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Small Libraries of Ohio

Ohio Library Council Small Libraries Division is working to connect small libraries around Ohio.  We would like to ask your library to share some information with us.  All libraries that respond before August 1, with a short informational piece about their library and a picture, will be entered into a drawing for one OLC member registration fee paid to the OLC Convention in September.  Library information will be posted on our blog as well as added to the OLC Small Libraries Division website.

Convention information:

Small Libraries Division information:

Libraries have started to share with us!  Let us show your library off by sending your information to

Leetonia Community Public Library


The Leetonia Community Public Library was first established as a school district library in April of 1935. The library’s primary service area covers the Leetonia Exempted Village School District, which includes Leetonia, OH and Washingtonville, OH, and the surrounding rural areas. For years the library was situated in downtown Leetonia, until the library built its current building in 2009 on the site of the old high school at 181 Walnut St in Leetonia, where staff currently work to meet the needs of patrons and community.

St. Clairsville Public Library

St. Clairsville

St. Clairsville Public Library is a school district library serving a rural population of  6,400. The library home is a re-purposed 1930s-era bank situated across from the Belmont county courthouse.

Wornstaff Memorial Public Library

Ashley, Ohio


The Wornstaff Memorial Public Library opened to the public in August 1928. Chelsley and Elsa Wornstaff were inspired by a memorial library they had visited in Florida, and made provisions in their will for a similar memorial in Ashley in honor of their son, Albertus.  The Will provided $10,000 with $7000 towards the building and land for the erection of “a building of stone and brick”.  The remaining funds were used for books and supplies. Additions in 1980 and 1990, doubled the size of the original building. Their forethought and generosity in creating this legacy has been a gift to the Village of Ashley for 90 years.

Furniture and other equipment were obtained from the Mansfield Reformatory. Inmates built, delivered, and installed shelving. Foundation bricks bear the legend Ohio State Brick 1927 convict made. The circulation desk and library tables are still in use today. The library was also given a few antique pieces of furniture from the Wornstaff home.

​ The Wornstaff is an association library with its trustees established by the will. It is funded through the Public Library Fund as well as levies from the Village of Ashley and Oxford Township.  The funds are administered and the library is governed by a five-member Board of Trustees comprised of residents from the Village of Ashley and Oxford Township.  In 2012, the library joined the Consortium of Ohio Libraries (COOL).

Nicci Rush


St. Paris Public Library




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Balancing Your Workload


One of my goals this year was to find the best way to balance my workload. I hoped to find this illusive “balance” and set an example for my staff on how to successfully juggle multiple tasks.   In small libraries I believe it’s typical for staff to wear many hats and have a very full workload. At my library the staff need to creatively balance their job responsibilities within the time constraints of their regular work week.  While this makes for a job that is never boring, it can sometimes be overwhelming.

Over the years I have attended time management trainings and read various books on the topic of being productive. Recently I looked for resources to help write this blog post, always looking for that one specific tip or trick that would work for me! There are lots of articles out there on best practices for balancing your job responsibilities.  Some information identified the importance of maintaining a list, clarifying your priorities, focusing on one task at a time, managing distractions and delegating effectively.

As for lists, I do have one and at the beginning of every month it is updated.   Right now my March, soon to be April list has 63 tasks on it! What I have found about myself is that focusing on the whole list is very overwhelming.  My new trick is to break down the monthly list into smaller chunks. Once a week I pick ten specific things to focus on.  Each task goes on a different multi-colored sticky note which is placed on my computer. (Remember to buy good ones, or they don’t stick!)  To recognize what I have accomplished, and motivate myself, completed sticky notes go in an envelope and are taken out at the end of each month as a visual reminder of completed tasks.

So in conclusion, balance is not something you find– it is something you create. For me balance is not better time management, but rather it has to do with better boundary management. Being realistic with what I can juggle at one time, and not being so hard on myself when things don’t get done. I do also need to be intentional with taking breaks, learn to occasionally say no, effectively delegate, continually manage distractions and most importantly, ask for help if I need it. I will always have to be deliberate when it comes to juggling my workload and as this blog has taken me well over a month to submit, it would be fair to say I am still working on it!

 “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own to-do list!”   ~Michelle Obama

Daphne Silchuk-Ashcraft

Orrville Public Library Director

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Keepin’ It Real in the Provinces!

