Northwest Ohio Libraries and a Museum 2018

November 6, 2018

Liberty Center Public Library 2018

Liberty Center Public Library tour August 2018

Wauseon Public Library 2018

Wauseon Public Library Tour August 2018

Museum of Fulton County 2018

The Museum of Fulton County tour August 2018

Waterville Branch Library 2018

Waterville Branch Library tour August 2018

Way Public Library 2018

Way Public Library Tour August 2018

Julia Ward, Bill Morris, and I traveled to Northwest Ohio in August to meet former State Library Board Member, John Myles, for a tour of four public libraries and the Museum of Fulton County, where John volunteers.  I had visited the Liberty Center and Wauseon public libraries in 2011 but both have undergone recent renovations and both have had changes in directors since my earlier visit.  It was my first visit to the Museum, Waterville Branch of Toledo Lucas County Public Library, and Way Public Library.

The Liberty Center Public Library had many uses prior to becoming a library including housing a pharmacy, a bar, and a hotel.  The library has a staff of 8 and the current director is Arla Fry.  In 2002 the library Board purchased the vacant space next door to the library but due to financial constraints was unable to utilize the space until recently.  A year ago, the library completed renovating the vacant space and has used to create a large reading area, complete with easy chairs and a fireplace, room for the collection of adult materials, and meeting rooms.  There are plans to create a local history/genealogy area in the expanded space.  The renovations allowed the library to open up the children’s area, creating more appealing space for the library’s youngest users.

Our next stop was the Wauseon Public Library, directed by Maricela DeLeon.  The Wauseon Public Library got its start as a Carnegie Library, which was completed and opened in 1906.  It underwent a renovation in 2017.  The $1 million renovation included making the library more handicap accessible by moving the elevator to the front of the building and making the restrooms accessible.  The library also now has new stairways and windows, which provide the library with more natural light.  The project was paid for in part by a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant received through the federal Targets of Opportunity Program.  The library staff continues to fine tune the renovations by relocating furniture and collections.

The Museum of Fulton County opened in May of 2018 and is a recreation of the county’s first courthouse.  The Museum is a joint-use facility and in addition to the Museum, houses the Fulton County Visitor’s Bureau, and Fulton County offices including the command center of the Emergency Management Agency.  The Museum’s mission is to collect, preserve, and interpret artifacts and written records pertaining to Fulton County and it provides an opportunity for visitors to explore and discover Fulton County’s rich history through permanent and special exhibits, many of which are interactive.  It tells the story of the pioneer families of the area and includes an exhibit honoring racecar driver, Barney Oldfield.  The county motto, “Find a way or make your own,” is threaded throughout the stories told through the Museum’s well-done exhibits.

The Museum is home to the Spiess Research Center, which includes many written family histories, local and county histories, and obituaries, making it a rich resource for researchers.  The Museum also has a display case that can be used for displays from local history and genealogical societies.

The Waterville Branch Library is part of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library system.  The current building, managed by Will Harbauer, was built in 1965 and was last renovated in 2005.  The land for the library was donated by the City of Waterville, which has a population of about 5,500 residents.  The library partners with the city on programs, such as using a nearby gazebo to provide music in the part programs during the summer months.  The library is also engaged in collaborative efforts with the local schools.  A library staff person has taught teachers how to use the library’s equipment, including 3-D printers and they regularly provide in-service training for teachers in the district.  Children’s materials account for the largest percentage of the library’s overall circulation.  The library features two meeting rooms, with the larger one being able to accommodate 47 people.  The meeting rooms feature panels sculpted by George Carruth.  A highlight of the Waterville Library is the Make the Mosaic tile art displayed at the front of the library, facilitated by artist Gail Christofferson in 2013.  The artwork is a 13 ft x 6 ft mosaic, created by community members from an illustration by a local Waterville community member, Alison Quinn.

Our last stop on this trip was the Way Public Library in Perrysburg. The library has stood in its current location since 1892.  The current 45,855 square foot library was renovated and expanded in 2001 and holds a collection of more than 120,000 items.   During the 2001 renovation, the library was closed for a year and library services were provided from an off-site location.  Janel Haas is the director of the Way Public Library.

The library’s Beyond Books collection caught my eye almost immediately.  This collection includes equipment and electronics such as a metal detector and a portable scanner, home tools including an air quality meter and a thermal leak detector, musical instruments, games, sports equipment, and science and educational resources such as binoculars and a telescope.  All items are available to be checked out for 1-2 weeks and can be renewed once.  It is really an amazing collection of items that you don’t necessarily expect to find at your local public library.  The library also offers a Party Express collection that includes games such as Giant Connect Four and badminton and a karaoke system.  These items can be checked out for four days and cannot be renewed.

The Way Public Library does a significant amount of programming for children, adults, and teens.  The library normally offers about 800 programs per year and last summer, there were 200 children’s programs offered as part of the library’s Summer Reader Program.  Programs are funded by the Way Public Library Foundation and Friends, which merged into one group in 2013.

The library also features meeting rooms, quiet study areas, public computers, and attractive spaces for children, teens, and adults.