The CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM (CCPL), established by referendum in Nov. 1922, was the nation's seventh busiest library system in 1993. In 1994 it was composed of 4 regional libraries (in MAYFIELD HTS., MAPLE HTS., FAIRVIEW PARK, and PARMA) and 28 branches, serving more than 617,000 residents in 48 SUBURBS. The County Library System opened on 1 April 1924 on the third floor of the Kinney & Levan Bldg., with Margaret Thayer as head librarian. The original petition called for including all of Cuyahoga County not then served by an existing public library. Only 8 communities had tax-supported library service in 1922: BAY VILLAGE, BRECKSVILLE, Cleveland, CLEVELAND HTS., Dover (WESTLAKE), EAST CLEVELAND, Idlewood (UNIV. HTS.), and LAKEWOOD. A few other communities had libraries supported by private funds. During the first year, 8 branches and 15 stations were organized, extending service to rural districts. In 1925 the Brecksville board voted to merge with the County Library System. Other private libraries, such as those in NORTH OLMSTED and CHAGRIN FALLS VILLAGE, turned over their collections to the county, which opened branches in their communities. The North Olmsted collection included part of the WESTERN RESERVE's first circulating library, books brought by covered wagon from New England.
In addition to traditional services, CCPL has offered consumer and community information and referral and InfoPLACE, for vocational guidance, among other free services. In the 1980s it changed to a totally on-line catalog system, available in 1993 to patrons at home via modem. CCPL had a collection of more than 2.9 million items in 1993. Patrons borrowed more than 10.3 million items that year, almost doubling the amount borrowed in 1985 (5.6 million). The system belongs to CAMLS, the Cleveland Area Metropolitan Library System. The county system has a 7-member Board of Trustees who serve rotating 7-year terms. Three members are appointed by the Court of Common Pleas and 4 by the county commissioners (see CUYAHOGA COUNTY GOVERNMENT). In Sept. 1988 CCPL became the first area library to open a branch in a shopping mall (the Richmond Mall branch in RICHMOND HTS.). In the 1990s CCPL opened a new administration building at 2111 Snow Rd. (formerly located at 4510 Memphis Ave.), extensively remodeled libraries in communities such as SOUTH EUCLID, and constructed or planned new buildings for the Brecksville, Parma-Snow, and Fairview Park libraries, among others.