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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Donations to the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Library System needs to thank all of those people who donate books to the library.


Every year, we receive approximately 2,000 books as donations to the library system.


The donations encompass a wide variety of topics, in the same way that people use the library for a broad spectrum of information and reading.


Some of the donations are added to the collections as "new books," while others replace existing books worn out by usage.


With public library usage at an all-time high nationwide, we are seeing more popular titles in a worn condition.


For example, any Stephen King novel donated to the library will likely replace the same title worn from literally hundreds of readings by a library patron.


Some titles go to our storage collection of lesser-used titles at the Tiltonsville Branch, where they can be requested from the computer system.


Other books are sent to the Regional Library facility, where they are housed awaiting requests.


Libraries are a world of sharing information with all, by collecting materials for everyone to use collectively.


A librarian that I knew years ago, always said that the public library is the "People's University."


Collecting books for a library started in our area on September 15, 1815 when Steubenville Druggist Michael Johnston advertised that "part of the books have been procured" and the same is open for loaning.


His Drug Store on 3rd Street would be the home of the books, and it was open for "drawing books" every other Saturday from "9 o'clock to 12 o'clock."


Meetings of the "Steubenville Library Company" were held monthly, and officers were elected including, Isaac Jenkinson, David Moody, and Benjamin Tappan.


Another library appeared on May 30, 1829 when the Herald Book Store established a small collection of "new novels" which could be "hired out" for reading.


Edwin M. Stanton is known for loaning out his personal collection of books from the Turnbull Book Store where he worked in the 1830s.


His price was 10 cents per person, per term of loan.


An amusing article appeared on October 30, 1850 telling of the formation of the City Library Association.


The article continued that, "It is a poor man's Library, the poor read the books.  But is that any reason why the rich man with his comfortable private library, should not be a subscriber to a public one?"


That library contained over 500 volumes, growing to almost a thousand volumes by 1855.


The 1855 Annual Report bemoaned the problem of overdue and lost books.  That is simply the cost of operating a library.


The members of the association funded these early subscription libraries.


This library cost $ 3.00 to join, and 10 cents a month to use it, or 5 cents a month not to use it.


By 1857, "gifts of books" were being encouraged to stock the collection.


As you can see, the collective gathering of books has always been part of libraries, and the library and all of our users thank people for sharing.