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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 Brilliant Branch Library and Bookmobile

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 24, 2015


The Brilliant Branch Library is another of the WPA Library Projects, with records showing it established in 1940.


The WPA Library Project was one of FDR’s Work Progress Administration efforts, and it aided in the establishment of library services in rural areas of a county.


The Library occupied a small building on Market Street for many years before moving to its current location when the Wells Township Building was constructed around 1960.


For over 50 years, the Brilliant Library has been located in the township building, expanding into the former trustee office area when they moved to the former Village Building.


It was one of the first of our branches to be automated in 1988, and the first book to receive a barcode belonged to the Brilliant collection (Code STB).


In those early computer days, I chuckled to myself every time a technician or computer programmer at the State Library of Ohio in Columbus would call and ask if someone was being funny by entering “Brilliant Library” into the system.


They all finally understood that “Brilliant” is the name of the community, and I would explain where the name was derived from, and finally everyone received a lesson in Ohio geography.


Today’s fiber optic seems to have solved some of the circuitry problems that have existed with the Brilliant Library.  Many irritated phone repair people would appear and talk about the maze of wiring that keeps the Brilliant area “hot” and what a mess it can be to automate the library.


Children’s programs have always been a popular feature of the Brilliant Library, and the facility seems to draw people from far and wide; up to Georges Run and New Alexandria, and back into the county for some distance.


Another duckling and a jewel on the necklace of the library system.


Our library system joins Tuscarawas County as the only remaining counties in SE Ohio with Bookmobile Service.  In 1940, the library purchased a panel truck to begin delivering book shipments around the county.


Although not a “Bookmobile” as such, it began the program of moving books around the county to and from the branches and the station stops, where small collections were placed in stores and village halls.


Those station stops provided difficult to manage, and the service was converted to a Bookmobile in 1948, the first of 7 vehicles that has served the library system.  The first 4 were Gerstenslagers, assumed to be some sort of German vehicle, but actually made in Wooster, Ohio.


The big bus chassis vehicles lumbered around the county roads bringing books to the small towns and villages and county schools.


When I arrived in 1983, Mr. Long and Mrs. Winne were the staff well-known to county residents on a worn out vehicle arranged by the Michigan method, which to this day I don’t understand.


In 2009, we took the Bookmobile off-the-road to evaluate the service, and immediately ended school stops.  With technology, schools had changed their information sources and the Bookmobile no longer fit that model.


The library system purchased a Sprinter Bookmobile, a smaller more concise vehicle with a lift to bring library services to senior housing, preschools, and communities remote from our branch libraries.


The result is that usage tripled, with a more efficient method of distribution in addition to eBooks, eMagazines, and other online sources that can be accessed.


Lots of people still have warm feelings for the Bookmobile visit to their subdivision, school, or community, and I am glad we can still offer the service, albeit, different from days-gone-by.