STEUBENVILLE – Alan Hall, director emeritus of the Steubenville and Jefferson County Public Library, was recently honored for his retirement from the service of the state library.
Hall, who served as president of the board that year and became the first Jefferson County resident to serve as a board member for the State Library of Ohio in its 205-year history, received a resolution honoring his recent retirement from a presentation by Wendy Knapp, State Librarian. Hall’s tenure as a board member of the State Library of Ohio ended at the December meeting.
This marks the official end of Hall’s librarianship career, which has spanned 52 years since his tenure at the Washington County Public Library in Marietta in 1970. His service included two years at the IF Freiberger Library in Cleveland, six years at the Delphos Public Library in Delphos, Ohio, and 36 years as Director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, where he is now listed as Director Emeritus.
A native of Marietta, Hall is a graduate of West Virginia University and Case Western Reserve University. In 2020, he became an OHIONET cataloger and a volunteer at the local library, doing online cataloging and editing for the SEO system. He also developed the local archive collection and worked with digitization for the library’s Digital Shoebox Project. “The purpose of the State Library Board is to maintain a library for the state government to serve the information needs of the state government and to serve as the state archive for state and federal documents.” Hall had explained when he began serving on the board. Funds provided by the Ohio General Assembly operate the State Library at 274 E. First Ave. in Columbus and the SEO Library Center in Caldwell. Research and information services are provided to the state government.
“In addition, the State Library of Ohio administers funding from the federal government’s Library and Services and Technology Act for public, academic, school, and specialty libraries in Ohio.” Hall continued and added: “It supports library automation from the SEO Center with 98 library systems at 258 service locations across Ohio.” A proud Hall noted that the pioneering local library system was one of the first four to join the system in 1983.
The State Library of Ohio coordinates the Ohio Talking Book program for blind and physically challenged Ohio residents and serves as a transit agency for the Ohio Public Library Information Network and for the Martha Kinney Cooper Ohioana Library, housed in the State Library building. he added.
“In general, the State Library of Ohio is responsible for a statewide program to develop and coordinate library services in Ohio.” said hall. “Specifically, the board of directors of the state library hires the state librarian and is responsible for setting service boundaries for Ohio’s 251 public library districts.”
The State Library of Ohio was established with legal recognition by Governor Thomas Worthington in 1817, making it one of the state institutions of Ohio, Hall explained. During the 19th century, the state library operated as part of the executive branch of state government, which was converted to a board in 1921 as the agency was given responsibility for library development throughout Ohio.
“The current board structure was enacted in 1955 when the State Library of Ohio began operating independently of the state Department of Education.” Hall noted. “Today, the Board of Directors of the State Library of Ohio operates with a five-member board, with each member serving five-year terms, with terms expiring each year.” he said. Appointments are made by the Ohio State Board of Education.
“During my more than 50 years of service in Ohio public libraries, I was very aware of the State Library of Ohio and often attended seminars and workshops sponsored by this organization, as well as knowing many of the staff who supported Ohio and coordinated public libraries,” Hall mentioned.
In 2018, as his library career drew to a close, Hall read a notice announcing the annual announcement of an appointment to the State Library Board of Directors.
What caught his attention and surprise was the lack of geographic mix in his representation, that the board consisted of three people from Columbus and one each from Dayton and Cincinnati.
“I was just finishing the renovation project at the main library but thought maybe in the future I could expand my resume and fill out an application for the board, but not now.” Hall recalled thinking at the time.
Three months later came another announcement – one of the board members had relocated outside of Ohio and had to resign. Applicants would be accepted for the remainder of their four-year term.
The future was now.
“I decided to apply and in February 2019 I was appointed to the State Library Board by the State Board of Education, so I retired and became a board member almost the same month.” he said.
Hall met with the State Librarian, received his membership handbook, and began his service at the March 19, 2019 board meeting.
During his tenure, the board hired a new state librarian, Wendy Knapp, to replace Beverly Cain, who was retiring. “Public library districts have become less of a problem since legislation passed in 2012-14 reviewed all 251 public library districts and the State Library staff and board worked to clarify those districts.” he said.