PLEASANT HILL — Earlier this year, the Oakes-Beitman Memorial Library in Pleasant Hill celebrated its 60th anniversary and the many people who helped make the library what it is today.
The library celebrated this milestone in April with past and present library employees and managers, as well as village officials and other members of the community, branch supervisor Andrea Wackler said.
The Oakes-Beitman Memorial Library was established in 1957 after Pleasant Hill native Ellie Wampler, who died in 1952, bequeathed her home to be used as a public library. She also tried to ensure that income for its operation would be provided by funds generated by farmland she also willed to the future library.
Wackler also shared a little known fact — Wampler stipulated that the building always had to provide a public restroom.
Establishing a new library was not as simple as Wampler might have hoped when she made her bequest, because Ohio law prevented the establishment of a new public library district and income from the farm was deemed insufficient.
“So they went to the Troy-Miami County Public Library and said, ‘Would you be willing to start a library over here?’” Wackler said.
The Troy-Miami County Public Library agreed, but did not want to own the building and sold it to the village for $1, Wackler added. The Oakes-Beitman Memorial Public library is part of the Troy-Miami County Public Library, along with the Troy Local History Library.
The library grew in the 1980s, when a new wing was added to the back. This year, the second floor of the original building got a facelift, something the library also celebrated in April.
The upstairs rooms — which obviously used to be bedrooms, Wackler said — used to house the local history displays.
Now that the Pleasant Hill History Center has a building of its own, the library decided to convert the upstairs to meeting rooms and installed new air conditioning.
“This summer, we’ve had several teachers up there tutoring,” she said. “Anybody can come in and ask to use the space.”
The renovations were made possible with the help of non-profit organizations, the Miami County Foundation and Heart-Song Inc.
In its 60 years of operation, the Oakes-Beitman Memorial Library has become a fixture in the community, Wackler said.
As libraries have evolved in the digital age, many have become more like community centers, hosting events and providing meeting space for patrons. This is definitely true for the people of Pleasant Hill — especially its younger residents, she said.
“We’re only two blocks from the school, so we take care of them after school and during the summer,” Wackler said.
The library is currently enjoying a record breaking summer, Wackler added. Attendance is way up and the number of students signed up for the summer reading program has more than doubled.
“When you consider that the town is only 1,205 people, that’s huge,” she said. “That’s a third of the population.”
The library is located at 12 N. Main St., Pleasant Hill. For more information, call (937) 676-2731 or visit www.facebook.com/philllibrary.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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