50 Years Later, Library Merger Strengthens Lucas County Service

Posted on February 10, 2020

by Library News

Just over five decades ago, the Toledo Lucas County Public Library landscape looked quite a bit different. In fact, there was no unified Toledo Lucas County Public Library system.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a merger unifying the Lucas County, Toledo and Sylvania library systems. Area library service operated under three separate boards at the time. This occurred as taxes were collected countywide, and each system was required to serve everyone in the county.

A proposed merger was in the works for at least nine years. Lucas County Prosecutor Harry Friberg in 1961 raised the idea in a letter to the county library board. The county library was considered a “free library” as established by a Carnegie Institute grant. The Toledo and Sylvania libraries were classified as libraries corresponding to their school districts.

An outside consulting firm in 1969 strongly endorsed the merger, according to an article at the time in The Blade. The study found consolidation optimizes existing facilities and personnel at relatively little cost. A merger also clarifies county library boundaries that overlap with school districts. Most importantly, it bolsters collections for customers without duplication.

“In the long run, a single library system would be able to achieve more for each dollar of support than would two or three independent libraries sharing the same dollar,” the report authors wrote.

County commissioners and the individual systems approved the merger. They officially combined assets in January, 1970.

Here and Now

The Library has grown by leaps and bounds in the ensuing decades. The system encompasses 20 locations spread across Lucas County. Total item circulation, including downloadable titles, exceeded five million last year. Surveys show libraries nationwide are more popular than movie theaters and live sporting events combined.

There is so much to learn, experience and enjoy at the Library. It is a system unified in its service for you.

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