The Cleveland Public Library opened in 1869 as a public school library. The library occupied temporary and rented spaces until the Main Library located to a new building in 1925. The circulation at the library reached a high of 10,374,652 in 1932. In 1957, the library’s increasing size led voters to approve funds for the purchase and renovation of the former Plain Dealer building.
In 1970, the library’s circulation dropped to a low of 3,402,050. In 1975, the library started building new neighborhood branches and renovating the old ones to reverse the decrease in circulation. The library finished the renovation process in the late 1980s. The Cleveland Public Library has neighborhood branches in Addison, Fulton, Rockport and several other locations.
The library computerized its card catalog by 1981. Voters approved a bond issue in 1991 for the preservation of collections, introduction of technology and renovation at the library.
The Main Library’s Louis Stokes Wing opened in 1997. This new building, named after Ohio’s first African-American elected to the U.S. Congress, has 11 floors.The Eastman Reading Garden separates the two buildings. In 1999, renovation of the Main Library took place. The Main Library and the Louis Stokes Wing are both on Superior Avenue, and together, the buildings take up an entire block.