ACDL Phones and Faxes Out of Service

Our phones and faxes are out of service. You will be unable to reliably reach our voicemail during the Junteeth holiday as we upgrade our service.

We can be reached through our other channels including via email at All phones and faxes will be back in service when we reopen on Thursday.


ACDL History Header Image

For over 125 years, public libraries have been serving the citizens of Ashtabula County in the region served by what is now known as the Ashtabula County District Library. As the needs of our communities have changed, so has the library. This is our story.

Old Neptune Engine House and Ashtabula Public Library Located on the northeast corner of Center & Elm.

Early Days - Ashtabula

Library service in the City of Ashtabula began as a subscription library association in 1813. It was incorporated in 1896 as the Ashtabula Free Public Library.

Gifts to the Community

In 1901, Ashtabula was one of the many communities across the world to receive funds to build and maintain a Public Library from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

These funds were combined in 1902, with the proceeds of the estate of Ashtabulan Maria Conklin bequeathed to the Free Public Library of Ashtabula to begin construction of a new library building for Ashtabula.

Notice from the February 1902 issue of Library Journal regarding the Conklin bequest. It reads: "Ashtabula (O.) P..L. By the will of the late Maria Conklin, of Ashtabula, the entire estate of the testator is bequeathed to "erect and construct in whole or in part a suitable building for the Free Public Library to be known as the Conklin Library Building." The value of the estate is not given.
Ashtabula Public Library prior to expansions stands next to the old Ashtabula High School.

The Carnegie-Conklin Library

In 1903, the new building, located on Division Street (later named West 44th Street), opened as the Carnegie-Conklin Library.

A change in State Library law permitted the Ashtabula Free Public Library to become a county district library in 1953.

An addition was added in 1958 and a new entrance and elevator in 1984.

Disaster & Recovery

On October 3, 1990, while undergoing a million dollar renovation project, a fire broke out on the second floor of the Ashtabula Public Library.

Extensive fire and water damage closed the building for repairs, extending and complicating the remodeling project.

Front page coverage of the Ashtabula Library fire in the Star Beacon of October 4, 1990..
The reopened library in 1992. Lit by floodlights.


After the fire, the library was forced to relocate temporarily. Its plight became national news through Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene, prompting donations of over 30,000 books from readers nationwide.

Through use of insurance & development funds and thanks to the huge outpouring of donated items the library was finally able to reopen March of 1992.

Early Days - Geneva

The early history of library service in the City of Geneva is strongly associated with Genevan Platt R Spencer.

Spencer is credited with establishing a number of libraries in the community, notably the "East Street Library" established in 1832 in the home of his brother.

Image of Platt R Spencer, prominent 19th Century educator, calligrapher, and the originator of Spencerian penmanship.
Carnegie Library in Geneva as built in 1910.

The Carnegie Building in Geneva

In 1910, Geneva, like Ashtabula, received a grant to build and maintain a Public Library from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

These funds were combined in 1910, with funds from the Platt R. Spencer Memorial Association to create a new library.

Expanding Size and Reach

In 1938, a significant enlargement of the Carnegie building was completed, doubling the library's size.

In 1955, the library would join the Ashtabula County District Library,

There would be subsequent additions in 1984 and 1989 before consideration would be given to the possibility of a new building.

Image of Geneva Free Press article on July 7, 1938 announcing the first major addition to the Geneva Library.
Image of the Geneva Library as it has appeared since 1997.

Geneva Growing into a New Space

In May 1995, a bond issue was passed by the citizens in the Geneva Area City School District to construct a new Geneva Library.

The new building opened in June of 1997 and has served the Geneva and adjacent communities since.

The County Bookmobile

The County-wide Bookmobile service began in 1958 and was a result of the previous extension service offered by the Ashtabula Public Library.

Subsequent vehicles continued this tradition. In 2007, ACDL's current Bookmobile (above) hit the roads of Ashtabula County, bringing books, videos, and programs throughout the county.

Images of three iterations of the County Bookmobile over sixty-five years.
Map showing a portion of ACDL's service area includes all or part of 14 townships.

Ongoing Local Support

In the fall of 2013, the ACDL passed a levy to support and expand its operations and help offset cuts at the state level. This levy was graciously replaced by the voters at the same millage in November of 2022 for another ten years.

About 57% of ACDL’s revenue in the current budget comes from the State’s Public Library Fund (PLF) and 38% comes from our local 10-year tax levy.

Continuing to Grow

In the fall of 2014, the Board approved a project to expand the existing library in Ashtabula and renovate the Geneva building using a plan developed by Ziska Architecture of Cleveland.

Construction broke ground on the Ashtabula expansion on May 18, 2015, and we celebrated our grand re-opening on September 11, 2016.

An arial view of Ashtabula highlighting the results of the 2015 expansion project.
An image showing a small piece of a draft new floorplan and a mockup of a new bookmobile.

Into the future...

Thanks to the support of Ashtabula County voters, ACDL can now plan for the future.

As of March of 2023, ACDL is pursuing a new bookmobile and a significant expansion of the Geneva Branch.

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