SLO 200

Programs at the State Library and Beyond

A variety of programs have been offered by the State Library over the past two hundred years. Read on to find out more!

It could be said that the State Library began its programming for the citizens of Ohio with the Traveling Library in 1896.  This program continued until 1973 and may be considered the longest running program of the State Library.  Other than the Traveling Library, few programs were developed until the mid-fifties when the Library Services Act (LSC) was passed.  These additional funds were used by the State Library to develop programs as well as provide grant funds to public libraries to develop programs at the local level.   Bookmobile service was one of the first programs that both the State Library and local libraries established.  By the mid- sixties, 67 libraries in Ohio were operating bookmobile programs.

The oldest program still in existence is the children’s program. There has been a children’s consultant on the State Library’s staff consistently since the mid-1960s.  The consultant works with local library staff to develop collections and programs for children and young adults as well as advising on grant applications for federal funds to support new and innovative programs.  One of the largest children’s program has been the Children’s Summer Reading Program.   While larger metropolitan libraries were able to afford to carry out their own programs, the smaller and rural public libraries were not, and so the State Library began a coordinated effort to provide a theme, materials and publicity packets to those libraries.  Artists were commissioned to develop a series of work around the annual theme to be used with the programs.  The State Library received the John Cotton Dana award in 1988 for its program around Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.”  The summer reading program continues to facilitate free incentives for public libraries to share with their summer reading participants, such as Ohio State Fair coupons for readers 5-14 years of age and certificates for camping in Ohio State Parks from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

In 1964 the State Library Board continued supporting library services with funds from the new federal program for libraries, the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA).  This added the “C” for construction to the previous Library Services Act (LSA).  The federal funds became a large part of the services and programs of the State Library. Grants for both library programs and construction were made available.

A statewide LSCA funded project, BOOKS/JOBS became operative July 1, 1967. Over $370,000 was used to help Ohio public libraries reach and serve people who needed information skills to get and keep jobs. Libraries traditionally become very busy during difficult economic times.  The State Library has supported other programs helping with job skills and training over the years. Recently, State Library staff worked with Guiding Ohio Online project coordinators to arrange an OhioMeansJobs webinar presented by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for public libraries.

Programs were also developed in cooperation with other agencies to address the needs of Ohio citizens. In 1972 the Right to Read program was established with a national goal to ensure that ninety percent of all Americans would be able to read to the best of their abilities by 1980.

Another program with the Ohio Department of Education resulted in an Ohio American Revolution Bicentennial grant for a year-long Bicentennial reading program.  The “Spirit of ’76 Caravan” brought together more than 800 school and public children’s librarians for twelve day-long workshops to plan Bicentennial cooperative reading programs. By centering these on Ohio’s twelve Right to Read areas public libraries, school libraries, and multicounty cooperatives were able to coordinate with the ongoing reading improvement aims of the State Department of Education.

A program sponsored through the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) brought humanities scholars to libraries to lead book discussions, and Ohio received one of the first year grants.  Five books based around a single theme were read over a ten week period, with reading groups meeting with the humanities scholar for a discussion.  Sixteen libraries participated in the first year.  The themes developed by ALA included “Family”, “ Love”, “Children’s Literature,” and states were encouraged to develop their own themes.  Ohio created “Love,” and it was so successful that ALA included it in its packet for the following years.  The program lasted for several years and libraries continued to host the program with their own book choices, paying the scholars through their own budget.

A public awareness program for libraries,  ”Libraries: Learning for Life” held a rally at the State Capitol to raise public awareness of Ohio’s libraries in 1985.  Busloads and carloads of supporters of local libraries came to Columbus, and fourteen sponsoring organizations were involved.  The program was nationally recognized and received the John Cotton Dana Award from ALA for developing and implementing Ohio’s first statewide multimedia public relations campaign, and was so successful, the campaign was carried out for a second year.

The State Library has been Ohio’s distributor of talking books since 1981.  This program provides library services to Ohioans who are unable to read normal printed material as a result of physical limitations.  In 2009 transitioning began to replace the analog machines with digital book players. Together with the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, Cleveland; the State Library serves approximately 14,000 citizens.

When LSCA became LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) in 1998 it not only changed its focus to technology, it also changed to permit all types of libraries to receive grants.  It stressed the partnerships and collaborative efforts among different types of libraries. 

Ohio Memory is a collaborative project of the Ohio History Connection and the State Library. The project was established in 2003 by the Ohio History Connection as a state bicentennial project to build a searchable database of digital images celebrating Ohio’s history and provide access to the state’s historical treasures; in 2010, it was relaunched as a partner project between the two organizations.   More than 300,000 items from over 360 cultural collections have been brought together in the Ohio Memory database.

Ohio Ready to Read is another joint adventure for the State Library but this time with the Ohio Library Council.  The program educated Ohio’s families on the importance of early childhood literacy through resources and activities at Ohio’s public libraries.  Ohio Read to Read supports library-based activities that contribute to the reading readiness of 0-5 year olds and to the developing reading proficiency of K-3rd graders.  The ORTR website offers early literary resources to help establish community partnerships, reach out to families and caregivers and learn about early childhood development.

The Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) develops themes for teens and adults as well as children.  Resources provided to public libraries include custom theme artwork, and a manual of programming ideas.

Choose to Read Ohio (CTRO) partners, the State Library, Ohioana, and the Ohio Center for the Book, encourages Ohioans of all ages to choose to read a book by an Ohio author. The reading took place over a six-week period.  Resources and materials were provided for readers who came together.  Book lists of twenty titles are selected for two calendar years. Reading groups are held in classrooms, libraries, bookstores, community groups and families.

~ “Programs at the State Library and Beyond,” SLO 200, accessed June 23, 2018,
Boy with Book