The Alden Library at Ohio University and Athens County Public Libraries

September 24, 2014

Visiting Athens County & Ohio University Libraries

In September (2014) State Librarian Beverly Cain traveled to Athens, OH along with Missy Lodge and Bill Morris. Their day was spent visiting the Alden Library on the campus of Ohio University and two branches of the Athens County Public Libraries: Athens and Chauncey.


In September I traveled to Athens, OH along with Missy Lodge and Bill Morris. Our day was spent visiting the Alden Library on the campus of Ohio University and two branches of the Athens County Public Libraries: Athens and Chauncey.

At the Alden Library, we were greeted by Scott Seaman, Dean of the University Libraries. He provided us with a brief overview of the library and then took us on a tour of the facility. At the time of our visit, the library was in the very early stages of a renovation that would upgrade the elevators and HVAC system and allow for some reorganization of collections and space within the library.

The Ohio University Library was founded in 1814 and is celebrating its bicentennial this year. In honor of this occasion, the library published a bicentennial publication titled, 200 Years of Shared Discovery: The Bicentennial of Ohio University Libraries. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), an international association of educational institutions, selected this publication as a silver award winner for the 2014 Circle of Excellence Awards Program In-house Print Publication category; a division that recognizes the “best individual print publications, produced for any institutional purpose, in which all writing, photography, artwork and design were done in-house.” A bicentennial video was also produced as a companion piece to the book.

The library at Ohio University has been housed in four different buildings during its 200 years. I found it very interesting that one of those buildings was a Carnegie Library, which opened in 1905 to serve the University and the people of Athens. The Carnegie Library remained in operation until 1930. The building, next door to the Alden Library, is now home to the Scripps School of Journalism.

Ohio University Libraries provides state-of-the art technology and collections of print and electronic resources to support the learning, teaching, and research activities of students and faculty. The Libraries’ collections include more than 3 million volumes; a significant number of non-print items such as maps, DVDs, photographs and CDs; and more than 800,000 electronic resources, including e–books, e–journals, databases, and image collections.

A highlight of our tour was visiting the Archives and Special Collections areas. The Mahn Center, located on the 5th floor of the Alden Library, is the principal repository for rare books, manuscripts, and Ohio University archives material. Included here are several manuscript collections including the Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers. Ryan, a war correspondent during World War II, authored the bestselling books, The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far. The collection includes correspondence, documents, photographs, diaries, accounts, manuscripts, audio tapes, interviews, journal articles, screenplays, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and books detailing Ryan’s career as a journalist and author of several books.

Also of note is the Southeast Asia Collection, located on the first floor of the Alden Library. The collection was established in 1967 and is one of the oldest and largest collections of research materials on Southeast Asia in North America. Near the end of our tour, we caught up with Olivia Morris, Bill’s daughter, who is a student at Ohio University and is employed in the Alden Library. Olivia gave us a tour of the pcirc (patron-initiated circulation) area, which processes and delivers materials going to and coming from other OhioLINK libraries.

After our tour, we joined Scott Seaman, Kelly Broughton, Assistant Dean for Research & Instruction, Janet Hulm, Assistant Dean for Collections & Digital Initiatives, and Lauren Miller, Director of the Athens County Public Libraries for lunch at the Baker Center. This gave us an opportunity to hear about how the public and university libraries work together as well as some of the current projects being undertaken by both libraries.

We then traveled to the Athens Branch of the Athens County Public Libraries. Lauren Miller, Director, James Hill, Assistant Director and additional staff provided us with information about the library as well as a tour. We were joined by State Representative Debbie Phillips for a Question & Answer session about the State Library, public libraries in general, and some general information about the Athens County Libraries.

The Athens County Public Library system consists of seven library facilities located in the communities of Nelsonville, Athens, The Plains, Glouster, Chauncey, Coolville, and Albany. We had the opportunity to visit Athens and Chauncey as part of this trip.

The Athens county public library system was created in 1935 and the first Athens Branch was located on W. Union St. The library has been in its current location on Home St. since 1993. The branch doubled in size in 2005 when an expansion was completed. The library is open Tuesday – Saturday and offers a broad range of materials and services, with a large emphasis on programming for all age groups. The Friends of the Athens Public Library supports a number of weekly programs including lectures, yoga, dancing, musical concerts, Spanish conversation, and book clubs.   For children, the Athens Library has a large play area outfitted with several toys and puppets and regular programming is offered for children throughout the year.

When we visited in September, the library had recently hosted the Steampunk Spectacle in partnership with ARTS/WEST. The library had been the site of several “presentations, workshops, and social amusements” as well as a wonderful display, which we were able to see.   This was the second year for the Steampunk Spectacle and odds are that it will be back for a third year due to its popularity.

We also had the opportunity to visit the Chauncey Branch Library. Chauncey is a small branch library open Monday – Friday from 2:00 until 6:00. The Chauncey Public Library began as an independent library in 1937 and became part of the county-wide Nelsonville Public Library system in 1959. In 1997 the library moved to its present location in the former home of the Chauncey Village Post office. The library is a popular spot for children in the community. We were able to walk up the street to see the Chauncey Youth Garden, a community garden planted, tended, and cultivated by “library kids.” This was the second year for the garden and it has been very popular. The Chauncey Branch Library also plays an important role in the community by provided free high-speed Internet access.

At the time of our visit, the Athens County Public Libraries were in the middle of their first levy campaign and they were working hard to provide everyone in the community with information about the many benefits the library provides to area residents. I am happy to now report that the library’s campaign was successful and they positioned to continue providing a full slate of materials, programs, and services to Athens County residents.

We enjoyed our visit and would like to thank Scott Seaman and his staff at the Alden Library and Lauren Miller and her staff at the Athens County Public Libraries for hosting us.