History of the Clermont County Public Library

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

The residents of Clermont County voted to create a public library system in 1948, and a seven-member Board of Trustees was appointed in 1949. The trustees began planning a library to serve the needs of a growing county. Their plan was clear but the road ahead was bumpy. The Clermont County Budget Commission did not approve the library’s budget for a number of years. In 1955, the Budget Commission was instructed by the state to make funds readily available and the Board of Trustees finally had the money to open the Clermont County Public Library. The library is still governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Clermont County Commissioners and the Judges of the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas.

DIRECTORS

Throughout the duration of the Library’s history, 10 people have served as the system’s director.

  • Doris Wood was head librarian from 1955 to 1977. She also briefly served as the interim director in 1982.
  • Christina Shama was the first to be called “director.” She worked for the system from 1978 to 1979.
  • Mary Mackzum served from 1979 to 1982.
  • Leo Meirose served from 1982 to 1989. He was instrumental in the passage of the levy that funded the library’s expansion. During his directorship, the plan to place a branch within a 15-minute drive of all Clermont County residents was developed.
  • David Macksam served from 1990 to 1995.
  • Sonia Long served from 1996 to 1999. She was director when the 10th branch opened in Owensville.
  • Leslie Massey and Nancy Ehas became co-directors in 2000.
  • In 2004, Leslie Massey was named sole director
  • David Mezack, former library operations coordinator, was appointed executive director in 2008 after serving as interim director since October 2007.
  • Chris Wick was appointed interim director in February 2013 and became the director in 2014. She had served as the branch manager at Union Township, Amelia, and New Richmond.

AMELIA BRANCH: 1988

In 1986, two acres of land at 58 Maple Avenue were purchased for $42,000. Hartman-Walters, Inc. designed the new building and its doors opened to the public March 27, 1988. Andrea Millican was the first branch manager. The branch was renovated early in 2011, which included combining the reference and circulation desks in one new central location. The desk includes three self-checkout stations and one library card registration terminal. Additional shelving was added to allow an expansion of the collection. New carpeting was installed throughout the building and certain walls were repainted.

BATAVIA BRANCH: 1961

The Batavia Branch opened in 1961. Harry Kahle constructed the building, located at the corner of 180 S. Third Street and 326 Broadway Street, in 1959. The original building consisted of a garage for the two bookmobiles, space for the revolving collection and for processing materials, workspace for the small staff, and a two-story wing of four apartments that generated money for the library. The later was remodeled and used as the library’s administrative offices until 2018. The branch was ready for public service in January 1961. Between 1996 and 2010, the Batavia Branch received a new roof, carpeting, paint, high-efficiency HVAC systems, flagpole, security cameras, burglar and fire protection systems, and upgrades to the technology infrastructure. In 1990, the branch was renamed for Doris E. Wood in honor of the library’s first librarian and her invaluable contributions. Ms. Wood also was instrumental in creating the Clermont County Genealogical Society, whose extensive collection is housed at the branch.

BETHEL BRANCH: 1967

Bethel had its first library in 1929. It was housed at the Grant Memorial Building under the management of the Bethel Women’s Club. In the late 1950s, the Clermont County Public Library’s bookmobile also serviced the area. In 1966, the Bethel Village Council offered to provide space to operate a branch library in Bethel. Due to budget constraints, the Trustees applied to the State Library for a grant. Once the grant was awarded, the private library was transitioned into the Bethel Branch. It officially opened August 22, 1967, inside the Grant Memorial Building. In 1985, the Bethel Branch moved to a former hardware store at 111 Plane Street. After 20 years at the Plane Street location, the Bethel Branch relocated to a new 10,000-square-foot modern facility at 611 W. Plane Street.

FELICITY BRANCH: 1994

The community celebrated the groundbreaking for the 7,300-square-foot Felicity Branch in 1991 but construction did not begin until two years later in February 1993. The delay was caused by printing ink sludge that had to be removed from the property. The environmental cleanup took 10 months. Felicity residents finally celebrated its grand opening January 30, 1994. In 2017, the branch was given a fresh new look with a new floor plan and new furniture.

GOSHEN BRANCH: 1989

The Goshen Branch opened October 29, 1989, and offered 14,000 square feet of space for materials, meetings, and reading areas. Joann Kiser was the first manager. In 2011, reference and circulation desks were combined into one new central location within the branch. The desk also includes three self-check stations. There also is a separate library card registration kiosk. New carpet, paint, and furniture were added in 2014.

MIAMI TOWNSHIP BRANCH: 1959

The Miami Township Branch Library began as the Milford Branch Library, which was the first walk-in location. The Village Improvement Society originally established the library, at 19 Water Street in Milford, as a private library in the early 1900s. In the fall of 1959, talks between the trustees of both library groups were successful making the Milford Library the first branch of Clermont County Public Library. More space was needed and the library found a location when the former Ohio Valley Egg Co-op property at 934 Lila Avenue became available. Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Library Services and Construction Act, the facility was converted to the Milford Branch in 1983. In 1996, space constraints and structural problems forced the library to search for a new location. The old Rock Bottom Grocery Surplus building at 1099 State Route 131 provided 14,000 square feet of needed space. The library reopened January 16, 1997, with a new name better identifying its expanded service area: the Milford-Miami Township Branch Library. The library quickly outgrew that space. The Library and the Milford Exempted Village School District completed a land swap and the library had land to build a new facility. A ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted March 17, 2018, for the new 35,000-square-foot building for the library plus the administrative offices and support departments. The name was changed to the Miami Township Branch to reflect the location.

