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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.

SEO Regional Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, October 12, 2014


For those of you who have frequented our public library system for many years, you are probably familiar with the three-letter code of “SEO.”


You may have seen the code being used on some book that you received to fill a request, or the letters may have been part of a computer printout.


You might have overheard staff talking about something related to “SEO” dealing with library operations.


SEO today stands for “Serving Everyone Ohioan” but the original name was the “State Library Service Center” of the State Library of Ohio with “SEO” referring to Southeastern Ohio.


The Service Center was established in 1961 as one of the four Field Units of the State Library, established to provide library services to the “hinterlands of Ohio” which were physically removed from Ohio’s metropolitan areas.


SEO served an eight-county area of Ohio from Martins Ferry to Marietta to Zanesville.  It was and continues to be a “library to serve libraries” that provides additional resources and services to libraries within that area.


SEO was established in Caldwell, and operated out of a former shopping center in the eastern portion of the village.  In 1977, Harrison and Jefferson Counties were added to the service area of SEO.


From 1961-2002, SEO provided contract Bookmobile Service to several of the counties of the SEO region.


In 1980, the SEO Center relocated to a warehouse facility on SR 821 south of Caldwell on leftover land from the construction of I-77.  That building has been enlarged and is today owned by the State Library of Ohio.


Two-day-per-week delivery service began in the 1980s, moving library materials among the 14 library systems of SE Ohio, expanded to three-days-per-week.


At the same time, the SEO Center announced that it would be developing an online computer system and invited public libraries to join the system in 1986.


Resource sharing had started back in the 1970s when facsimile machines were installed in all area libraries to move lists and information quickly among the libraries.   


Our library system joined libraries in Cadiz, St. Clairsville, and Woodsfield as the first four links on the computer system in 1986, and began circulating materials online in 1988.  By 1993, nearly all of the libraries in the SEO service area were online and sharing library materials.


Upgrades later, the SEO Regional Library has now joined 90 library systems across Ohio with 222 locations in 46 counties to the online database which allows the collections to move from library-to-library five days-per-week.


Next week, the Preble County District Library will add its 20 locations as the newest members of the SEO family as they “go live.”


In the meantime, the other “field units” of the State Library of Ohio have closed and SEO serves the entire State of Ohio from Caldwell.


I like to point out to my friends at the State Library of Ohio that the SEO Regional Library in Caldwell is housed in a state-owned facility, but the main library in Columbus is now housed in a rented building where they relocated a decade ago when the Ohio Supreme Court took over the Ohio Departments Building where the State Library of Ohio had been housed since 1931.


I doubt that people traveling on I-77 even notice the warehouse tucked under the hill near Caldwell with computers and a quarter million books that are always traveling around Ohio to fill the requests of the public.


And while people may notice the ownership stamp on the library book that they pick-up at their local library, it makes no difference to them where it came from, but rather that it is available for their use.


The SEO Regional Library Center has been studied as the ideal method of using library resources to the best advantage of the taxpaying public.