History of Kirtland Public Library 1936 to the Present


On November 29, 1936, the newly appointed Board of Trustees of the Kirtland Public Library held its organizational meeting.  Board President Claude Williamson called the meeting to order at the Kirtland School.  The first order of business was to elect Martha Allen as Vice President, and Beatrice Gale as Clerk-Treasurer.  Other members of that first Board were Samuel Schupp, Kathryn Kile, Roy Culp and Raymond Clough.  The next order of business was to adopt a budget for the 1936-37 year which was $1,210.

The Board hired Kathryn Luse, the librarian of Mentor Schools, to catalog the books for the new Library.  LaVerne Rettig Rider was hired to assist Miss Luse.  Those first books were donations from the estates in Kirtland Hills and Waite Hill.  The Library Board gathered donations from the Scotts, Blossoms, Hannas, Hales, Otises, Kings, Moores, Whites, Augustuses, Danglers and many others.  Miss Luse and Mrs. Rider (then Miss Rettig) worked through the summer cataloging and organizing.  Just before school started, Miss Luse went back to her position in Mentor.  Miss Rettig became the first head librarian, and her salary was $50 a month.

The Library officially opened on October 5, 1937.  It was located in one room on the second floor of the Kirtland Elementary School.  The library was used as a study hall and a resource center for the school children.  Adults used the library during non-school hours.  Mrs. Rider remained the head librarian until 1940.  

In 1957, the Library moved to a room on the first floor of the elementary school.  Later it expanded into an adjacent room to accommodate the growing book collection.  In 1961, the Library was open two evenings a week, and in 1964, Saturday hours during the school year were added.

By 1967, the library had outgrown its space in the school.  On December 11th of that year, it opened in the Kirtland Shopping Center, in the space formerly occupied by the original Rogers Supermarket and now occupied by the Angel Care Daycare Center.  The new location provided space for an expanded collection and new services.  At this time the Library became more accessible to the whole community.  Adult usage soared, and students continued to use the library during and after school.  The move to larger space prompted an increase in children’s services.  Pre-school Story Time and the Summer Reading Club were introduced in 1968 by Deloris Parsons, then Head Librarian.  Becky Adams was the first “Story Lady”.  Cecelia Vlchek, who later became Head Reference Librarian, succeeded her.  Story Time and Summer Reading programs are still very popular today, thanks to the guidance of Children’s Librarian Beth Bahr.

The Library remained in the shopping center for many years until there was no more space to be had.  Between 1967 and 1982, the book collection tripled in size to over 45,000 volumes, and the magazines and audio-visual collections were mushrooming.  This prompted another move, back across Route 306, to the building that is now Wood Manor.  Opening Day was April 1, 1982. 

The Friends of the Kirtland Public Library was formed in October 1983.  The Friends provide support to the Library through fundraising and volunteer activities.  The group’s membership dues, auctions, cookie walk, yard sales and book sales provide income for the organization.

In 1986, the Board of Trustees and Deloris Parsons, the Library Director, began a seven-year $1.5 million capital campaign to raise money for “A Place to Call Our Own”.  The Library had again outgrown its rented space.  In December 1986, T. Dixon Long and Anthony Ocepek gave the Library Board a 5-acre parcel of land on Chillicothe Road.  The land is now the home of our 14,700 square foot library.  Most of the money for the new library was raised through major donations, Friends fundraisers and a general community campaign supported by over 60% of the households in our service area.

The doors of the new library opened in November of 1992.  Since then, the Library has continued to grow.  Now the collection has 70,000 items, including books on tape, videos, DVDs and CD-ROM programs.  The Library continues to offer several Pre-school Story Times each week, along with a variety of other programs for children and adults.

The new building houses the Deloris C. Parsons Community Room. The Friends’ Art Gallery is in this room and local artists display their work.  Many organizations hold countless meetings in the room every year.  The new building also has the Kiwanis Room which holds a collection of books and articles on Kiwanis, Kirtland and Ohio history.  In 1997, the Library began to be open on Sunday afternoons during the school year.

In 1998, Kirtland joined CLEVNET, a resource sharing organization which provides the Library with an online public access catalog and an automated circulation system.  The automated system allows for faster checkout service and allows our patrons to access 30 member libraries’ collections.   We also participate in OPLIN (Ohio Public Library Information Network), a state-wide Internet program that allows patrons to access thousands of databases.  In 1999, staff members and a student volunteer created the Library’s first web page.  Kirtland Public Library’s web address is www.kirtland.lib.oh.us.

In 2002 we opened The Picture Book Room, a special place for young children and caregivers to spend time with books and toys.

In 2004, the Library introduced wireless access so patrons can use their own laptops in the Library. 

In 2007 The Library successfully passed its first property tax levy; thanks to the support of the citizens of Kirtland, Kirtland Hills and Waite Hill.