SYCAMORE – It started with a dream, a few citizens and 285 books; now, come May 17, the Mohawk Community Library is to turn 75. The library staff is to host a week-long celebration beginning Monday through May 10.
Monday, the celebration begins with a free popcorn day. Other events during the week are to include an all-day chocolate fountain and craft day; a birthday party family fun night; birthday cake all day Thursday; and a book sale May 10-11.
The library first opened in June 1938 in a small, upstairs room on Main Street in Sycamore. Then, the library’s board members did all the work – from cataloging to building shelves to acting as librarians.
The library was only open Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Operating funds for the first seven months were $170, all from donations. The library signed a yearly contract to become a branch of the Upper Sandusky Library. In 1947, the Sycamore Community Library, named the Mohawk Community Library in 1986, became an independent Sycamore School District Library, according to information provided by the library.
The library since has gotten larger in size, circulation and visitors, according to Joe Weininger, vice president of the library’s board of trustees.
The library, at 200 S. Sycamore Ave., is the “key point of the community,” Weininger said.
Circulation for 2012 was 174,169 items checked out, with 11,258 DVDs, 6,093 CDs and 32,722 books comprising that total.
The library also has added several programs. For example, the library offers adult and children reading programs, discussion groups, after-school programs, family fun nights, movie nights, computer classes, and arts and crafts, said library Director Susan Runion.
“The library is more than just books,” Runion said. “We focus on all age groups, including the difficult-to-reach ages between sixth and ninth grades.”
Several additions, moves and expansions have changed the facade of library through the years.
According to library information, the library moved from Main Street to a room downstairs on West Seventh Street in 1951. In 1958, the library was given a lot at 101 E. Seventh St., and a new building followed in 1960. Houses surrounding the building were razed for space in 1974 and again 10 years later. The last expansion was done in 1998, doubling the size of the building.
The library also joined SEO Consortium in 2000, connecting the library to other facilities in the system.
The library is set to expand again over the next couple of years, Weininger said.
The library was awarded $10,000 from the Tiffin Charitable Foundation from the White Family Charitable Fund in February for a Special Edition II construction project, which is to add 2,360 square feet for a meeting and programming room.
Tables, chairs, a refreshment area, a projector and retractable screen, along with additional restrooms, are part of the additions.
The project is to cost about $300,000. Additional funds were provided through donations and a grant from The Andersons. Bids are to be taken by the end of May or early June.
“This library is a shining part of our community,” Weininger said. “Mohawk is proud of this library.”
The library employs 11 people, with Runion as the only full-timer. The library has three librarians: Ginny Tuttle, in cataloging; LeAnne Lehnhart, in adult programming; and Christina Riedel, in youth programming.
Weininger, who has been on the library board nearly 20 years, said one of his favorite memories is the street fair the library hosts at the end of the summer reading program.
“There is something about watching a grandmother and her grandchild playing cornhole and sharing in family time. It brings a community together,” he said.
Board member Mickey Ekleberry, who has served 15-20 years, said she came to the library as a child and now her children do as well.
“We are our best patrons,” Runion said. “As a little kid, I used to walk to the library, and my love of books has carried over to my kids. This is the best job that anyone can have.”
For a list of events at the library, visit www.mohawkcl.org or call (419) 927-2407.