The Ashtabula County District Library System began as a subscription library association in Ashtabula City in 1813. It was incorporated in 1896 as the Ashtabula Free Public Library.
From the February 1902 issue of Library Journal: 'Ashtabula (O.) P.L. By the will of the late Maria Conklin, of Ashtabula, the entire estate of the testator is bequeathed to "erect and construct in whole or in part a suitable building for the Free Public Library to be known as the "Conklin Library Building." The value of the estate is not given.'
The building located on 44th Street was built in 1903 as the "Carnegie Conklin Library", with funds both from Maria Conklin's bequest and from Andrew Carnegie.
A change in State Library law permitted the Ashtabula Free Public Library to become a county district library in 1953. An addition was added in 1958 and a new entrance and elevator in 1984.
During a million dollar remodeling project, a fire destroyed the second floor. The library, relocated for eighteen months, received national exposure from a syndicated Chicago columnist, who wrote a column to his readers about the fire. As a result, over 30,000 books were donated from all over the United States. The renovated building was reopened in March of 1992.