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City and county government records were considered the responsibility of officeholders, and libraries in the s continued to focus on printed books and lectures. YMCA included a circulating library. Prior to the Civil War, privately funded libraries were gathering places where one could spend an evening discussing current events and issues.

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Educators, however, increasingly recognized books as essential in the process of disseminating knowledge. An state law provided tax funds to purchase books for school libraries. The first major U. Fifteen years later, an act of the Ohio legislature empowered local boards of education to establish libraries and supported these institutions from the general property tax.

Connecticut Western Reserve

The Cleveland Public School Library, created by this law, did not formally open until , some 16 years before the formation of the New York Public Library. Several members of that association wanted to preserve the history of this region, which was undergoing major changes. The city's new tax-supported public library did not stop interest groups from sponsoring special libraries to address specific needs. In the Cleveland Law Library was established to benefit its members and local government officials.

Reading rooms were opened as alternatives to saloons by the Women's Christian Assn. Although created for the benefit of members, most special libraries made their books accessible to the public. The profession of library science considers the formation of the American Library Assn.

Crawford Auto Aviation Museum in Cleveland Ohio, Western Reserve Historical Society

Under his year leadership, the library gained national prominence, emphasizing proper training of librarians and easy access to books by the public, including children. This was manifest in the development of a network of branch and school libraries. The application of a decimal classification system permitted better control of a growing collection, which by consisted of more than , volumes and annually circulated more than , items.


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At century's end, the library, although seriously overcrowded, was poised for even more dramatic growth. During its first 3 decades, the WRHS had accumulated significant collections of books, manuscripts, newspapers, and maps documenting the early history and settlement of northern Ohio.

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In the society ceased operating as a branch of the Cleveland Library Assn. Like the public library, the WRHS was positioned to play an expanding role. As was common elsewhere in the nation, an important aspect of local history was still being ignored: no effective plan had yet developed to preserve local government records. Periodically thereafter, city officials bemoaned the lack of adequate storage facilities, and city records continued to be the responsibility of department heads.

The first quarter of the 20th century witnessed substantial growth and innovation for Cleveland libraries. Nationally, in response to this rapid growth, the Special Libraries Assn. By its U. Ohio ranked 6th among the states with 54 such libraries, 17 of which were in Cleveland. Despite the increasing number of libraries in Cuyahoga County, however, not all communities were served. In , a year after Ohio law authorized the formation of county library systems, Cuyahoga County residents voted approval to the first such system in the state.

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In Cleveland's government offices moved into the new city hall, on the MALL , with spacious quarters allotted for records storage. In less than 2 decades, however, expanding staff levels relegated the records to the subbasement. The Cleveland Public Library also welcomed its new Mall building, which opened in With shelving capacity for 2 million books, many separate reading rooms, and a variety of provisions for special collections, the blind, and children, the magnificent building was, among other things, a manifestation of the high esteem in which the library was held, both locally and nationally.

PALMER , president, greatly enhanced the society's holdings and reputation during the s and s. The collections amassed and those solicited from wealthy Clevelanders provided a substantial basis for future library and archival programs. During the Depression, most of the city's libraries and cultural institutions suffered serious reductions in financial support and staffing. In the source of funds for Ohio's public libraries changed from the property tax to the newly created intangible property tax.

However, revenues remained low in the face of increasing costs.

Nevertheless, the Cleveland Public Library, with 69 branches and a 2-million-volume collection, continued to lead the nation in per capita circulation. Under the sponsorship of the public library, in Works Progress Administration employees began to inventory the records of Cuyahoga County as part of a statewide project. The inventories were condensed and published in in 2 volumes, which also contained a recommendation for the establishment of a central department of records to assure their preservation and accessibility.

Unfortunately, nearly 4 decades passed before the county government moved in this direction. The inventories of Cleveland's records were issued in 5 volumes between Workers found many records in poor storage conditions; City Hall lacked sufficient space for the old records, let alone for records being created by a city whose population was approaching 1 million.

In , in one small step, a local ordinance required that copies of every printed city report and document be deposited in the Municipal Reference Library, a branch of the Cleveland Public Library at City Hall. No provisions were made for the voluminous unpublished records basic to the city's operation, and invaluable to historical research. Beginning in the s, certain city records, particularly the surviving office files of mayors back to TOM L. In a city council ordinance created a city records commission to review records disposal. Beginning in the late s, the WRHS expanded its collecting policy to include urban, black, ethnic, Jewish, architectural, and labor history.

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  6. Description Details Customer Reviews This volume collects essays and documents from a wide selection of sources--many now out of print and difficult to locate--to provide a highly readable story of the settlement and development of the "New Connecticut" region of Ohio. Review This Product No reviews yet - be the first to create one! Need help?