The Dover Public Library is committed to being the center of community life in Dover, Ohio. It is our mission to support life-long learning by providing information and opportunities for personal enrichment and enjoyment to people of all ages and from all backgrounds in Dover and throughout the Tuscarawas Valley.
History of the Library
Ohio librarians are proud of the state’s “long history of literacy.” But Dover had to wait until 1902, and like many communities had to wait on an “angel” for financial help. It came from the American Sheet and Tin Plate Co. who wanted a library for its employees, and the general public.
It was located at the corner of Front and Factory Streets (Tuscarawas Avenue). It contained 2,000 books in charge of a Mr. and Mrs. Simpson, and included everything from “Six Thousand Years of History” to “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.” Modern day mystery fans will appreciate it also contained “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”
In 1907 the community of Dover took over, moved the library to the corner of Cherry and Fifth Streets, and the Simpson family remained custodians until 1914.
The new high school was built in 1916. The library building was dismantled and the library moved to the school basement. In 1923 came the state law requiring a community library board. Mrs. L.H. Alexander, Francis Briegal, Mrs. P.G. Justice, S.O. Mase, Mrs. Ella Seibel, Dr. K. Earl Shaweker, and Rev. J.E. Weinland, comprised the first board. The first librarian was Vivian McCarthy who served as a high school senior.
Mrs. Justice retired from the board in six months, assumed librarian’s duties and served “competently and devotedly” for 22 years.
In 1927 an “unfortunate impression” arose. A newspaper story reported that many Dover residents thought the basement library was a student library. But figures were released saying that circulation had increased 100 percent in four years and it was feared the library would soon outgrow its quarters.
In August 1934, The Daily Reporter headlined the fact that the library was opening in an “Elaborate New Home.” This was the former private home at 417 Walnut Street, which was to house close to 11,000 books. The “new” library was described as “commodious, with excellent natural lighting, serving its purpose well and conveniently accessible to both high school student and the general public.”
That building no longer exists. In 1953 funds for a new library were acquired with a bond issue and the present building opened its doors in 1955. Dan Cooley, a 1965 Dover High graduate, became library director in 1980 and retired in 2009. Jim Gill became the library director in January of 2010.
Excerpted with permission from an article by Ed DeGraw printed October 5, 1997.