Our building's history

This past August marked the one year anniversary of the completion of an historic renovation of the original 1939 Wright Library building. We’d like to share with the community the rest of the building’s story.

 

Growing with Oakwood

restored front reading room Eighty years ago, community leaders had the foresight to strengthen the community with a new library building located in the heart of Oakwood, and Orville Wright, who served on the Library’s Board of Trustees, personally underwrote the campaign to pass a bond issue to support it. With its Tudor architecture, stained glass windows, and original wood shelving, Wright Library is a registered historic landmark and a reminder that Oakwood is steeped in history and tradition, as well as a unique place to live and learn.

As the Oakwood community grew over time, so did Wright Library. Additions to the original 1939 library building were constructed in 1964, 1972, and 1983 to meet the growing needs of the community. These additions provided more space for collections, a children’s area, and a community room for large library programs and group meeting space. The last major library renovation was in 1991, when the audiovisual room was added, with a lower level circulation desk and rear entrance for the public. Paint, new carpet and bookshelf endcaps were also added.

 

Enduring state funding cuts

In 2008, Ohio libraries were hit hard with large decreases in state funding caused by the recession. Wright Library’s state funding was cut by more than $250,000 from 2008 to 2009, which caused a reduction in staffing and operating hours. In Oakwood, voters responded by passing a small 0.5 mill library operating levy in 2009. While the levy only partially offset the state funding loss, the library focused its resources on services, collections, and programs that directly benefit its patrons, and operating hours were finally fully able to be restored in 2014. Facility needs were put on the back burner with only essential repairs and maintenance being addressed. Although Ohio’s economy eventually rebounded, the state library funding was never restored and Wright Library has continued to operate to this day with less revenue than in the years before the recession.

In 2016, the library board and administration felt it was time to address building needs and sought a bond issue to provide a full renovation of the library, including a small expansion. Following the bond issue’s narrow failure to secure a majority of the community’s support, the library did not return to the ballot but instead undertook a months-long communications and research process to engage and listen deeply to Oakwood residents and identify the community’s priorities for their library. Those priorities included: continue to offer great materials and programs, make resources more accessible to the disabled and elderly, focus on early literacy, offer tech instruction, preserve the building’s historic architecture, scale back building plans, and seek private funds to help reduce facility costs.

 

Listening to our community

Taking the community’s input to heart, by 2017, the library successfully raised nearly half a million dollars in private donations and grants – including $250,000  from the Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation -- to complete a historic restoration and renovation project of the 1939 portion of the building.

Library's current floor plan
 
The project restored the historic reading rooms, added meeting space that allows for technology classes, reduced operating costs with energy-efficient lighting, and improved usability of the space. In all, about 3,500 square feet, or about 17% of the building was renovated. The community response has been overwhelmingly positive, and residents have expressed renewed pride in this historic gem. 

While the historic part of the building received a much-needed facelift in 2018 and makes a great first impression when coming through the front door, infrastructure issues for the remainder of the building still need to be addressed and have grown with time. Learn about our Facility Needs.

 

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