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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The County Branch Libraries

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, December 06, 2009

Each of our Branch Libraries in the southern portion of Jefferson County has a unique history.

 

All four locations were opened as branch libraries of the Carnegie Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County about 1940 as part of the WPA Library Program.

 

Small allocations of “state aid” combined with federal library monies were used to purchase the basic elements of a library.

 

Chairs and tables were acquired from the Ohio prison system where oak furniture was manufactured by inmates and sold to local governments.

 

Some of these 70 year old chairs and tables can still be found around the library system, with some pieces having been refinished three times over their history.

 

The Adena Branch Library operated for several years in various storefronts, with most of its early days spent upstairs in the village hall.

 

In 1983, the branch moved into the former Adena School building to a front classroom.

 

In 1998, the library system acquired a building on Hanna Ave from St. Casimir Catholic Church, and paid for renovations for the building.

 

The building dates to 1890 and has an interesting history, having served as a grocery store, offices, and a hotel for mining families to start their households.

 

Today, the Adena Branch is a bright and cheerful space, serving the extreme southwest corner of the county with library services.

 

The Dillonvale Branch Library operated for 25 years within the former Dillonvale School building, with its own outside entrance.

 

In 1968, it moved to the second floor of the village hall where it stayed until 1984 when it moved to a storefront on Liberty Street.

 

Unfortunately, the 1990 Short Creek flood placed a foot of water in that location, and much of the collection was ruined.

 

The building was cleaned up and reopened, but the library closed in 1994 until a new location could be found.

 

The library system purchased property next to the Dillonvale Post Office a constructed a new building which opened in 1997.

 

The site was the location of the Devonshire Brick Co. kilns in the 1920s, our only library located literally on a “pile of bricks.”

 

Today, the Dillonvale Branch services an area from Smithfield to Mount Pleasant in the southern part of Jefferson County.

 

The Tiltonsville Branch Library serves the Yorkville-Tiltonsville-Rayland area in a building purchased in 2000 that was formerly the Swiger Appliance Co.

 

Constructed in 1915, the building was formerly a Grocery Store and storefront for a hardware store.

 

The building has a basement which allows us to shelve books whose interest has declined, but for which requests may be received.

 

The books are in the computer database and can be requested.

 

Today’s Tiltonsville Branch is our busiest location in that area, and is well-used by area residents.

 

The Brilliant Branch Library began operations on Market Street, but moved to the Wells Township Building in 1962 and remains there today.

 

The space was renovated in 1998, but some of the 1940 oak chairs remain, refinished for the 3rd time.

 

The Wells Township Trustees have always been great library supporters.

 

The unusual fact is that they own the building which we lease, and the library system owns the parking lot.

 

There is one more 1940 oak chair with a story.  When I arrived in 1983, this weather-worn chair sat in the driveway at the Main Library with a handmade sign, “No Parking.”

 

Each evening, the chair was placed back in the garage.  I purchased a new sign to be attached to the building and the chair was retired to a storage room.

 

When we had the chairs refinished for Brilliant, I sent the parking sign chair along and today it graces my office.

 

Twenty years in the snow and rain of the driveway, and today back in the library serving people visiting my office.