The CLEVELAND LIBRARY ASSN. (CLA), chartered in 1848, was a leading intellectual organization in Cleveland during the latter half of the 19th century. The CLA was established by the Young Men's Literary Assn. and incorporated with 200 shares of stock at $.10 cents each, the yearly profit to be used for the acquisition of books. Its original purpose was to maintain a library, a reading room, a museum, and an annual series of lectures. WILLIAM CASE, president of the Young Men's Literary Assn., and CHARLES WHITTLESEY were largely responsible for its founding. An annually elected Board of Trustees controlled the association until 1870, when 5 directors were appointed for life. The first 5 directors were SAMUEL WILLIAMSON, JAMES BARNETT, HERMAN M. CHAPIN, WILLIAM BINGHAM, and Benjamin A. Stanard. Dr. John W. Perrin was head librarian for many years. The CLA initially occupied a small room on Superior and was open to the public on a subscription basis. By 1858 its library had increased to 3,000 volumes, with 500 subscribers: the largest library in Cleveland at the time. The CLA also offered a winter lecture series; Ralph Waldo Emerson was the featured lecturer in 1853, 1859, and 1867. In 1867 the CLA moved to the second floor of CASE HALL and opened to the public. In 1870 LEONARD CASE donated an endowment of $25,000 and a perpetual lease. The CLA collected special books and manuscripts relating to local history and relics of natural history. In 1867 the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY was founded as a department of the association. Another department, the Kirtland Society of Natural Sciences, founded in 1870, evolved into the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY. In 1876 Leonard Case deeded Case Hall to the Cleveland Library Assn., thereafter known as the Case Library. The name later changed to the Leonard Case Reference Library, consolidated into Western Reserve Univ. (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIV.) in 1941.


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