The creation of the Auglaize County Public District Library System began with a donation of land adjacent to the Blume High School and $50,000 from the estate of Mr. Lewis Napoleon Blume (L.N. Blume), a Wapakoneta businessman and banker. Through Mr. Blume’s generosity, a three-story building was erected next to the Blume High School. The first floor of the building was for the high school gymnasium, the second floor was for the public library, and the third floor was for a YMCA.
The first library board meeting took place on March 18, 1924. The founding board members were Dr. C.C. Berlin, Mr. C.C. Nardin, Mrs. A.M. Getz, Mr. G.A. Wintzer, Ms. Thecla Stueve, Mrs. Jacob Koening, and Ms. Katherine Kohler. In June 1925, the first librarian was hired, Mildred Mercier, at a starting salary of $1000 annually with one month paid vacation. The Blume Memorial Public Library opened its doors to the public on November 7, 1925 with 1658 books ready for circulation. Library operating hours were set at 1:00 to 5:00 every afternoon except Sunday and also Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:30. By the end of December 1925, the library had 836 registered borrowers and 2183 volumes on the shelves. Due to the increased workload, Ms. Mercier was permitted to hire an apprentice at the rate of $.15 per hour. Along with the added help, there were also changes made to increase library hours. Effective October 1, 1926, the library was opened Monday through Thursday from 10:00-8:00 and opened Friday and Saturday from 10:00-6:00. Those hours are very similar to the library operating hours today.
In 1927, Miss Emma Mahlenher, principle of the second ward school, made a request to borrow twenty books from the library for usage in her building. Her request was denied because the Board felt the library’s collection was not large enough to accommodate this request. Concerned over the size of their collection, the Board went as far as adopting a policy which limited patrons to one book per library card, unless the item was needed for special work, school, club, or otherwise. However, rural adult patrons were exempt from this policy. This policy does not exist today.
On September 24, 1930, Story Hour on Saturday mornings was implemented. By 1933, plans for the YMCA had not materialized and the library became occupants of the third floor with the expansion of the children’s section.
Blume Memorial Public Library began expanding its services throughout the county by establishing book stations in 1938. Book collections were placed at each station for a period of two weeks then the books would be rotated to another site. Book stations were set up in St. Johns, New Hampshire, Waynesfield, Uniopolis, Moulton, New Knoxville, New Bremen, Minster, Buckland, and Cridersville. It was not long before branch libraries were established in some of these same communities. New Knoxville Community Library was the first branch library. It opened in 1940 and was located at the school. This was followed by The New Bremen Public Library branch which opened in 1954 at the Arcade. In 1963, the Francis J. Stallo Library branch in Minster was established in the basement of the Minster State Bank building. The Waynesfield Public Library branch opened in 1972. And the final branch, the Cridersville public library was established in 1981.
Although the library began receiving support from the intangibles tax in 1935, it did not have financial control in how the income was used. Because Blume Memorial Public Library was designated as a School District Library, the School Board was in control of its funding. The Library Trustees could only propose ideas for the School Board to consider. After numerous years of tumultuous financial wrangling with the School Board and oversights by the office of the County Auditor, Library Trustees enlisted the help of Ms. Sandoe of the State Library to assist Blume Memorial Public Library change from a School District Library System to a County Library System. In 1964, Blume Memorial Public Library became a County Library System and new board members were appointed to represent the entire county area.
In their efforts to continually improve library services to county residents, the library purchased their first bookmobile in 1952 and had designated stops around the county during the summer. In 1990, Outreach services were implemented and the bookmobile was used to provide these services. The library purchased the third bookmobile named the "County Explorer" in 1994. Due to decline in use, the bookmobile was sold on April 11, 2012.
Since the Auglaize County Public District Library’s initial establishment, changes in location and services have taken place in an effort to better serve the Auglaize County communities. The changes include:
The current Auglaize County Public District Library building located in Wapakoneta was opened to the public on March 28, 1968. The cost to build the current building was $310,000. Constructed began in March of 1967 and was completed in March of 1968. This location was selected because it was near the center of town activity. Changing the library’s location from the Blume High School building to the library’s current site was made with ease due to volunteers from the Wapakoneta Jaycees assistance in moving 50,000 volumes.
The current location of the New Bremen Public Library was opened to the public on 1973. The New Bremen Public Library was made possible through support and generous donations from the village, Friends of the Library, businesses, and community members. The Village of New Bremen erected the building for the sole purpose of housing a branch public library. In 1990, the library expanded and doubled in size to meet the needs of the growing community.
When the New Knoxville Community Library separated from the school library, it moved to across the street to the Brookside Laboratories Incorporated building. Then the library moved next door to its current site in 1985. This building was shared with offices of the New Knoxville Telephone Company. The library expanded in 1988 when the New Knoxville Telephone Company vacated the building.
The Francis J. Stallo Memorial Library (named after the founder of the Minster community) moved to its present location, Kramer Building, in 1976. The library occupies the east side of the building. The Kramer building was built in 1912 and gives the library much of its character today. In 2003, a library renovation project which doubled the size of the Stallo library was completed. This project was funded by the library and very generous donations from the Minster community.
The Edward and Minnie White Memorial Library located in Waynesfield was opened to the public in 1998. This library was made possible when Mrs. White passed away in 1995 and left $900,000 to the St. Marys Community Foundation with specific instructions that the funds be used to build a library in the memory of her and her late husband, who passed away in 1987. Previously, the Waynesfield branch had been located in various older buildings in town. As recent as 1994, the library was in danger of closing unless new and better facilities were located. In 2003, th library acquired the property adjacent to the library and made the necessary improvements to turn the area into much needed greenspace.
The current Cridersville Public Library opened its doors to the public in October 1999. The Village of Cridersville worked very hard in conjunction with the Auglaize County Public District Library and donations of time and funding by Cridersville residents to make the this new library a reality. The beautiful new facility, built as an addition to the existing Village Hall, provides space for an activity room, a basement for storage, and an office for library staff members.
75 years ago, Blume Memorial Public Library offered library patrons books and newspapers. Today, patrons of the ACPDL System have access to books, newspapers, periodicals, Internet connections, and personal computers. Some of the services that ACPDL offers include interlibrary loan, outreach services items, storytimes for children, summer reading programs, and adult book discussion groups. ACPDL has evolved dramatically in the last 75 years and changes in the library system will continue to take place as the communities they serve continue to evolve.