The mission of the Wornstaff Memorial Public Library is “to provide free service to all residents of Ashley and the surrounding community with a collection of media intended at all times for balanced general enjoyment and enrichment. The goal of our collection is for the communication of ideas in order to promote an enlightened citizenship, and to enrich the personal lives at all age levels.”
The Wornstaff Memorial Public Library was dedicated in August 1928 to Albertus Wornstaff. Chesley and Elsa Wornstaff were inspired by a memorial library they had visited in Florida, and made provisions in their will for a similar memorial in Ashley. The will at the reading in 1914, provided $10,000 (equivalent to $250,000 in 2018), with $7,000 going toward the building and land for the erection of “a building of stone and brick.” The remaining funds were used for books and supplies. The original endowment of the Wornstaff house provided $40,000 of the $70,000 needed for the 1980 addition. Another expansion occurred in 1990, doubling the size of the original building. Their forethought and generosity in creating this legacy has been a gift to the Village of Ashley for 90 years.
Furniture and other equipment were obtained from the Mansfield Reformatory. Inmates built, delivered and installed shelving which was a common practice at the time. Foundation bricks bear the legend Ohio State Brick 1927 convict made. The circulation desk and library tables are still in use today. The library was also given a few antique pieces of furniture from the Wornstaff home.
The landscaping was completed by the vocational agriculture class. Books were purchased and donated by local residents. Mary Barton, a teacher and librarian, volunteered her time preparing the books for use. High school students, assisted by teachers, acted as librarians during the first few years. Daisy Haughn was the first paid librarian, starting in 1930. State money became available for the support of public libraries.
In 1952, the Delaware County District Library proposed that the Wornstaff Library consolidate, but a resolution was passed to remain an independent library. The Wornstaff is an association library with its trustees established by the will, rather than law.
In 2012, the library joined the Consortium of Ohio Libraries (COOL). COOL is currently comprised of 12 independent libraries, which strive to provide high-quality library services while being more efficient and prudent with diminishing public resources. The COOL app allows patrons to access the catalog as well as information about library events. The advantage to being part of COOL is access to over 300,000 items, while still maintaining independence.
Library funding comes from the Public Library Fund, private endowments, as well as levies from the Village of Ashley and Oxford Township. The operating budget for the year 1956 totaled $2,450. In comparison, the 2018 operating budget is just over $485,000.
In March 2018, the library held 28,559 print and audio/visual materials for circulation. The library serves as a meeting place for many groups and provides programming to the community. The library currently employs nine staff members.
The library, located at 302 E. High St. in Ashley, is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The Wornstaff Memorial Public Library is inviting the public to come celebrate its 90th anniversary from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25. Ice cream will be served, and entertainment will be provided by the Heritage Dulcimer Group.
Submitted by the Wornstaff Memorial Public Library.