The Gnadenhutten Public Library was organized by Gnadenhutten-Clay Township school officials in July, 1934 and was housed in one room of the grade school building; it contained approximately 500 books donated by the citizens of Gnadenhutten, surrounding communities, and donations from other established libraries in the county. The school board provided the room, heat, light and furnished book cases. In November, 1934 there were 221 registered patrons. Eventually, this school room had to be vacated and the library was moved to two large rooms in the F.C.Winsch home in July, 1936 located at the corner of W. Main and S. Walnut Streets.
The present library building formerly housed the Gnadenhutten Building and Loan. Mr. D.V. Heck donated the building to the town for a library. It was formally opened to the public on November 1, 1942. In his presentation of the building Mr. Heck said:
I am indebted to this school district for my high school education which I received in the old building almost directly across this street and in gratitude and appreciation for the benefits I have received, I wish to give this building to be a means of education for years to come, that in this building may be found the truth for which future generations will seek.
In 1973 the size of the collection of books required expanding into the lower level of the facility. Funding for this expansion was made possible through revenue sharing grants, and donations from businesses. On August 16, 1973, an open house was held to open this area to the public.
In 1994, the expansion project at the rear of the building doubled the available floor space to about 4500 square feet and provided a chair lift for easier accessibility. The projected cost of this expansion exceeded $276,000. Architect and project coordinator was Jack Harden, of Harden, Reid and Jahnes of Newark.
The library automated the materials collection, increased the hours of operation and the number of library staff in 1997. In addition to the traditional library services, patrons now enjoy remote (outside the library’s walls) access to many of the library’s resources, inter-library loans from any library in Ohio delivered to our facility, Internal Revenue Service, voter registration forms, Golden Buckeye cards, Ohio Kids Cards, photocopy, fax, laminating, and homebound services as well as children, teen, and adult programming opportunities.
With the speed at which new technologies develop, predictions on how the library will change in the coming years seem to be a futile effort but planning for the future is a constant and we must remain flexible, financially responsible and focus on those services that will best serve our community.
The determination and resourcefulness of the library staff and many community leaders have contributed to the present-day library organization that we enjoy today. May we continue to respect this heritage and offer our best efforts to improve library services to the community in the future.