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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.

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Tiltonsville Branch Library
By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 17, 2015

 

As our branch library system was first developing in the 1940s, three “Station Stops” were located in the southern part of Jefferson County near the Ohio River.

 

“Station Stops” was a term used to describe a location where 3-4 shelves of books were deposited in a local store and could then be checked out by the public under the supervision of the store owner.

 

It was a way of gauging popularity and demand, and according to early reports from irritated librarians, a good way to lose library books when the storekeeper didn’t properly manage his/her shelves of books!

 

But I digress.  Efforts led to the establishment of tiny branch libraries in both Yorkville and Tiltonsville.  In the early 1950s, the Village of Tiltonsville constructed a new village hall and the library was invited to share the space.

 

The Yorkville Branch Library closed in 1956 due to its close physical relationship to Tiltonsville, and the ability then to concentrate resources on one larger location.

 

And so, the Tiltonsville Branch Library operated for 50 years in this situation.

 

By 2000, the Library System was looking for a larger location in the area, in its own building, and not finding success.  While the hospitality of the Village was appreciated, the new world of automation and computers demanded a new location.

 

One day, I received a phone call from Ed Swiger asking if the “library was really looking for a new location for the library, and if so how about his family Appliance Store that was to close shortly?

 

I took my Head of Buildings and Maintenance and we met Mr. Swiger at the store for a tour.  The once-Appliance Store was being cleared and I could picture a Branch Library in the location, and so could he.

 

He bubbled with excitement, and kept saying, “What do you think?  How would you arrange it?  I know the kids would love it!”

 

Mr. Swiger had more than just the sale of the building to the library on his mind; he wanted to re-purpose his Appliance Store into an active library and was concerned about his community.

 

The site on Walden Ave., yes everyone still says it is old route 7, is within view of the Village of Rayland, and up-the-road from Yorkville.  The location is within distance from a population of about 8,000.

 

The Library System purchased the building for a very reasonable cost, and added central air conditioning and new restrooms, and on opening day, Ed Swiger stayed the whole day.  I heard”Wow” so many times from him that day.

 

The Tiltonsville Branch Library also has garage space in the rear and a large basement which has become our system’s “last copy/added copy storage area.”  Some 8,000 books reside in the basement and are in the computer system for loan; the last copy of titles, or additional copies of things that are requested.

 

Better than that is the fact that checkouts at the Tiltonsville Branch (computer code STL) are nearly 70,000 per year, up from the 14,000 the last year of operations in the former location.

 

We even have people from Martins Ferry coming to Tiltonsville just to use the library, or people who see a book listed online that is in the basement.

 

The bright colorful library with its children’s programs is bursting at the seams some days, and that is great!

 

It’s my favorite branch library, but of course, I say that about all my libraries!

 

Is it another duckling, or a jewel on the necklace of Jefferson County libraries?