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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 Dillonvale Branch Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 10, 2015


Last week, I introduced the possibility that the Main Library could be either a Mother Duck, or a Grande Dame; making the branches ducklings or the jewels on a necklace.


Seems like lots of people liked both ideas.


I always get excited by a branch library visit, because each and every location is unique in its own way and provides great library services to its customers.


In 1988 when the library system first automated, we were linked to libraries in Cadiz, Woodsfield, and St. Clairsville.  A library user told me that he really liked the selection of books at the St. Clairsville Public Library, and had even gone there in person and was pleased.


He said that our “selection was okay.”  I must admit some disappointment in his comments, but the next day a woman told me how she really enjoyed using the Main Library in Steubenville as we had a better selection of books than her home library.


You guessed it, she was from St. Clairsville.  For the first time, the collections of different libraries were visible at your fingertips opening a new world to the avid library user.


Today, people using our online catalog can see 90 public library systems in Ohio, with over 200 branch locations and 7 million items, not to mention the growing collection of eBooks and eMagazines.


Some of our library customers use more than one library depending on where they live, work, and shop.  We often have library customers who live in Harrison and Belmont Counties, and vice versa.


Whatever library door you enter, in person or electronically, is fine with me.  Another possible door is the one at our Dillonvale-Mt. Pleasant Branch Library, which sits next to the Dillonvale Post Office.


The Dillonvale Library began in 1940 as another WPA Library Project, providing a couple shelves of books in a store that could be borrowed on an honor system.  Eventually, the library grew and moved into the former Dillonvale High School where it remained until 1968.


When the school space was no longer available, the library moved to the 2nd floor of the Village Hall where it shared space with village officials.


When I arrived in 1983, it was still in the Village Hall, but the former Drug Store on Liberty Street was available and we moved there into the ground floor space.


Usage really increased until the 1990 Short Creek Flood sent 11 inches of water into the library and made one of the worst messes I have ever experienced in a library.


Every book on the bottom shelf was ruined by mud and fast growing mold, and some shelves collapsed with the rushing water.  Several of us loaded the salvageable books in trucks to be taken away and stored.


The Dillonvale Library was closed for several years until we found an available lot upon which to build a replacement library.


During construction, we found that the new library sits on the former Devonshire Brick Co. site, and we found it easier to raise the building a couple of feet than excavate the brick debris.  The new site is outside the flood plain and the extra height helps too.


Today’s Dillonvale Library is a beautiful facility that circulates 10 times more items than the former locations.  It is linked by fiber optic to the State Communications Network.


I still chuckle when I think back to the first computer link we had there in 1997, when telephone lines were used to transmit computer data.


The former General Telephone Co. representative confirmed that “you want a 56K line that is on all-the-time in Dillonvale?”


The look on his face was the fact that this would be a difficult task, and he said that “they would have to find a big screwdriver that would hold the rotary circuit open all the time.”


I am unsure how long it was that way, but a large screwdriver did a great job holding open the circuit into the Dillonvale Library allowing data to flow effortlessly.


So, is the Dillonvale Library another duckling or a jewel in the necklace?


I think it is both and much more; a neat place to explore and pick up one of those 7 million items that you can borrow from all those other libraries.