how consumers patronize the library, and the usage of services has shifted to a lot more computer use, more online checkouts of e- and audiobooks, and more demand for meeting space, as opposed to shelf space for paper books. Studies have focused on cities like Fort Wayne, Indiana, where a new, expanded library has played a key role in revitalizing a stagnant downtown.

But the best part of the library remains the same – whatever book or written material you’re looking for, the library probably has it – and if they don’t, they have partnerships with a public libraries all over Ohio, and chances are, you’ll find it there. As has been the case for as long as I can remember, there’s no charge to have a book you’re looking for, transferred to your local branch if they don’t have a copy there. Loans for (and transfer of) materials from participating Ohio libraries are also free.

I got my first library card around age 6 or 7. Having lived in the area all my life, I’ve often taken the library for granted. But I’ve had friends who’ve moved out of the area to larger cities, who tell me their libraries don’t have near the selection Dayton’s library has.

What about you? Does your hometown have a great library? Do you use its service, or are you even aware of all your library offers?  (I admit that if I were to try to list them, I’d probably miss a few.)

Historic photo via Dayton Metro Library | 1960’s photo – unknown

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

6 Responses to \

  1. We just completed a new library in our town. When I heard they were starting to raise funds a couple of years ago, I volunteered to be on the fund raising committee and I loved all of the events and meeting all the people. Everyone who worked alongside me loved libraries and were avid readers. I’m so glad I became involved.

  2. I remember hanging out at my local library with I was a kid. I would ride my bike there. I don’t get my kids to ours enough as it is across town and our schedules are crazy with homework taking up so much time these days. Ours was recently in trouble, but I understand the library system next door bought it so things should be looking up. Now we will have access to all the other libraries around as they own several of the neighboring city sites. I love the picture of Dayton’s original library. Things like that are just too cool. Did I read that correctly, that building was moved and is still standing. Another became the library and that one was torn down?

  3. I’m a big fan of libraries–used to work in them. I love that photo of the old one in your town. That would be cool to see one like that now! Although I do love my library drive thru window!

  4. Lee, good for you! The library is something I consider so worthwhile, even though I don’t use ours as much as I used to. Thanks for stopping by!

    Debra, I hear you on getting the kids there! I’m lucky we have a branch really close. As for the original library, no, it was razed when the new one was built, unfortunately. But you’ve given me an idea for another MTM blog post! One of our suburbs has an original Carnegie Library building, which was still in use when I went there as a kid. It’s very cool!

    LOL Coleen, me too! I think the library in downtown Dayton is the only one of ours with a drive-thru! Although I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re considering adding them.

  5. new main branch is beign built in Calgary too. I love the evolution of our library system – from quietly come in and borrow a book to becoming community centers, with computer labs and coffee shops. its cool.

  6. Jennette,
    I practically lived at the library when I was a kid. Whenever I’d visit I could never take out just one book–an armload was the norm. At one point in my adult life I was at the libary so much that the librarian knew my name. Hamilton County library, in Cincinnati, has an interlibrary loan system, or at least they used to, which was a big help whenever I researched story ideas.