NEW RICHMOND BRANCH: 1980

The first New Richmond Branch opened in 1980 for 16 hours a week. This branch was housed inside a permanently parked bookmobile in the parking lot of the vacant New Richmond School. From 1980 to 1983, the library was housed in the basement of the New Richmond High School. A permanent location was found in 1983 at 107 Market Street, when Clermont County Public Library purchased a closed tavern and an acre lot for $30,000. The New Richmond Branch opened January 30, 1984. Eleven years later in 1995, the library moved into the lower level of the refurbished New Richmond School at 212 Market Street. In March 1997, staff scrambled to save the materials and equipment when a major flood impacted the village. Thanks to this massive effort by staff, damage was minimal and the branch reopened in May. Future flooding was still a risk for the New Richmond Branch but those fears were resolved when plans were announced to build a new facility. The community celebrated the grand opening of the 10,000-square-foot Harold F. Flannery New Richmond Branch at 103 River Valley Boulevard March 14, 2004.

OWENSVILLE BRANCH: 1997

Before Owensville had its own branch library, it had a “depot.” From 1994 to 1995, the Owensville Depot offered residents access to books and other materials without driving to another town. The Owensville Depot, inside the Stonelick Township Hall was open Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Land was purchased from the Owensville Methodist Church in 1989 for the Clermont County Public Library’s 10th branch. The Owensville Branch’s grand opening was conducted August 25, 1997. The last of the originally planned libraries, the facility measures at 14,500 square feet at 2548 U.S. 50. In 2019, the branch received new carpeting, paint, furniture, and tiles.

UNION TOWNSHIP BRANCH: 1963

The Board of Trustees watched the population of Union Township grow rapidly in the late 1950s. Although both bookmobiles served the area, a physical branch was needed to offer adequate resources. In 1961, the prospect of adding a branch in Union Township was investigated. Gene Romohr, a businessman interested in community development, volunteered to build a building and lease it to the Clermont County Public Library. In 1963, the library at 4462 Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road opened its doors to the community. A fire in the winter of 1979 closed the branch for seven weeks so smoke and water damage could be repaired. The branch reopened in 1980. A large addition completed in 1988 tripled its size to 11,900 square feet. In 2010, the property at 4450 Ryan’s Way was purchased and announced as the new 20,000-square-foot Union Township Branch location. A grand opening ribbon cutting was conducted January 29, 2012, with state-of-the-art amenities, a large meeting room and a children’s activity room.

WILLIAMSBURG BRANCH: 1988

The Williamsburg Branch was dedicated September 18, 1988. Marion Croswell, library board trustee, cut the ceremonial ribbon at the celebration. The branch is at 594 Main W. Street and is within walking distance of the elementary school. Chris Yurgaites was the first branch manager. In 2007, the branch was renamed the Marion G. Croswell Branch to honor Croswell’s many years of service as a library board member. Thanks to memorial donations in 2017 honoring Marion Croswell, tabletop electrical outlets were added so guests could work on their own computers or tablets while visiting the Library.

SUPPORT DEPARTMENTS

Collection Development staff members are responsible for managing the library’s collection. They oversee the orders for new books, magazines, movies, and other materials based on community needs and interests.

The Fiscal Office and fiscal officer consults with the Board of Trustees and Director to plan, organize, and carry out the day-to-day financial activities. The Office also maintains all financial records and certifies available funds.

Human Resources employees oversee personnel policies, employee relations, benefits, and general orientation activities. The department also maintains and updates the Clermont County Public Library Human Resources Policy Manual and job descriptions.

Community Engagement staff members work to promote the library and support its programs. Staff members produce posters, handle public and media relations, maintain the library’s digital presence, provide programming resources, and produce system-wide programs.

Facilities employees run the shuttle operation five days a week to ensure books, videos, and other materials move efficiently between all 10 branch libraries. While basic maintenance is performed internally, the department works with architects and engineers to renovate, repair, and construct new facilities.

Information Services staff members purchase, installs, and maintains all the library’s technology as well as maintains the Circulation Manual used by each branch.

Technical Services employees are responsible for the acquisition, processing, and cataloging of library materials. In addition, inter-library loan services are provided through this department.

OUTREACH HISTORY

The Bookmobile: 1955

The bookmobile in Clermont County was the original form of outreach. In 1955, there were no large urban areas in the county. The Board of Trustees decided that using a bookmobile would be the best way to reach residents. Doris Wood was hired as the head librarian in 1955, a bookmobile and books were purchased, and an office was set up in a storeroom at a local tire store. In 1956, a second bookmobile was purchased to service the schools in the county. The Library owned three adult and two school bookmobiles. The last of the bookmobiles was retired in 1995.

Dreamweavers Storytelling Troupe: 1992

Storytelling as an outreach began in 1991 when Anita Haller, a nationally-known storyteller, joined the Library. Initially, all youth services staff were trained in storytelling and used it to promote summer reading in their school districts. Dreamweavers was officially formed in 1992. The members of the troupe serve multi-age audiences in a variety of venues. The goal of the Dreamweavers is to engage and inform the community using the time-honored tradition of oral storytelling.

Hands Up! Puppet Troupe: 1999

The Hands Up! Puppet Troupe was created in 1999 by Leslie Massey, former library director. The troupe members write and perform their own shows. A programming van transports the stage, sound equipment, props, and puppets. In 2020, the troupe reinvented the way they performed so they could offer their holiday show using Zoom giving them an additional way to reach the community.