A Brief History of DPLS

Library services in Defiance County started around 1873, when a group of civic-minded citizens formed the Defiance Library Association (DLA). At the time, there was no official library building, so various businesses and government buildings took turns housing the books. There also was a fee to borrow books or become a library member. The members of the DLA felt it was time to construct a permanent facility for the collection and make the materials available to the entire community.
After nearly twenty years of fundraising, the DLA donated money to the city of Defiance in 1895, to form a FREE public library. The City Council passed an ordinance for the library, appointed a six-member Board of Trustees and selected the western end of Fort Defiance Park as the location for the permanent library building. The money donated by the DLA wasn’t enough to cover the entire cost of a new building, so the Board of Trustees applied to Andrew Carnegie for help. Carnegie, a very wealthy man sponsoring the construction of libraries across the country at the time, agreed to donate $22,000 to complete the project.
Ground was broken for the foundation in August 1904 and the cornerstone was laid in October of the same year. The building was finally complete and dedicated on July 4, 1905. Over the years, the building has undergone several changes, most notably the addition of the east wing in 1962 and the west wing in 1969.
During that time, the Defiance Public Library System also opened two branch locations in Defiance County, including Johnson Memorial Library in Hicksville (1939) and Sherwood Branch Library in Sherwood (1940). The Defiance Public Library still remains in residence in the original Carnegie building and honors the commitment to serve the citizens of Defiance County, just as its founders planned over a century ago.
Click here to read a letter written in response to Librarian Nellie Gary’s request to know more about the beautiful red sandstone at Defiance Public Library.