History of the Extension & Outreach Services Department
Community has always been important in Hancock County. Recognizing all the library had to offer to our friends and neighbors in Hancock County, a resolution was passed by the Findlay Public Library Board of Trustees in 1947 officially proclaiming that “the benefits of the library service of the Findlay Public Library be, and hereby are, extended on equal terms to all the inhabitants of Hancock County.” This was the beginning of what is now the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library’s Extension and Outreach Department, and sharing the joy of books and learning with all of the residents of our county.
Although that was the official beginning, librarians made sure to share the gift of literacy many years before that. In 1927, a branch was established at Washington School. Lincoln School was the location of the next branch library, opened in 1939. Books would be loaded into a Nash Rambler and taken to the city and county schools on a rotating 6-week schedule. Also in 1939, the library began making books available to hospital patients. From 1939 through 1944, stations were made available in Rawson, Benton Ridge, Van Buren, Arcadia, in Arlington through the work of the Community Center Club, and in Mount Blanchard, where a collection was placed in an office of the Mount Blanchard Journal.
Soon after, in July of 1950, it was time for books to go mobile and a Plymouth station wagon was purchased for use as a book delivery vehicle. During the 1952-1953 school year, Miss Doris Jean Semler, the extension librarian, distributed 7,513 books to elementary schools within the city. During that same time period, 8,840 books were circulated to 10 county schools.
Making library books available to everyone was such a passion for librarian Gretchen Yencer, there was briefly a “branch” in Mount Blanchard in her living room in the 1960s, operating two days a week after the newspaper office closed and the people of Mount Blanchard were left without a library branch.
From the librarian’s living room to patrons’ living rooms, home delivery service of library material began in the early 1970s for residents of Hancock County who were unable to access the library because of physical disabilities and seniors who were no longer able to drive. Deliveries to jail inmates also started in the mid 70s. As the Plymouth acquired twenty years prior began to show its age, a Chevy station wagon was purchased in February of 1971 to replace it.
With gas prices soaring in the 1970s, the library’s extension department worked to provide an alternative. In August of 1973, mail order services were started by the library. Patrons would call the library, request a book, and it would be shipped to them, along with a return label and postage paid envelope for sending it back to the library when they had finished reading.
The 1980s brought a new Cory-Rawson branch of the library and a new blue book van, complete with shelving units built in to carry a larger collection.
The first modern Bookmobile was put into action in 1990, which marked the closing of the Mount Blanchard Branch. As the 28-foot-long Bookmobile was about the same size of the branch, it could be used to serve that area. The idea of a bookmobile is found in library history archives going back to the 1940s when the first recommendation for a bookmobile was made, but for reasons lost to history, never came to fruition.
Currently, the Extension and Outreach Department cruises in a stylishly designed Bookmobile purchased in 2021, and a matching Outreach vehicle, a Chevy Traverse, visiting the communities of Hancock County and sharing our collections, information on programs, and digital resources.
Outreach Coordinator Lisa Dryden is quickly becoming a recognized person in Hancock County. She visits city and county schools, community events, does Storytime for local preschools, and attends any other event that she has a chance to share what’s available at the library.
Kayleen Veit, Extension and Outreach Manager, said she loves working with the people of Hancock County, and visiting the villages on the Bookmobile stops. “My favorite thing is being on the Bookmobile and sharing our collection with people that can’t get to the library, or just prefer to go to a Bookmobile stop. I love having conversations with people, and telling them about all of the things the library is involved in and resources that are available even if you don’t go to the library in Findlay. You want the new bestseller? Let me know, and we’ll bring it to you. There are no closed doors here. The doors to the bookmobile are always open!”
As in 1947, community is still a top priority. Just as we strove to bring our friends and neighbors back then the latest issue of Look magazine, we still challenge ourselves to bring the latest digital technology resources, streaming services, and of course, books.
Home Service is available to residents of Hancock County who are unable to access the library because of physical disabilities and to seniors who are no longer able to drive.
Delivery is available to nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and private residences. Patrons may request specific items or receive materials selected by library staff based on their preferences.
This is a free service for blind and physically handicapped patrons. Download the application HERE. A machine will be provided to you, as well as a catalog to choose your talking books. Selections are then delivered to you. Online Catalog available HERE.
The Bookmobile, a library-on-wheels, serves communities throughout Hancock County. It houses a diverse collection of books, music, magazines and movies for patrons of any age to check out on site. Over 1600 Books, 165 magazines, 1200 movies, 225 music CD’s and 35 audiobooks are available on the Bookmobile. Patrons may also request specific items to be delivered to their stops during its next visit. The Bookmobile makes special visits to schools upon request.
Arcadia 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Van Buren 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Vanlue 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Mt. Blanchard 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Mt. Cory 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Benton Ridge 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Jenera 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Rawson 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
1st & 3rd Tuesday of each month
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Brookdale Assisted Living
4th Tuesday of each month
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
For More information about Extension and Outreach Services, please contact