Greetings Ohio library land and beyond!  The Ohio Library Council’s Small Libraries Division is excited to preach the small library gospel to our greater public library community.   A few years back, our former Small Libraries coordinator Amanda Bennett came up with the idea of having t-shirts designed for those on the Small Libraries Division Action Council to wear at the annual OLC Convention & Expo.  The concept featured an Amish buggy meandering down an Ohio highway with the words “Ohio’s Small Libraries: Keepin’ It Real in the Provinces!”   That, in a nutshell, is what the OLC’s Small Libraries Division is all about!  Although we are often short staffed with limited budgets,  Ohio’s small libraries do some great and innovative things!   Yes, there are times when library directors are fixing clogged toilets, shoveling snow, or pinch-hitting at Wednesday storytime, but that is what makes our jobs in the Ohio small library community so rewarding!  Every day is truly a new adventure.

At our January planning meeting, we discussed our goals and objectives for 2019.  Along with coming up with relevant programming opportunities for Ohio’s small libraries at the various OLC conferences, we want to focus on engaging the small library community in a more meaningful way.  Often the small library community feels marginalized, despite the fact that a good majority of the 251 public libraries in Ohio are considered “small libraries,” meaning they have an annual budget of under $1,000,000-ish and serve a population of 25,000-ish or less.  Why the ishes?  Well, one of the things we would like to do is to be more flexible with libraries that identify as small libraries.  There is a lot of gray area when defining whether a public library is small, medium, large, or metro.  In particular, we want to reach out to branch libraries who often have more in common with Ohio’s small libraries than with the medium or larger library systems they belong to.   In case you are interested, here is how things break down for Ohio’s public libraries.  Thanks to Doug Evans and OLC for the info!

  • 251 public library systems in Ohio
  • 127 libraries are considered “small” – having service areas of 25,000 or less AND revenue of less than $1,000,000
  • 26 libraries have services areas of less then 25,000 but revenue of more than $1,000,000
  • 4 libraries have services areas of more than 25,000 but revenue of less than $1,000,000
  • 94 libraries have services areas of more than 25,000 AND revenue of more than $1,000,000

We would also like to feature the stories of Ohio’s small libraries on this blog and on the OLC Small Libraries website.  If there are other ways we can improve on representing Ohio’s small libraries, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Action Council:

As for me, I am proud to work in the provinces!  Keepin’ it real in the 44622!

Jim Gill
Dover Public Library
Dover, OH


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Everything I Needed to Know About Life, I Learned From a Jigsaw Puzzle

By Nicole Rush

As a new school year begins, many in the small library world endeavor to strengthen our connection with our schools and community.  Communicating with outside organizations can be difficult.  Some don’t understand how we can complement what they already offer.  In our struggle to connect where we are needed, we just need to take a deep breath and try.  There will be times when the connection isn’t supposed to happen, then one little spark ignites something amazing that will be the best partnership for years to come.  It’s like putting together a puzzle, trying to make everything fit perfectly.  The most beautiful puzzles aren’t done quickly or easily.  The time and effort to make it whole should be challenging yet satisfying when completed.  We need to treat our journey towards community connections like a puzzle and let pieces fall where they may.

Everything I Needed to Know about Life, I Learned from A Jigsaw Puzzle


  • Don’t force a fit. If something is meant to be, it will come together naturally.
  • When things aren’t going so well, take a break. Everything will look different when you return.
  • Be sure to look at the big picture. Getting hung up on the little pieces only leads to frustration.
  • Perseverance pays off. Every important puzzle went together bit by bit, piece by piece.
  • When one spot stops working, move to another. But be sure to come back later (see #4).
  • Variety is the spice of life. It’s the different colors and patterns that make the puzzle interesting.
  • Working together with friends and family makes any task fun.
  • Don’t be afraid to try different combinations. Some matches are surprising.
  • Take time often to celebrate your successes—even little ones.
  • Anything worth doing takes time and effort. A great puzzle can’t be rushed.

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Strategic Planning for Small Libraries

Written by Kathleen Webb

It was time to start a strategic plan.  After several years in the director’s office, the library’s previous plan was badly outdated.  I looked over the usual resources, gave the matter some thought, and then looked for some professional help.  No matter how good my ideas were, I couldn’t get around the need for community input.  Previous surveys had not had a good rate of return.  It was time to hold community focus groups.  I must admit that I had to set aside some significant trepidation.

We contracted with the North East Ohio Regional Library System for assistance and planned those community focus groups under their guidance.

We started by asking the library staff members to submit the names of people who regularly used the library.  We all seem to know different patrons, so it was easy to compile a list of 75 names.  We knew that some people worked during the day and others didn’t drive after dark.  Our solution was to hold two focus groups for adults, one on a Friday evening and the other on Saturday morning.  I composed a business letter of invitation, printed it on library letterhead and hand-addressed the greeting and the envelope for each person.  We affixed stamps, dropped the letters in the mail and counted the days until we began to receive RSVPs.  Many people were pleased to be invited.  We had some who declined with regrets due to prior commitments.  There were only a few who did not respond at all.

