History of the Blanchester Public Library
The Blanchester area has been served by libraries of one form or another dating back to the Civil War, but the official founding date of the Blanchester Public Library is May 25, 1935.
An organizational meeting of concerned citizens was held on this date at the home of H.O. Craig with State Librarian Paul Noon in attendance. The first Board of Trustees was elected and state funds were promised. The new library opened Feb. 15, 1936 in a rented room in the Gibson Building on West Main Street with 1,147 books and May Reeder as the first librarian.
Alden Shawhan, a library board member who died in 1944, left money in his will to construct a new library building. The library eventually did receive the money, but due to a controversy over the will, the new building at the current location did not open until Nov. 4, 1957.
The library more than doubled in space to its current size of 7,500 square feet with an addition in 1988-89. An open house to celebrate the new building was held on Sept. 10, 1989.
The Blanchester Public Library, like most public libraries in Ohio, receives the majority of its funding from the state's Public Library Fund. Local voters approved a 1.0 mill operating levy for the library in 1996 and renewed it in 2001 and 2006. Funds from this levy provided about 15 percent of the library's operating budget.
The library sought an increase to a 2.0-mill, continuing levy in the spring of 2010, and voters resoundingly approved it by a 63 to 37 percent margin. The library began receiving funds from this levy in 2011, and it provides nearly 40 percent of the annual operating revenue. These funds are indispensable in allowing the library to meet an increasing demand from patrons as monies from the state continue to decrease.
The library is one of the nine founding members of the Consortium Of Ohio Libraries (COOL) and in March 2013 went live on the Evergreen system. The move to an open-source circulation system will help the library maintain costs in the future while also providing patrons quick access to about 400,000 items. COOL currently consists of 11 small libraries.
Today, the library features more than 55,000 items and nearly 10,000 registered cardholders.