Locke Library Life in the 1940’s

Posted on May 11, 2020

by Angela B

Locke Branch 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 include them in a series of blog posts.

Now let’s examine the 1940-1949’s reports to get a look into the past.

From 1942:

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! East Toledo, the location of Locke Branch, still holds an annual East Toledo Storybook Festival in late Spring. Librarians from Locke help plan and attend this celebration of books to continue this tradition.

Look for these children’s books from the 1940’s in our catalog:

Nowadays, you can receive good service from Library staff AND no late fines! In 2019, Toledo Lucas County Public Library went fine free, which is a big adjustment from the policy in 1945.

Things have come a long way since 1942! Our policy now would not allow for this to happen, unless there is a subpoena and approved by our executive director.

Back in 1947, Locke Branch had extremely popular story hours with reports showing 175-275 children attending per program. We may not get that many children in 2020, but we still have adults commenting on our high numbers of children after school, which can range from 50-80 kids daily.

The War:

In this bleak account of 1944, we see what life was during World War II in East Toledo.

After digging around for the Locke employee mentioned, I narrowed down the results and found William Knox Blair from Toledo, Ohio. I search for him on Ancestry.com (available for Toledo Library cardholders to use for free in our locations) and found his WWII Draft Card. He was a Lieutenant in the Navy and received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944 for heroism during an aerial attack over the Marianas Islands.

Photo from Ancestry.com

To read more about World War II veterans from Toledo, Ohio, visit Toledo’s Attic or the University of Toledo’s Veteran’s History Interviews

To think about how close the library was held to the soldiers’ hearts is incredibly touching. These snippets from 1944-1945 parallel with personal interactions I’ve had with today’s customers. A man once told me while in long-term hospital care, he couldn’t wait to come back to the library and thank the staff for our support. As soon as he could leave the hospital, he came straight to the branch to see us. Interactions like these adds to the many reasons why we love our jobs!

Many think to be a librarian is to sit and read in a quiet building, when actually it is more like this excerpt from 1944. Life as a librarian is based in empathy, making connections and serving others. Toledo Lucas County Public Library provides staff training on how to best meet the needs of our community, so we are ready each day to help everyone we encounter.

I can only imagine what life was like for these librarians after years of war. After celebrating the end of World War II in 1945, they hope for a busy and vibrant library again, but this will take many more years.


Locke Branch’s namesake, David Ross Locke, also known as Petroleum V. Nasby, knew Mark Twain. We have the picture to prove it!

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