Locke Library Life in the 1920’s

Posted on February 27, 2019

by Angela B

Locke Branch Library staff found an old stash of annual reports dating all the way back to when the library first opened over 100 years ago in 1917. They were so interesting we decided to highlight them in a series of blog posts.

Now let’s examine the 1919-1929 reports to give us a look into the past.

Could you imagine a librarian knocking on your door for overdue books? Well, in the 1926 report, this is exactly what happened. Maybe this is why the angry librarian stereotype still persists!

1926: Home visits from the Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio

I would also like to mention that Locke Library still has that painting of the East Side’s first citizen, Peter Navarre.

Presentation of a Peter Navarre portrait at the Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio.
Photo credit: “Presentation of portrait – Peter Navarre, pioneer oil painting S.H. Phillips reproduction.” Black and white photograph includes George Scheets, Mrs. Charles Stephens, George Pearson and Carl Vitz.

You have probably heard of this one already, but seeing it is still shocking! Locke’s 1921 Annual Report notes of a female librarian leaving her profession to get married. And, there are other occurrences of this happening in following reports.

1921 - Librarian leaving profession to get married

What do you think when you read “Books burned by Health Officer?” After a bit of research, it was uncovered that library patrons with health conditions had their library items burned to control the disease. This was logged in Locke’s 1920 Annual Report and various others. (“Burn Books to Stop Disease. Board of Health Acts to Prevent More Diphtheria at the Lincoln School” Idaho Statesman 14 Dec. 1907: 5. Print.)

1920 health inspector Locke Branch Library - Toledo, Ohio

In 2018, a Read for Literacy tutor met with English language learners at Locke Library. The snippet below shows how 1926 parallels 2018 quite nicely with a family using the library to develop their English language skills.

1926 - ESL story from Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio.

With the Do-It-Yourself trend growing, it is interesting to see how history repeats itself. The 1926 Annual Report also records how a patron used library resources to construct their own house. The Library still has landscaping, carpentry, wiring and plumbing books for you to check-out today!

1926 - Example of an ambitious DIY project made possible with the help of the Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio

Would you pay a few pennies extra to rent popular books ahead of everyone else? Well, at the Locke Branch Library this is what happened in 1924, which is also documented in the Toledo Library Board Report.

1926 - Patrons pay to rent books at the Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio

Then, in 1925, the prices were adjusted.

1925 - Patrons pay Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio

And finally, some of the more discouraging comments that shows up in the reports year after year, is that Locke’s furniture is breaking, the lighting is dim, and the paint is peeling off the walls. Perhaps coming out of World War I and into the Great Depression made for a tight budget.


1924 - Branch needs - Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio


1925 - Branch needs - Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio


1928 - Branch needs - Locke Branch Library in Toledo, Ohio

Reading this makes me appreciate how fortunate we are to currently have such great support for the Toledo Lucas County Public Libraries!

If you enjoyed this post, be on the lookout for the next post, Locke Library Life in the 1930s.

Suggested Reading

Local History

The Streets of Toledo : a pictorial history : 1920s - 1970s / Bob Clark, Mike Childers, Tom Shaw, Larry Michaels ; layout and design: Sara E. Welborn
Information revolution : the history of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library 1838-2001 / by David M. Noel ; [indexed by Jim Marshall]
Toledo : the 20th century / Barbara L. Floyd
Peter Navarre : War of 1812 scout: the man behind the legend / Larry Michaels & Robyn Hage

1920s History

1920s / [Milan Bobek, editor]
The 1920s / Erica Hanson
1920 : the year that made the decade roar / Eric Burns
Daily life in the United States, 1920-1940 : how Americans lived through the "Roaring Twenties" and the Great Depression / David E. Kyvig

Featured Image Credit: “Locke Branch Library,” courtesy of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, obtained from Images in Time.

Blog post by Ann Hurley (Local History) and Angela Bronson (Locke Branch Library).

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