The Findlay-Hancock County Public Library was established on April 16, 1888 by an act of the Ohio General Assembly and opened its doors to the public on January 27, 1890 in a basement room of the Hancock County Courthouse.
The Early Years
In the early 1900's Andrew Carnegie began his philanthropic efforts to construct public libraries by providing money to communities across the country. In 1906, he offered $3,500 per year for maintenance. Unfortunately, (for long forgotten reasons), this opportunity was allowed to slip away. Over 13 years later, a library representative contacted Mr. Carnegie, only months before his death, but by that time he was no longer funding library construction.
In 1935, the Findlay Public Library moved from the Courthouse basement into the old Post Office building on Broadway. Built in 1906, the building was purchased from the federal government for $50,000. Also in 1935, Ohio libraries began receiving state funding from the intangibles tax.
In the 1950's the Findlay Public Library began providing a delivery service that was the beginning of what is now the Bookmobile. Many different vehicles have served the library over the years.
By the mid '60's the need for a new library building was apparent, as stated in a 1964 report issued by the Hancock Regional Planning Commission. In 1970, a library-financed study considered eight locations and recommended the Phoenix Hotel. In 1971, under the leadership of a new director, the library hired an architect.
In 1973, the library was officially sanctioned by the state as a county district library and changed its name to the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library (FHCPL). Also in that year, early steps were taken toward computerization when the library joined the Ohio College Library Center (OCLC).
During this period, a change in directorship delayed any construction ideas and eventually the idea of a new library in a new location died. In 1978, however, under the new director, George W. Stanbery, the library constructed an addition.
June 14, 1981 Flood
The library lost 13,000 children’s books and $50,000 in equipment and furnishings in the Children's Room after a flood hit Findlay.
In 1985 Hancock County's first full-service branch library was opened in Arlington as the library entered its 50th year of extension service. During 1986 and 1987 under the auspices of a grant of nearly $20,000 from the Cleveland Foundation's L. Dale. Dorney Fund, FHCPL commissioned a study to evaluate its facilities and services and create a comprehensive long-range plan. The study's areas of emphasis were: 1) renovation and expansion of the main library; 2) automation of library operations; 3) bookmobile service; and 4) the feasibility of establishing Sunday hours.
Four Apple 2+ terminals were purchased for public use and the first computer lab installed was in the basement.
Automation progressed with the purchase of the Dynix system in late 1988. Registration for new bar coded library cards began almost immediately. Computer equipment was installed in early 1989 and in September of that year FHCPL went on-line with a computerized catalog for both staff and public use, as well as an automated check-out system. Another small Dorney Fund grant paid for programs to educate the public in the use of the new system. A new computer lab opened for the public in the new building with 9 PCs for public use.
Based upon survey data, it was determined that the library should remain in its present downtown location but due to the expense of renovation, only the 1978 addition should be retained in the final structure. Bonds were issued through an innovative lease-purchase agreement with Hancock County--one of the first of its kind for a county district library in Ohio. The ground breaking for what came to be known as Phase I took place in July 1989.
In January of 1990, the month which marked the library's 100th anniversary of public service, FHCPL was finally able to purchase its first "real" bookmobile. The bookmobile currently serves eight county locations on a weekly basis: Arcadia, Benton Ridge, Jenera, Mt. Blanchard, Mt. Cory, Rawson, Van Buren and Vanlue.
Phase I of the newly renovated main library was partially finished in July of 1990, but not fully occupied and opened to the public until October. Construction of Phase II commenced that same month. Phase II was initially occupied in July of 1991 and completely furnished by August. The complete building features all public services on one level, full accessibility for handicapped individuals, a community room, bookmobile garage and covered parking for the public. The completed new library facility was dedicated October 6, 1991. Sunday hours began on October 6, 1991.
January 3, 1991
The library lost all of the carpeting in the lower level. Three inches of sewer water flowed through the lower level. No books were lost.
The Dynix library software has a major upgrade, and new equipment was installed.
June 12, 1997
The library lost all carpeting in the basement due to sewer water flowing through the lower level. Carpet was replaced in the Administration Office. Tile was placed in the hallway and break room. Category 5 wiring was installed throughout the building for NT network of ten Office PCs.
The card catalog was added to the website and automated phone notice capability was installed.
August 22, 2007
A 100-year flood hits Hancock County. Lost entire basement: Administration, Technical Services, Book Cellar, Adult Services Offices, and Maintenance. All services were lost: phones, internet, boiler, electric, HVAC, etc.
March 15, 2008
Mitigation: Began the rebuild of the basement and Community Room.
January 11, 2009
The Library Board of Trustees hosted a Grand Re-Opening of the Main Library.
Library Directors of the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library
Nellie Baker 1888-1902
Mary Belle Morrison 1902-1939
Catherine L. Achord 1939-1971
G.W. Stanberry 1974-1984
Alice Bakies and Mary Morrison (Co-Interim) 1984
Luren Dickinson 1985-1996
Mary Morrison (Interim) 1996
Sybil Galer 1997-2007
Carol Dunn (Interim) 2007-2008
Jeff Winkle 2009-2020
Sarah Clevidence 2020-Present
125th Anniversary Celebration. January 27, 2015
The library was recognized in many ways on Tuesday, January 27 at the 125th anniversary celebration. The honors include:
• January 27 was officially designated Findlay-Hancock County Public Library Day by the Mayor and the County Commissioners.
• The library received a flag flown over the U.S. Capital from Congressman Robert Latta.
• The library was officially commended by both the State Senate and the State House of Representatives.
Jeff Winkle, Director, spoke at a reception and was quoted as saying "We never take for granted how blessed we are to work in a county-wide community that values reading. Findlay and Hancock County people are special. Our friends and neighbors believe in reading, education, family, and hard work. The library is proud to support those attributes every day. On behalf of the administration and staff I thank the community for supporting the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library."
Library closes temporarily because of COVID-19. March 14, 2020
Within two days of closing, the library issues digital library cards to keep patrons connected to library material and a virtual reference desk to remain available to assist patrons with questions. Many new services are launched such as virtual programming, curbside service, and virtual SummerREAD. The library remained closed for 93 days until reopening on June 15 with limited hours.