The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County.
The Youngstown Public Library as it stand now.
The Youngstown Public Library as depicted by a postcard from the 1920s-1940s.
Backstory and Context
The Youngstown Public Library was constructed in 1909-1910 and designed by local architect Charles F Owsley; however, the roots of the Youngstown Library Association stretch back decades before. The Youngstown Library Association was founded on Oct. 27th, 1880, the group was led by the Superintendent of Schools, Reuben McMillan. The original Youngstown Public Library was located in the home of Richard and Henrietta Brown, who opened their doors in 1891; it was located on Market and Front street. The Youngstown Public Library, or as it was then known, the Reuben McMillan Free Library, stood on Market and Front Street until 1907. In 1907 Andrew Carnegie gifted the Library Association $50,000, that money combined with selling the original property, allowed the association to build a new library in 1909-1910, which still stands today.
The library has seen numerous changes since its construction in the early 20th century. The library was renovated in 1954 and from 1994 to 19996. This second renovation proved to be more expansive than the first; it added a new addition as well as remodeling the main building.
Prolific figures have been involved in the Youngstown Library since its inception including Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was an industrialist known for his harsh stance towards workers and organized labor, but he also used his fortune to support the construction of hundreds of public libraries throughout the late 19th, early 20th century. Similar to the Youngstown Public Library, these libraries were funded by a match of local funds and money from Andrew Carnegie and were often named in honor of Carnegie. This library, however, was unique as it was named in honor of Reuben McMillan, a leading figure within the Youngstown Library Association. Another notable figure was board president John H. Clark. Clark was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1916. Clark was a champion of women’s suffrage, mandatory civil service, and public disclosure of campaign expenditures.
The building continues to serve the Youngstown Public Library system which has grown to include eighteen locations throughout Youngstown and adjacent communities in Mahoning County.
Library History , www.libraryvisit.org. Accessed October 9th 2019. https://www.libraryvisit.org/about-us/library-history/.
Williams , Judy. Reuben McMillan Free Library . National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. Published March 27th 1986. United States Department of the Interior .
"John H. Clarke." Oyez. Accessed October 9, 2019. https://www.oyez.org/justices/john_h_clarke.