National Library Week is April 8-14, and what better way to celebrate than by looking back at the 215-year history of libraries in Worthington.
In 1802, when settlers from Granby, Connecticut, made the arduous, multi-week journey by wagon to settle in what would become Worthington, one of the items they brought with them was a collection of books. According to "The 200-Year History of Worthington Libraries" by Lisa Fuller, the settlers formed a subscription library, with two dollars per subscriber appropriated from the group’s fund to pay for books. Considering the average monthly wage at the time was $12, this is significant amount to put toward books.
The community's dedication to library services continued throughout the tumultuous decades of the 1800s. In the 1820s and '30s, the village offered a literary society for adults and, in the 1850s, the school board circulated books to the community. In the 1870s, the post office was the location for a collection of circulating books.
Beginning in the early 1900s, the Fortnightly Club, a group of women devoted to the study of Shakespeare and literature, established a library committee. The group secured a space on the second floor of the Kilbourne Commercial Building at 679-681 High Street, from which members of the group served as librarians and circulated books.
In 1927, the library got its own dedicated building for the first time with the construction of the James Kilbourne Memorial Library at 752 High Street. Elizabeth Jones Deshler donated money to build the library in memory of her grandfather, Worthington founder James Kilbourne.
Five decades later, the library ran out of space at this site and a new building was constructed at 805 Hartford Street, opening in October of 1979. This is the current site of Old Worthington Library, 820 High Street, where the library system's administration and technical services departments can also be found.
The expansion of library services continued in 1997 with the construction and opening of Northwest Library at 2280 Hard Road. A unique partnership between Worthington Libraries and Columbus Metropolitan Library, Northwest Library was the first library in Ohio and only the second in the entire nation to be built and operated by two systems.
The latest addition to the Worthington Libraries family is Worthington Park Library, 1389 Worthington Centre Drive in the Worthington Park Shopping Centre. Opened in 2008, this location serves patrons in the northeast part of the library's district.
Throughout the centuries, the libraries of Worthington have changed and grown to meet the information and entertainment needs of the community. Amidst all that change, though, one thing has remained constant: Worthington loves its libraries.