We prepared for the focus groups by setting up our meeting room with tables and chairs in a large square so people could see each other as well as the leader.  We provided light refreshments but found that people were too excited to eat.  Our NEO-RLS coach brought seven questions about the community and the library.  We set up a flip chart and easel to note the responses to each question.

My trepidation began to fade as friendly people arrived.  We started with introductions and a brief explanation of our strategic planning process.  The first question was presented and people eagerly shared their thoughts.  The first sheet of paper could not contain all the ideas that were brought forth.  That sense of eager participation continued through the seven questions and two hours of our focus group.  When the questions ended and our time together was finished, many people expressed their gratitude in being asked to share.

The Saturday focus group proceeded in similar fashion.  Altogether, we had 45 patron participants, plus two staff members in each group.  We compiled the responses to each question and our NEO-RLS coach helped us find similarities to condense the details.  Those responses shaped the priorities and strategies that would make up the outline of our strategic plan.

We used the momentum of success to plan a community focus group with our teen patrons.  They respectfully responded to the same questions, adding some different insights.  They also did not hesitate to enjoy the food we provided in appreciation of their time spent with us.

Altogether, our community focus groups provided very useful information.  This experience has been successful beyond my expectations.  And yes, my trepidation is all gone!

I would encourage you to invite your patrons to share their thoughts and insights as you plan for the future of your library and your community.

Kathy Webb, Director
Marvin Memorial Library

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Make Your Library A Destination

By Sandi Thompson, Puskarich Public Library

Small libraries are in a unique niche.  Usually located in small or rural communities, Ohio’s small libraries take on local flavors and are a reflection of their community.  What makes your small library special?  Perhaps your library has a special collection of items, a huge annual event, community garden, concerts, art displays, or a unique makerspace that brings people to your library.  Today’s library continues to be a fascinating place always offering new things to do and learn.  Many small libraries throughout Ohio offer interesting things to do and see.

The Puskarich Public Library is located in Cadiz, part of southeast Ohio’s coal country.  In 1994, the Harrison County History of Coal Museum ( was established to preserve the local deep mining and surface mining history.  It is located in the lower level of the library and exhibits were developed in cooperation with the Ohio History Connection. There are many donated items in the museum including photographs, remnants of large coal shovels, watch fobs, and scrip.  Various films that explain the mining industry can be viewed in the attached theater space.  The museum is open during library hours.  Special tours with retired miners can be arranged for larger groups.

The centerpiece of the Harris-Elmore Public Library is a 1904 Elmore car built by the Elmore Manufacturing Company, only one of two are known of this model to be in existence.  The carmaker began by making bicycles in Elmore, Ohio in 1893.  By the time cars were being produced though, production was lured 20 miles away to a factory in Clyde Ohio, and eventually the company was purchased by General Motors.  Even though it was only in production for a few years, the Elmore car was considered reliable due to its relatively few parts.  The engine only had three internal parts: the piston, connecting rod and crankshaft.

OLC RoadsterThe little blue roadster came back to Elmore about forty years ago after Elmore native, Pete Willet, purchased it at auction from The Henry Ford Museum and donated it to the library.  Amy Laity, Director of the Harris-Elmore Public Library, feels fortunate to have the car and says how many enthusiasts stop to see the car due to their close proximity to the Ohio turnpike.

The Dr. Earl Sloan Library is a small rural library located in Zanesfield, Ohio.  Housed in a historic brick and gray stone building with an Italian tile roof, most people are immediately transported back to their childhood when they walk up the wide, oak tongue and groove steps to the main hall, see the original interior woodwork and plaster walls where the Library Director, Polly Bargar, still uses skeleton keys to lock the doors.  Part of the charm is maintained because the library’s bylaws include that changes “be considered and enacted deliberately” thus phone service was not installed until 1995. This well-preserved building houses pieces from the county’s first Historical Society and items that document the life of Earl Sloan, the library’s namesake.

Earl Sloan grew up in Zanesfield, the son of a local Irish immigrant, who made horse harnesses.  Earl’s father was well known for his ability with horses and for the strong-smelling liniment that he developed to rub down horses with sore muscles.   In 1871, Earl went to work with his brother in St. Louis at a livery stable.  While there, one of their customers discovered that the liniment relieved the soreness in his back.  They began advertising that the liniment was “good for man and beast.”  At 23 years old, Earl moved to Chicago since sales were so successful, and he continued to promote the product.  He later added “Dr.” to his name, trademarked the liniment and started a corporation.  In 1913, he sold the business for 1 million to William R. Warner & Co., the maker of Listerine.

