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The first public library in Port Clinton was founded in 1908 by the Ladies' Literary and Social Club. It was located in the home of club member Mrs. George Hyde at 313 East Second Street. The newly established library was managed by a committee composed of Mrs. William E. Bense, Mrs. Samuel Magruder, and Mrs. George Sloan. The ladies sponsored “Tag Days”, when they sold tags on the streets of Port Clinton to raise funds for the library. The Ladies' Literary and Social Club remained active in raising money for the library. Port Clinton's first public library, occupying two rooms in City Hall, opened on February 13, 1913.
Left to Right: Mrs. Thorne, Mrs. George Hyde, Mrs. Camper, Mrs. Earl McDowell, Mrs. Jason Miller, Mrs. Alexander, Mrs. James Hollingshead, Mrs. Edward True, ??, Mrs. Allen Kelly, Mrs. William Kelly, Mrs. Beber Next Row Left to Right: Mrs. Starr and grandson (Fred N.), Mrs. William Wonnell, Mrs. William Gordon, Earl Payne, Mrs. John Neidecker and Elizabeth, Mrs. Jo Payne and Catherine, Mrs. Marshall, Mrs. Bense, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. D. McRitchie, Mrs. Sloan Seated on Ground: Doris Magery, Dr. Clara Gillard, Mrs. Scott Stahl
First Row: Clara True, ??, Mrs. de la Barre, Molly Crawford, Molly Wonnell, Mrs.
Darlison w/ Leah, Emma Fall, Mrs. Webster Second Row: ??, Mrs. Cunningham,
??, Mrs. David R. McRitchie, Mrs. Magruder, Mrs. Alphonse Couche, ??, ??
Mrs. Malcolm Kelly, Mrs. Mattie Sloan, Mrs. Porter, Mrs. William Millers
Third Row: ??, Minnie MacDowell, ??, Mrs. Beber, ??, ??, Mrs. Jim Thorne, Mrs.
Marshall holding Boyd, Mrs. Alice (David) McRitchie, Mrs. Kelly, Dr. Clara Hyde Gillard,
Mrs. James Alma Miller, Mrs. James McRitchie, Mrs. WIlbur Gill,
Mrs. James Hollingshead Fourth Row: Mrs. Fred Camper, Mrs. Starr, Mrs. Neidecker
In 1922, the management of the library was turned over to the Port Clinton Board of Education and a levy was made for its permanent maintenance. “The library became a “school district library,” with its members appointed by the local school board, and its boundaries determined by the school district borders. At a joint meeting of the village council, Portage Township Trustees, and members of the Library Board, held in January, 1928, it was unanimously agreed to grant the use of the auditorium in the City Hall for library purposes." The library remained in this location for forty-one years.
At first the library was strictly limited to use by residents of the village of Port Clinton. However, over the ensuing years, library privileges were purchased for residents of Portage, Catawba and Erie Townships, at first by local women’s groups and later by the Township Trustees. From at least 1923 through 1961 the library operated the Port Clinton High School library as a branch of the public library, hiring the librarian and provided materials.
In 1935, the library began to receive some of its funding from the state Intangibles tax. Other funds came from the county auditor and the State Library of Ohio. The Port Clinton Library became a County Extension Library, which authorized it to provide services anywhere in Ottawa County.
The library began providing library materials to Erie Proving Grounds in March of 1941.
In the mid-1950s the library discussed with the two other libraries in Ottawa County, Genoa and Oak Harbor, the possibility of combining into a County District Library System. This idea was abandoned, but the Port Clinton library continue to serve as a County Extension Library.
Library services were expanded with the establishment of a bookmobile service in 1958. The bookmobile traveled to all parts of the county on a regular schedule.
On his death in 1964, Judge Lawrence C. Rupp bequeathed from his estate the sum of $42,000 toward a new library building as a memorial to his late wife, Ida, member of the Ladies' Literary and Social Club, and a Library Board member from 1917 until her death in 1926.
Voters in the Port Clinton School District approved a levy of $175,000 for the construction of a new library at 310 Madison Street in 1967. In 1968, the library moved from City Hall to its present location on Madison Street. The property was the former residence of Dr. Paul de la Barre, a physician, whose office stood next to his residence.
In 1983, the Intangibles Tax, the only local revenue source of the library, was abolished. It was replaced by the state Library and Local Government Support Fund (LLGSF), created by setting aside a percentage of the state income tax each year.
In 1986 the library’s “Ohioana Collection” began with donation from Dr. and Mrs. George Parsons.
In 1983, the Library Board entered into an agreement with the Put-in-Bay Local School District Board of Education to provide a library in the Put-in-Bay school. The Erie Islands Library was thus created to serve both as a school library for the students of the Put-in-Bay School, and as a public library for the residents of Put-in-Bay and the Erie Islands. The School District is responsible for the utilities and the maintenance of the facility, and the Library Board is responsible for personnel and library materials expenses. The Erie Island Library was renovated in 2009 and its patrons have access to over 5.2 million items through consortium participation and inter-library loans.
In May of 1990, the voters of the Port Clinton School District passed a bond issue for $1.2 million to expand the main library building and add additional parking. Ground was broken for the project in December of 1990. The original building was completely renovated and the size of the library was increased 40% from 12,500 square feet to 18,000 square feet. The new library opened to the public on August 19, 1991, and a rededication ceremony and open house were held September 29.
The Library catalog went on-line 24 hours a day in 1998, beginning a new era of service to library patrons.
In 1999, the Library Board purchased an adjacent property on the west side of the main library. Additional parking was created, as was a reading garden with outside seating. Subsequently, the City of Port Clinton vacated ownership of the alley that separated the library from these additional parking spaces and reading garden.
On June 20, 2002, the Library Board dedicated the Joan Bowen Loeffler Reading Garden in honor of Mrs. Donald Loeffler's thirty-five years of service on the Library Board.
Voters of the Port Clinton School District approved the first-ever property tax levy for the support of the Ida Rupp Public Library in November 2009.
The library district served by Ida Rupp was expanded in January 2013, in response to changes to the laws governing Ohio’s libraries. The new library district encompassed all six of the easternmost townships of Ottawa County, including the Danbury, North Bass, Middle Bass, and South Bass Local School Districts, as well as the Port Clinton City School District.
The Friends of the Ida Rupp Public Library donated funds to provide for the complete renovation of the front of the main library in 2013. The Friends Plaza was dedicated in June 2013.
In November 2014, the library, with funds supplied by the Friends of the Ida Rupp Public Library, purchased the Collins property located directly west of the back parking lot. The house was demolished and a green space was created for both outdoor library programs and for future expansion.
In June, 2015 the library purchased a building in Marblehead to establish a branch library. On June 16, 2017, the Marblehead Peninsula Branch Library opened. The branch was made possible by the 2014 passage of a 0.8 mil replacement levy by the voters of the Ida Rupp Public Library District.