Following several efforts to establish a library in Steubenville as early as 1830, the library was founded on October 1, 1899 to serve the City of Steubenville.
During the early years of the 20th century, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was providing funds for libraries all over the United States. Eventually, he provided funding for over 2,800 libraries throughout the world.
A grant was received from Carnegie to construct the building at S. 4th & Slack Streets in downtown Steubenville. It opened on March 12, 1902 and has served as a library ever since.
On January 1, 1936, the library system was assigned county-wide library service with the Toronto Branch Library being formed in 1937. Most branches were established under sponsorship of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in 1939 - 1941, except the Schiappa Branch which was established in 1987. Several new buildings house the branch libraries today.