Earl Sloan eventually provided money to aid in the building of the library in Zanesfield and established an endowment for its continued maintenance.  Many of his items make for a fascinating display at the library including his portrait by a local well known artist, amazing grandfather clock, Sloan’s cookbook, and other unique items.  With sufficient notice, the Director also provides “history and village tours” making a visit truly memorable. “Sloan’s Liniment” is still sold online today, being popular in the Asian market with the same label and walrus mustache according to Library Director, Polly Bargar.

The Loudonville Public Library recently created a truly baby friendly early literacy play space.  Every element that was incorporated into this area focuses on fostering the development of early literacy skills.   The centerpiece of the new area is “Marjorie’s Alphabet Soup Diner.”  The features of this special play space also include a padded bench for caregivers, many integrated tactile options for the babies (“discovery” packets containing seeds, marbles, and corn), large letters, mirrors and wall mounted interactive games.  This is a very unique space worth visiting especially if you have little ones or are thinking of creating an early literacy zone in your library. The process of creating this area was featured in Public Library Online, a publication of the Public Library Association.

An awe-inspiring installation of stained glass windows is located in the Conneaut Public Library.  The first window was commissioned in April 1998 that coincided with the opening of their new library.  Since that time, various windows have been commissioned including one depicting beautiful irises in honor of the retirement of the library director, Debbie Zingaro, and two windows were commissioned by the youth services coordinator, Stephanie Gildone, in memory of her mother appropriately depicting Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood.  As of today, the library hosts 15 stained glass masterpieces all created by stained glass artist, John Sheffer.  Each window has a special story to tell.  Sadly, John Sheffer passed away in 2016.  John had designed six windows that detailed the lifestyle and history of Conneaut.   These designs will come to fruition as friends at AZURE Stained Glass Studio complete his works to be installed later this year.

The Conneaut Public Library also is the site of a spectacular Summer Reading extravaganza.  Their Build a Better World program aims to educate local families about the history of their city through its diverse architecture.  They will be visiting different countries via “Dewey Airlines” Flight 629 inside a part of the meeting room that is transformed into the inside of an airplane.  The other half of the meeting room will change each week with oversized cut outs of a country map, flag, children in costumes of the country, animals and a famous structure. All will be painted with fluorescent paint and lit with black lights so everything glows.  Examples of hometown architecture that are influenced by that particular country will be discussed and shared.

The sights and exhibits within the walls of small libraries are as varied and unique as the communities that they represent.  Ohio has a treasure trove of wonderful and exciting libraries.  If you have a chance, take a trip and visit one of these “best kept secrets.”  There is always something new to learn and discover at a library!

-Sandi Thompson, Director, Puskarich Public Library

My thanks to these wonderful individuals who provided such interesting information for this article:

Polly Bargar, Director, Dr. Earl Sloan Public Library

Amy Laity, Director, Harris-Elmore Public Library

Mike Thornton, Director, Loudonville Public Library

Stephanie Gildone, Youth Services Coordinator, Conneaut Public Library

Cindy Prather, Assistant Director, Conneaut Public Library

Mandy Knapp, OPLIN

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Creative ways for your small library to create revenue with minimal work

Kroger Community Rewards— Your library will get a quarterly check based on the spending habits of patrons who select your library as their community reward benefactor. Setting up your library to be a benefactor of Kroger Community Rewards is quick and easy. Approximately 10 days after filling out the online form and submitting any requested supporting documentation your organization will be active to start earning money. After receiving conformation and an organization number from Kroger the next step is for your patrons to log into their Kroger Plus Account to select your library as the organization to receive the community rewards benefit.

For more information visit:

Thrift books library program–  Your library will get a monthly check for weeded and donated books sold on your behalf by Thrift Books. After signing up for the program you will be given an account login for a site where you simply scan the ISBN of the unwanted books to see if Thrift Books is interested in them. From there you pack them up, affix prepaid UPS labels on them and send them out. Thrift Books will market and sell the books and split the proceeds with your library. Any books that do not sell are eventually recycled by Thrift Books. Small libraries are often short on storage space so this is a great way to keep inventory manageable even if you hold an annual or semi-annual book sale.

For more information visit:

Amazon Smile—Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of the cost of eligible purchases to your organization. Your library’s 501(c)(3) has to be on file with GuideStar USA Inc. in order to enroll in the Amazon Smile Program. There are detailed steps to follow to apply to the program and also steps to verify status with GuideStar USA Inc. if needed.  The library must provide checking account information to Amazon Smile as they only send electronic transfers of the earned donation amount each quarter. Patrons will have to select your library as their benefactor on their Amazon account.

For more information visit:

Roger A. Donaldson, II, Network Administrator
Jackson City Library, OH

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