About Lakewood Public Library
Lakewood Public Library first opened its doors on May 19, 1916 with only 10,000 books to offer the burgeoning streetcar community that built it. But as the city grew, so did the Library, adding thousands of volumes of science, art, history, law and literature every year to serve the needs of the knowledge seekers who flocked to Lakewood from all over the region. A branch library on Madison Avenue was established in 1924 in order to serve the city’s growing immigrant population and to put these resources within walking distance of every Lakewoodite. As the city grew, the Library grew with it. A close look at Main Library today reveals that the original architecture has long since given way, unable to contain the explosive ambitions of a vibrant community. The little Carnegie Library on Detroit, founded by early Lakewood residents as an investment in the future, was the seed of our success.
That tradition of excellence continues to this day as Lakewood Public Library is consistently ranked among the best libraries in the nation, competing with large institutions far outside its weight class, while proudly remaining a local library. With a collection founded on essential knowledge and shaped by the interests of our robust population, a walk through the stacks reveals a grand Lakewood conversation taking place between generations, backgrounds and worldviews. The works of local authors, artists, scholars, historians, filmmakers and musicians line the shelves. A vast collection of materials for children and teens demonstrates our commitment to the encouragement of young people in all their intellectual endeavors. Access to online practice tests, rooms full of computers and pioneering work in the distribution of eBooks and other digital materials hint at the future to come and our commitment to being a part of it.
The Library, however, is more than just a collection of materials. Lakewood Public Library has earned its place in the community through the services it offers. A childhood filled with Library programs can take a child from pre-literacy story time to after school Homework Help to college preparation with plenty of fun and adventure in between. Concerts, films, lectures and classes bring the community together and get people talking. We offer free test proctoring to students and provide deliveries to Lakewood teachers to help stimulate their classrooms. Homebound deliveries allow those who are unable to reach our facilities to remain a valued part of the community conversation. And our commitment to the Interlibrary Loan program means that, in addition to the thousands of volumes physically warehoused in our buildings, our patrons have access to virtually every book in the world.
The Library’s rich history has been chronicled by its architect, Edward L. Tilton, as well as by various students pursuing their masters’ degrees in library science. Explore the Library’s history through the articles and papers reproduced below.
The Art and Architecture of Lakewood Public Library by James Crawford The history of the art and architecture of Lakewood Public Library’s Main Library and Madison Branch from the Main Library’s opening in May, 1916 to the completed renovation of the Madison Branch in March, 2022.
Library Planning by Edward L. Tilton in The Architectural Forum (December 1927). Edward L. Tilton, architect of the Lakewood Public Library’s original Carnegie home, literally wrote the book on designing libraries, having designed over one hundred of them himself. The original version of his Essentials in Library Planning, still relevant today, appeared as an article in The Architectural Forum and is available here in electronic format.
A History of Lakewood Public Library by Martha J. Hamilton (1954). Hamilton’s student thesis recounts the decisions that defined the Library’s first three leaders and examines the challenges facing the fourth.
The Development and Growth of the Lakewood Public Library by June Conrad (1956). Conrad considers the role of the Library as a social agency and examines services provided at the Main Library and at the Madison Branch.
A History of Young People’s Work at Lakewood Public Library by Shirley Schneider (1957). Schneider’s account of Lakewood Public Library focuses on the Library’s services for children as well as the Library’s relationship with local schools.
History of the Lakewood Public Library, Lakewood, Ohio: the First Twenty-Five Years, 1913-1938 by Mary Martha Reed (1958). While pursuing her master’s degree in library science, Mary Martha Reed wrote this intriguing profile of Lakewood Public Library’s original head librarian, Roena Ingham.
History of the Lakewood Public Library, Lakewood, Ohio 1938-1960 by Beverly Anne Jones (1961). Jones’ thesis serves as a sequel to Reed’s definitive look at the Library’s first head librarian and focuses on the Library’s efforts to find its way in the wake of Roena Ingham’s death.
Lakewood College Club’s Forty Years 1926-1966 by Margaret Manor Butler (1966). Author of the popular Lakewood book “Romance in Lakewood Streets,” Margaret Manor Butler celebrates Lakewood College Club’s fortieth anniversary with this account of the Club’s history.
Lakewood Sun Post Supplement (1966). Entitled “Lakewood Public Library Moves Forward,” this special supplement to the Lakewood Sun Post highlights Lakewood Public Library’s first fifty years and contains many photographs of the Library and its patrons.
Reed Thomason Mural Characters (1979, re-collected 2017). In 1978, Cleveland resident and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Reed Thomason painted a stunning sixty foot mural for the Library’s Children’s Room. This article showcases the characters from classical and children’s literature which are depicted in Thomason’s exquisite painting.
Moulders of Community Service: The Directors of Lakewood Public Library, 1916-1976 by Carol S. Jacobs (1989). Jacobs’ student history offers the most comprehensive scholarly look at the history of the library to date and also paints a compelling portrait of the city of Lakewood, Ohio.
Edward Lippincott Tilton: A Monograph on His Architectural Practice by Lisa B. Mausolf with Elizabeth Durfee Hengen (2007). Written for the Currier Museum of Art, this short, scholarly article provides an overview of the life of Lakewood Public Library architect Edward L. Tilton. The monograph includes an excellent bibliography and numerous photos of the beautiful public libraries Tilton designed.
Library History Chronologies, Ephemera, and Notes (re-collected 2017). These notes, histories and ephemera chronicle the Library’s founding and evolution from 1916 to 2016.
Rules for the Governance of the Lakewood Public Library (re-collected 2017). Recollected in 2017, these papers show the rules for the governance of the Library. The date of the rules’ original promulgation is unknown.
Building by the Book (May 2008, re-collected 2019). John Elliott’s Properties Magazine article showcases the Main Library’s renovation and includes photographs by Robert Heine.
A Classic Goes Green (June 2008, re-collected 2019). Todd Williams’ Builders Exchange Magazine article highlights the Main Library’s sustainability.
Lakewood Brings Residents World-Class Services (2009, re-collected 2023). This Discover Lakewood Magazine article celebrates the Main Library renovation and expansion, and the Library’s commitment to offering the community world-class collections, services and programming.
Heavy Metal: Lakewood Has A New Landmark (2012, re-collected 2023). Read more about sculptor and industrial designer Peter Diepenbrock’s Transversion, Lakewood’s iconic sculpture.