A letter to Wagnalls Memorial Library members, patrons, donors, sponsors and visitors on the expanded efforts we are taking to preserve our community’s historic library building, theater group, and other vital programs.

Dear Community,

The Wagnalls Memorial Library has helped educate and enrich the lives of people living in the Columbus area since 1925 when Mabel Wagnalls Jones designed and built the library in memory of her parents, Anna and Adam Wagnalls. A historical landmark rich with history and splendor, first-time visitors are always enthralled at its architectural beauty and original handcrafted features. In these fast-paced and ever-changing times, The Wagnalls Memorial has maintained its authenticity making it a unique destination for lifelong learners, history lovers, and visitors from across the country.

Located in Lithopolis, just outside of Columbus, our library serves over 7,000 local library members (cardholders) who use the library in various traditional ways. Cardholders have access to our collection of over 57,000 physical titles at Wagnalls, while also being able to reserve and enjoy thousands of other titles through a consortium of 17 area libraries that mutually share their collections with us. Library members may also borrow from over 3 million titles online through Wagnalls’ shared collection which includes yearly renewable contract with OverDrive, a digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, music, and DVDs . The collection also includes magazines, local newspapers, CDs, movies and audio books.

Our recently remodeled children’s section of the library is located on our lower level, making it a safe, contained area for little ones to explore and learn. Knowing that reading is essential to every child’s development, we offer popular hands-on storytime programs for preschool-aged children. We have a fine arts program for grades K-3 during the school year. For children in grades K through 12, We work closely with area schools to support their learning goals and curriculum, adapting our programs as needed while making certain we have the proper materials to promote reading comprehension, learning and reading enjoyment. Wagnalls also offers a variety of youth programs tailored for different ages including a Harry Potter Book Club, a Teen Book Club, a Writing Club, a Math Club, a Mini Chefs Club, and our Summer Reading Program.

Adults of all ages rely on Wagnalls to expand their knowledge and improve their business and technology skills. By offering classes on computer keyboarding and computer technology, we’ve been able to help people become more employable, understand how to use technology in their everyday lives, and better manage their small businesses. Adults also participate in a number of library clubs, programs, classes and activities including book clubs, gardening clubs, art classes, yoga classes, essential oils classes, and other healthful activities at our library.

To honor its legacy of also being a center for cultural activities, Wagnalls provides Central Ohio with a Theater Arts Enrichment program that includes children’s acting classes and performances managed through Mouth of the Wolf Productions. The rotational 8-week program features age-appropriate performances regularly held the Wagnalls Historic Auditorium for the public to enjoy. Students who participate in our Theater Arts program not only learn acting, movement and projection basics, but also develop important life skills such as creativity, self confidence and team building.

As president of the Wagnalls Memorial Foundation, I am tasked with ensuring that Wagnalls has the funding it needs to: a) Maintain our beautiful, historic facility; b) Continue our tradition of providing quality titles and enriching programs to local residents; and c) Sustain our Theater Arts program. Through intense and careful planning with our board of directors and dedicated library staff, we have identified an immediate need to raise $200,000 within the next two years to ensure the future of Wagnalls.

It is my hope to share in this letter with you, the community that holds us accountable for this historic treasure, a genuine plea for immediate support from all sectors of our local society. I am confident in the creative methods of our marketing team as well as the generous giving of our stakeholders that Wagnalls will remain an integral part of our lives for generations to come.

In order for Wagnalls to thrive, we are developing a variety of community building events designed to bring people together, raise awareness of the library, and generate needed revenue. We will be reaching out to individuals, families, local companies and organizations to give and to become sponsors of various programs and events while continuing to explore grants and other revenue generating possibilities. By establishing Wagnalls as premier wedding venue and working with carefully selected catering partners, we are projecting our wedding event income to triple in 2019.

I welcome your thinking and your suggestions as we collectively strive to meet the financial challenges that so many nonprofit and historical organizations are facing today.


Larry Browne
The Wagnalls Memorial Foundation

For more information about The Wagnalls Memorial, please call us at (614) 837-4765. We’d love to hear from you.