The Portage County Library Association was incorporated March 2, 1915 with the help of the Tuesday Club of Ravenna. They served as volunteer librarians until the first librarian was hired in 1915. In the early days the library occupied many locations in downtown Ravenna until Judge Cornelius Reed offered $25,000 for a new building if a site could be found.
the site and 22 members of the community agreed to pay the rest.
Clubs and individuals met the rest of the construction expenses.
The Ravenna Public Library was dedicated June 2, 1924 as a
school district public library. It severed all its ties with 16 county
branches and kept only the branch at the local high school.
The library has always been a busy place. During the depression,
the staff survived salary cuts, but the library was so busy,
additional staff had to be hired. Volunteers helped out during
World War II because of staff and money shortages.
The first summer reading club for children was held in 1944. In
1949, the library began to lend recordings.
By 1947 the library had outgrown its facilities so the board began
a fund raising campaign. It wasn't until 1954 when Mae Reed
Waller, the daughter of Judge Cornelius Reed, gave $100,000 to
the campaign, that the library was able to begin building. The
building doubled in size and was renamed Reed Memorial Library
when it was dedicated in 1956.
In the early 70's, the Children's Room added story times, movie
shows and crafts. Filmstrips, 8mm, and 16mm films were added.
Space again was at a premium.
When Mrs. Waller passed away in the early 60's, she named the
library as one of the beneficiaries of her estate. With the proceeds
from her estate trust, gifts from the community in excess of
$80,000, and several small endowments, the library began
construction for the third time in October 1978. This addition was
dedicated November 18, 1979.
In 1985, the library received $190,500 from the Jane Jenkins
Estate. As soon as the money became available to the library, the
trustees purchased the Marathon Gas Station at 307 E Main for
parking. With the remaining funds and the Haymaker Trust, the
library was able to completely remodel the gas station into a
meeting facility resembling a carriage house. The Jenkins Building
was dedicated June 14, 1987. The library's meeting rooms
currently host close to 800 meetings each year.