January 1, 1898, the Library began with a small Public Reading Room located in the west end of Otterbein. In the spring of 1919, a meeting was called at the Town Hall and plans were formulated for a Public Library. Shortly after this, leaders were sent out to secure the necessary signatures after which the Board of Trustees of the Town of Otterbein and the Trustees of Bolivar Township granted the needed tax levy.
Trustees for the library were Miss Katherine Woodhams – Treasurer, W.S. Bolt – Secretary, D.E. Harrington – President, Mrs. Ella Maddox, George Holder, Harry Kretschman, and John Lugar.
Temporary quarters were found, a librarian secured, and book shower held which brought in 500 books. A permanent site downtown became available for $3,500 and Mr. R.H. Bolt became interested and solicited $1,510 in subscriptions from interested citizens. The Library Board borrowed the remainder, sold the dwelling and blacksmith shop off the lot, and bought a smaller building and moved it to the new location.
In 1934, a brick library of 24 x 32 feet with a basement was built as a P.W.A. project. The money for the materials had been accumulated by the Library Board over a 15 year period and labor costs were paid by the federal government as part of the effort to encourage economic recovery. In 1963, two rooms were added by the Otterbein American Legion.
At one time, there was a branch of the Otterbein Public Library located at Templeton in western Bolivar Township. The branch was managed by Nora Sheetz, Josephine Gick, and Nelle and Ezra Coats from 1919 until its close in 1967.
The library building in Otterbein remained until 2004 when the Library Board received a bond issue to tear it down and build a new facility. The new facility has 11,502 square feet and holds over 20,000 items in its collection. It is located on the corner of Main and First Streets, on the spot where the former library had been.
The Library’s growth is better reflected in the fact that 410 borrowers in 1910 had access to 1,046 items; while in 1971, there were 1,092 borrowers and almost 7,500 items available. As of 2012, the Library has 1,741 borrowers and 21,566 items available for the community.
The Otterbein Public Library serves Bolivar Township, the Town of Otterbein, and all teachers and students of the Benton County School Corporation. It also serves Medina Township in Warren County through a contractual agreement. According to the 2010 Census, the Town of Otterbein has a population of 1,619 residents.
[Adopted 10/7/1992; Revised 6/2012]