The History of the Bellaire Public Library
CITIZENS LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
A library was established on February 24, 1871 in Bellaire. It was called the "Citizens Library Association." This was a private library in the sense that it was maintained by private citizens. It was modeled after the subscription library plan. Patrons of the library would pay a membership fee and have borrowing privileges.
On June 3, 1891 this same library was incorporated into the non-profit organization called the "North Bellaire Library Association." It was established "for the instruction and entertainment of the young people of Bellaire, where they shall be free from the allurements of gambling and strong drink, and they shall be taught habits of industry and the proper amenities of social life..."
Around 1880, a reading room was also established by School Superintendent Cox in the old Central Building.
The building was located where the present Bellaire High School Cafeteria and basketball gym are now. This building was razed to make way for the Bellaire High School Building in 1926.
GRAVEL HILL READING ROOM
"The Bellaire Reading Room," Bellaire's first public library, was located on the corner of Forty-Fourth and Noble Streets in what was then called the Weyrick Drugstore. The old reading room, a one story building containing two commodious rooms, was erected in 1881. The grounds were donated by Miss Lizzie Cummins, and the money to erect the structure, $1,000, was raised by subscription. Books and other reading matter were contributed by the citizens of the city and for over 25 years the building was used as a sort of public library. According to a newspaper article from the Bellaire Daily Leader dated November 4, 1916, several years earlier, due to a lack of interest on the part of the young people, the original purpose of the reading room was abandoned.
Since that time the structure had been used as a place of worship by the Slavish population of the city, a meeting place for the Boys Brigade, and various other purposes. The building and grounds were sold at a public auction on November 25, 1916.
BELLAIRE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Bellaire Public Library was founded in 1927. It moved into the basement of the Bellaire High School. School Superintendent J. V. Nelson, donated books from his personal library. It was supported by the County Intangibles Tax until the end of 1985. This was a tax on investments. Since 1986 the library has largely been supported by a portion of the State Income Tax of Ohio.
In the 1940’s James F. Mellott and William D. Mellott left money in their will to establish the Mellott Trust. Their wills provided money ($450,000)to build and maintain a public library and community center in memory of their father, Amos Mellott, and his family. The new Mellott Memorial Building was completed in 1959. The public library moved from Bellaire High School to the new building in 1960.
John J. Rietz was the architect and Walter H. Braum, library consultant. The general contracting was done by the Byrum Construction Company. The library was built within a year and opened to the public on Monday, December 19, 1960.
The Library, on opening day in 1960, had 14,000 books in its collection.
In 1998-2000, the library was remodeled and expanded to more than double its original size.