By James Hill, library director
[originally published in the Chillicothe Gazette, September 6, 2020]
Last week I participated in an online conference, Collaboration Counts, hosted by the Ohio School Boards Association. I sat on a panel with Huntington School’s Superintendent Pete Ruby to discuss “Sharing and Trading Spaces.” As you know, Chillicothe & Ross County Public Library (CRCPL) has three locations inside school buildings: Huntington High School, Buckskin Elementary in South Salem, and Mt. Logan in Chillicothe.
Like a lot of public libraries, CRCPL has a long history of collaborating with schools. The Chillicothe Library was organized in 1866 when three smaller collections were consolidated and housed in the Central School at the corner of Paint and 6th Streets. In 1874 it moved briefly to the Court House, then the City Building, where it stayed until the current Carnegie building was built in 1906 on land donated by the school district, next to Central School. Full circle.
The South Salem Library opened upstairs in the old South Salem Academy in November 1914. The Academy had closed in 1907 and the building was a de facto community center for many years. When the Buckskin Elementary building was renovated in 2000, it included space to house the school library and a public library. That relationship continues to this day.
In 1987, the Richmond Dale library was built near the Scioto School District Intermediate School on property sold to CRCPL for $1. Also in 1987, the Howard S. Young library in Frankfort opened in the house bequeathed by that former school superintendent. At various times, the Kingston library was housed inside Kingston school buildings.
Starting in the mid-20th Century, before the libraries consolidated, Chillicothe Public Library (CPL) and the Ross County Library District (RCLD) served several schools in the area. In 1952, RCLD had deposit collections inside the Clarksburg and Southeastern high schools. In 1957, CPL reported collections in Worthington, Mt. Logan, Tiffin and Western schools. By 1962, McArthur, Allen, and Massie schools had libraries supported by CPL.
With a blurring of legal liabilities concerning employment and worker’s compensation claims, CRCPL quit providing direct library service to the area schools at the end of 1987. However, library/school collaborations continue to be vital to the missions of both institutions. We share common civic goals, serve common populations, and face similar funding challenges. Our partnerships benefit everyone.
Mt. Logan Library.
In 2014, CRCPL began sharing the Huntington High School library by providing materials, computers, and programs. Last year, that space was renovated and is now a full-fledged county branch. Mt. Logan has a similar background. When CRCPL started sharing a corner of the school library, it was with the knowledge that new city schools were being built. We were able to renovate and expand that space last year, too. Along with the Hopewell Clinic and offices of other nonprofits, the Mt. Logan location has quickly become a community center providing essential services to the east side of town. Full circle.
As the new school year starts, all three of our school locations will again be open to the public beginning on Tuesday, September 8. Hours vary, but can be found on our website (CRCPL.org) or by calling 740-702-4145.