A Visit to the Toledo Lucas County Public Library

August 12, 2017

Toledo Lucas County Public Library 2017

State Librarian Beverly Cain and Bill Morris visited the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) on July 27, 2017

Bill Morris and I had the pleasure of visiting the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) on July 27.  It was our first visit to the library since 2013.  We were not surprised to see that some changes had taken place in the four-year interim.

Our visit began with a lunch meeting that included Director Clyde Scoles, Deputy Director Jason Kucsma, Main Library Manager Meg Delaney, Youth Services Manager Nancy Eames, Manager of External & Government Affairs Rhonda Sewell, Assistant Administrator of Branch Services Nikki Naylor, and Board member, Jesus Salas.  This gave us the opportunity to hear about the many things that have been taking place in Toledo and I was able to talk with Mr. Salas about his passion for libraries and his ideas for serving migrant families in Northwest Ohio.

We then returned to the library for a tour.  There are two things that immediately come to mind whenever I visit TLCPL’s Main Library.  The first is that when approached from the outside, the building is huge, spanning a full city block.  The second is that although the Main Library is 77 years old, having first opened in 1940, everything about it manages to look fresh and new.  Even the beautiful vitrolite murals throughout the library look astonishingly new.  This is a library that has been maintained with care and diligence throughout its history.  It has also been continually updated to meet the ever changing needs of its community.

Highlights from our tour included the Rogowski-Kaptur Labor History Room, home to a collection of books and memorabilia pertaining to the history of labor in the Northwest Ohio and Detroit areas.  The room is named for Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur’s mother.   The Library’s Local History Department, featuring the Blade Rare Book Room, is a treasure trove of yearbooks, rare documents, books, memorabilia, photographs and maps that document the history of the area.  (TLCPL) had a difficult time getting Bill and me to move past the display case that featured a handwritten letter from Babe Ruth.  There are also a number of digital collections related to the history of Northwest Ohio.  As a Digitization Hub for Ohio’s Public Libraries and a partner in the Ohio Digital Network, TLCPL is working hard to ensure that its unique collections are preserved and accessible for future generations.

Just one outstanding feature of the library is the vitrolite that can be seen throughout the building, including the Central Court and the Children’s Library. The Main Library is home to a remarkable display of glass mosaic murals called Vitrolite.  Vitrolite was produced by the Libbey Owens Ford Company in the 1930s and 1940s.  The murals have been beautifully preserved and add to the character and beauty of the library while showcasing some of the work of the Libbey Owens Ford Company, which was headquartered in Toledo for many years.

The Main Library has served Toledo and Lucas County for more than 175 years and the building is a marvelous blend of the old and new.  In fact, the Library’s website says the Main Library is an outstanding mix of “Art Deco design paired with cutting edge modern architecture.”  The stunning Central Court, with its tall ceiling, skylight, and Vitrolite murals, is an excellent example of the old.  The Susan M. Sauvage Family Place Creativity Lab is just one example of the new.  Located in the Children’s Library, the 2,300 square foot Creativity Lab includes colorful, interactive panels, a full kitchen, and room for 80 children to sit at tables while they work on crafts, science projects, and other educational activities.  On the day of our visit, a children’s librarian was helping children learn to code after they had lunch as part of the Library’s Connecting Kids to Meals program, which is designed to keep children well-fed and engaged in learning over the summer.  Another example of the new is the beautiful three level glass atrium that connects the old building to the new building that was added in the Main Library’s 2001 renovation.

The Main Library is also home to a Passport Acceptance Agency, a beautiful Children’s Library, multiple meeting rooms and a large auditorium, the Library Café, the Classics Gift Shop, 125 public computers and technology training, and a wealth of programs, books, and other resources to serve people of all ages throughout the community.

Bill and I enjoyed our visit and appreciate the time Director Clyde Scoles and his staff spent with us.  We look forward to seeing what they do next!