The first Napoleon library was started in 1906 by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and was run out of two parlors in a home.
The library moved five times over the next five years until the village council set aside $3,000 to buy the original home, which later became the site for the Napoleon Carnegie Library.
Andrew Carnegie was a wealthy industrialist who believed in helping others with his wealth. According to author Mary Ellen Armentrout, who wrote “Carnegie Libraries of Ohio: Our Cultural Heritage,” Carnegie believed that “after a man’s family was cared for, the rest should be given for the benefit of the public good.”
After selling his Carnegie Steel company to J.P. Morgan for $480 million in 1901, he devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy, including giving away $56 million to build 2,509 libraries worldwide, 1,689 of which were in the United States and 78 in Ohio, including Napoleon.
The River City received $10,000 to build its Carnegie Library on Woodlawn Avenue.
The Napoleon Carnegie Library was dedicated July 14, 1913. In 1960, the library board purchased the St. Paul Lutheran School property which was adjacent to the Carnegie site and, after renovating the school, moved the library there.
Library staff have continued to maintain the Carnegie building and until now it has been used as a book repository and storage.
A renovation project is currently being planned by the Napoleon Public Library Foundation to turn the Carnegie building into a community area with meeting rooms, private study areas and local history research room.
(Information courtesy of “Carnegie Libraries of Ohio: Our Cultural Heritage” by Mary Ellen Armentrout.)