The first mention of a Sabina Public Library was in 1917 with a balance in the treasury of $252.59.  This is all the information that has been found.  If anyone knows more of this early date, please let us know, as there was apparently some type of library.  It is told that people donated books and they were exchanged in the Blakely Hat Shop.

In September 1937, the Sabina Public Library opened at Sabina School as a school district public library with $400.00 from the County Tax commission.  Helen Probasco, a teacher, organized the library and Jean Gallagher became the first librarian. The library was open to the public as well as the students.

In June and July of 1939 the library was moved to the Thorpe Building on W. Elm Street with Doris Weller (Gaskins) as librarian.  Jean Rapp, Esther Barns, and Ruth Pollard served as librarians there.  In May 1954 the library moved to the Sabina Municipal Building to a much larger room.  Clara Hawk followed Ruth Pollard as head librarian and then Joyce Smith.  Assistant librarians during the years were Helen and Joan Sparks, Ethel McCann, Anna Newman, Bertha Driscoll and Jean Everman.

The minutes show that in May 1968, a discussion was held about the need for more room and the desire for a library building owned by the library.  The entire funding at that time came from county intangible taxes.  Overdue fines were charged on books, but that income was so small it really didn't help much with library expenses.  The annual library budget at that time was under $30,000.00 and money from the County Tax Commission was enough to save a little in addition to paying expenses which were primarily paying the librarians and buying new books and magazines.

In 1976 the Beverly Building (the old Beverly's 5 & 10 cent store) was purchased in the hope that a library could be built there eventually.  The library had enough money to pay for the lot.  The only two options at that time would have been to run a bond levy or to try to get enough  private contributions to build. The library board hated to ask for help in either way, but there seemed to be no other solution.  However, help came along from an entirely unexpected source.  Both Dr. Lang and Margaret Parrett had died and they left most of their estate to the library.

Dr. Parrett was the son of one of the Rapp sisters who in turn was the daughter of Joseph Rapp, proprietor and owner of the Rapp House, a well known stop on the Columbus-Cincinnati Pike.  It was originally a tollhouse and was located at the northwest corner of Washington and Howard Streets.  It became known throughout the area as a wonderful place to stay with unsurpassable food served by Mrs. Rapp and her daughters.  When the railroad came through Sabina the Rapps sent a wagon to the depot to bring back travelers for overnight.  They had the first telephone in town, which was in touch only with the depot.

Dr. Parrett was a well-known dentist and avid Republican.  He lived in the house beside the present post office (built on Rapp land). He spent the winters in Florida for many years and people could always tell when he was home as he always hung an artificial parrot on the front porch.  Also, in the yard was a cement elephant as large as a real baby elephant, expressing his political leanings.  One may see the tools of his dental profession at the Clinton County Historical Society.

Dr. and Mrs. Parrett left their investments to the library with the stipulation that interest could be used for the good of the library, but the principal could not be touched.  The National Bank and Trust administer it.  This wonderful gift made it possible for the library to build their own building, but there was one problem. It would have to be paid off over a period of years, therefore necessitating a loan.  At that time, the library board could not legally take out a loan.  Virginia Hamilton Beam was on the library board at that time and she and her husband, Bill, had a dream of a new library.  Bill signed the note for the library and it became a reality.  As if that wasn't enough, Bill Beam's company, Melvin Stone, demolished and hauled away the building on the corner lot the library had previously purchased.  On April 27, 1980, the new library was formally dedicated.

About the time the new library was paid off, the Victorian house north of the library came up for sale.  The library board decided it should take the opportunity to purchase it, as any enlargement to the library would have to go in that direction.  However, after much discussion, it was decided that the Lightner House (so named because of the two (2) Dr. Lightners who lived and practiced there) was too historical and in too good a condition to be demolished.  Therefore, it was decided to let the community use the house rent-free as long as possible.  It has been used continuously and the community has been grateful for its availability.  The library board felt that since Dr. Parrett's gift had made the library a reality and also made purchase of the Lightner House possible, the use of the house is also a part of the Parrett's legacy.

In 1993 and 1994 an addition was made to the library enlarging all areas making the library even more usable.  There is a large genealogy room (named in memory of the Beams), a computer room and an area which can be closed off for children's programs.  Programs are held for children and adults. The library also has  extensive video and audiotape holdings.

In the early 1990's, the funding base for libraries in the state of Ohio changed.  Intangible taxes were phased out and libraries are now funded from state income tax.  Their formula for determining funds seems to be a fair one and our library is getting along well even though our annual budget is now nearing $200,000.00, a far cry from even 30 years ago.


Prepared by Sue Kenney