Beyond Books: Libraries Create Community

Beyond Books: Libraries Create Community

Libraries are among the few remaining places in society where we can spend time without buying something or holding a particular set of beliefs. The Piqua Public Library has been serving our community since its founding in 1890. For the past 130 years, the Library has had three different homes and been called by two other names. When the Library was founded in 1890, it was The Schmidlapp Free School Library at 509 North Main Street. In 1931, the Library became the Flesh Public Library and was housed in the former Piqua Men's Club at 124 West Greene Street. Today, the Piqua Public Library calls the restored Fort Piqua Plaza home. The Library relocated to 116 West High Street in 2008. 

Photograph of the Fort Piqua Plaza at night

Community Space and Connection

The Library is not just a place to borrow books. It's a place where people gather, make connections, and form friendships. Libraries create community. The Piqua Public Library is the meeting place for many local organizations and boards. Most make use of the Founder's or Louis Rooms for their meetings, which are available free of charge. Support groups, like Nar-Anon, and small study groups can meet in one of two Study Rooms on the second floor. A writing club and the Library's own book clubs meet in the Founder's Room to discuss their writing and books they've read. COVID-19 has put a pause on most of the in-person gatherings at the Library. Our staff looks forward to the day when we can safely invite our community to gather together again. 

Photograph of a group of teens and library staff during summer reading. Everyone is wearing Hogwarts style scarves.

When the Piqua Public Library can return to its regular in-person programming, we will be offering children's storytime, craft classes, movie nights, local history lectures, and more! The Library has hosted gardening programs, musical performances, author meet and greets, and even a murder mystery. 

Access to the Internet, Computers, and Research Databases

Many people visit the Piqua Public Library to connect to the Internet. We offer free WiFi as well as access to public computers. Patrons can use our WiFi to download eBooks, check their email or browse social media. Our public computers are used to type up resumes, apply for jobs, research, finish school homework, and more. We also have printers, a fax machine, and a scanner for public use. 

Photograph of one of the computer areas on the second floor of the Piqua Public Library.

The Library subscribes to many databases and educational websites like LinkedIn Learning and the Library Edition of Ancestry. These are available for our visitors to use for free, many from the comfort of their own homes. With LinkedIn Learning, patrons can take classes on various topics, from beginner classes on how to use social media to continuing education and courses that meet a wide range of interests like creative writing, video editing, setting and meeting goals, marketing, and photography. In total, the Library subscribes to 40 databases. These online resources cover a variety of topics, from auto repair to practice exams to newspaper archives.

Assistance with Finding a Job, Homework Help, and Genealogical Research 

Job seekers have a wealth of resources at the Piqua Public Library! Library staff can assist with job searches, making a resume, and accessing free online courses. Students who need help finding the right book to finish their homework can get recommendations from our Information and Reference staff. 

Photograph of the job postings table on the second floor of the Piqua Public Library.

In a reading rut? Check out our many book displays for some inspiration, or ask our staff for book and movie recommendations. Our staff are avid readers and love to share their appreciation of books with our patrons. 

Looking for clues into your ancestors' past? Visit the Local History Department on the second floor. The Library has an extensive archive about local people and events, a rare book collection, microfilm and bound copies of newspapers and journals dating back to 1817, and more. Staff is available to help most Friday afternoons and by appointment. 

Photograph of three library employees at the Information and Reference desk on the second floor of the Piqua Public Library.

If you would like a personal introduction to all of the resources available at the Library, our Book-A-Librarian service is the place to start. These sessions are individually tailored to meet the needs of each person. A library staff member can offer in-depth technical assistance with creating an email account, browsing the Library's catalog, downloading ebooks and audiobooks, searching the Internet, using online resources through the Library's website, or other computer basics.

Artwork and Architecture 

The Piqua Public Library has over 360+ pieces of artwork, many by local artists. The Rollin Gallery, named for local artist Horace Judson Rollin, hosts three to four art exhibitions every year. The gallery isn't the only place to view our art collection. Paintings and sculptures are displayed throughout the three floors of the Library. There is not enough space to display every item in the collection. Different pieces are on display throughout the year. 

Photograph of the Rollin Gallery on the second floor of the Piqua Public Library.

The building housing the Piqua Public Library is a work of art in and of itself. Originally known as the "Orr-Statler Block" building, the Fort Piqua Hotel was designed by architect Joseph W. Yost. Built in 1891 with over 100 hotel rooms, the building has long dominated downtown Piqua. Yost was known for his Richardsonian Romanesque style and designed many courthouses, hotels, and other public buildings in Ohio and New York. The building is an impressive four-and-a-half story Richardsonian Romanesque-style rock-faced building with a three-story arch over the main entrance doors. Hundreds of faces, human, animal, and gargoyle, were carved on the Plaza by James Whyte and his assistant John Clifford.

Collage of five photographs of stone carvings on the outside of the Fort Piqua Plaza.

The inside of the Fort Piqua Plaza is as lovely as its exterior. A grand marble staircase connects the basement, first and second floor levels. Colorful stained glass windows and ceilings sparkle on sunny days. A large fireplace in the lobby is complemented by a grand piano and a large Italian Baroque Mirror. A smaller mirror is located on the second floor. 

Local History

Visitors to the Piqua Public Library can learn a lot of our local history by wandering through the building. Learn about Piqua singing sensation the Mill's Brothers, Colonel John Johnston, and more through artifacts and displays. View our diverse collection of old and rare books on the history of Piqua and Miami County. The Library has many items representing local businesses and industries, including a sizeable Favorite Base Burner coal stove, glass bottles from the Lange Brewery, and the Piqua Coca Cola Bottling Co., shovels, and other tools from the Wood Shovel and Tool Company.

Photograph of the Favorite Base Burner coal stove on the first floor of the Piqua Public Library.

Many families entrust the Library to keep their collections preserved so future generations may enjoy them. The Library has local high school yearbooks, family albums, and an extensive collection of Stieff bears collected by Jean Wilson Reed.

Books, Music, Movies, and Magazines

The Piqua Public Library has an extensive book collection, in both physical and digital forms. Our collection includes: 

  • 145,000+ Books  
  • 985 CDs  
  • 1,850+ Audiobooks  
  • 4,100+ DVDs  
  • 2,250+ Magazines  

Online our collection contains: 

  • 155,000+ eBooks  
  • 41,200+ Digital Audiobooks  
  • 3,000+ Digital Videos  
  • 3,200+ Digital Magazines 

If we don't have the item you're looking for, we can borrow it from another library through an InterLibrary Loan.

Financial Savings

The American Library Association estimates that library users check out about 8 books per person per year. If a new book costs $15 to $20, that's a savings of $120 to $160 each year, just on books! If you borrowed five novels, ten children's books, one audiobook, two interlibrary loans, and six movies, the monetary value would equal $474. If you attended two craft classes, five children's storytimes, used a public computer for three hours and searched two different databases for research, you would use $200 worth of free library resources. See how much money you save at the Piqua Public Library by using the Library Value Calculator.

Photograph of Piqua Public Library staff and patrons eating lunch together in a restaurant.

Libraries have long been repositories of knowledge through books, local records, and other preserved artifacts. The Piqua Public Library is that, and so much more. Located in the center of the city, the Library is at the heart of our community. It's where people gather not just to borrow books but to connect with friends, share smiles, or just to have a short chat with their favorite librarian. 


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