History of WCDPL

History of WCDPL

WCDPL plays a vital role in the community. From the first subscription library founded in 1875, to the leadership of the women of the Shakespeare Round Table which revived the library movement in 1911, to the passage of an 0.8 mil operating levy in the fall of 2010, the citizens of Bowling Green and Wood County have vigorously supported their library. In 1969, the library became a County District Library.

The main library building, located in the heart of downtown Bowling Green, was built in 1974 and extensively renovated in 2003. The Walbridge Branch Library opened in 1987 and underwent a complete renovation in 2017. In addition to these two branches, WCDPL has offered bookmobile services to the county since 1951. 

1875 — 1928: Early beginnings and the Shakespeare Round Table

  • 1875 January 21: Local men's group organizes the Bowling Green Library Association with 76 paid subscribers. Lucius Boughton is appointed first Librarian.
  • 1881: Mrs. Addison Fay appointed Head Librarian
  • 1911: Shakespeare Round Table (chaired by Mrs. Grace Haylor) begins work creating the first free public library by giving teas and holding bake sales
  • 1914: Mrs. Grace Haylor becomes the first Head Librarian (an unpaid position) of the new library, which is housed in the rear of the Exchange Bank building.
  • 1928: Library becomes a School District Public Library and moves to new high school building at W. Wooster Street

1940 – 1969: Growth and Expansion

  • 1949: Miss Helen Munsel becomes Head Librarian
  • 1949: Bradner Branch Library opens
  • 1951: Bookmobile Service begins
  • 1956: Library moves to Church Street building
  • 1966: Great Eastern Branch Library opens
  • 1968: Miss Marian Parker becomes Head Librarian
  • 1969: Library becomes the Wood County District Public Library

1970 – 1999: A New Home & New Technologies

  • 1973: Construction bids taken and work begins on a new library building on Main Street
  • 1974: New Main Street building opens
  • 1983: First computerized card catalogue and automated checkout system implemented
  • 1987: Great Eastern Branch Library closes
  • 1987: Walbridge Branch Library opens
  • 1987: Elaine Paulette becomes Library Director
  • 1994: Wood County Library Foundation (501c3) created
  • 1996: First public internet computers installed (tech lab created the following year)

2000 – Today: The Library Moves into the 21st Century

  • 2001: Capital campaign to raise money for library renovation begins ($725,000 goal with $800,000 raised)
  • 2001: 25-year bond issue passed to raise $5 million for renovation/expansion of main library branch
  • 2001: Library joins the SEO Consortium (Serving Every Ohioan)
  • 2002: Library’s main branch makes temporary move to 1141 S. Main (formerly Churchill’s Grocery) to complete renovation of Main Street building
  • 2003: Bradner Branch Library closes
  • 2003: Main Street building reopens after renovation
  • 2003: First Community Reads program launched with Rocket Boys and visit from author, Homer Hickam
  • 2006: Library acquires Carter House building
  • 2007: Walbridge Branch Library renovated 
  • 2010: New "green" bookmobile put into service (funded by $95,000 LSTA grant and $100,000 from Library Foundation)
  • 2010: For the first time in its 135-year history, WCDPL seeks local operating funds (8 mill, 5-year levy, bringing in approximately $1 million/year) to offset losses in state funding. Voters pass the levy and vote to renew it again in 2014 and 2020.
  • 2011: Michael Penrod becomes Library Director
  • 2013: Carter House restoration completed and opens for public use
  • 2016 – 2017: Walbridge Branch Library expansion and renovation completed
  • 2019: Foundation Speaker Series debuts