The Bethesda Public Library is an integral part of the fabric of the Bethesda, Ohio community, providing local access to books, computers, summer reading programs, as well as year round Children’s story time and book clubs for both young adults and adults alike. Established in 1936, the Bethesda Public library is the oldest branch in the Belmont County District Library system. On March 5, 1936, a group of Bethesda citizens consisting of one representative from each civic, fraternal, and religious organization gathered at the city hall and formed the Bethesda Public Library Association. At the time of organization, citizens of the community were called upon to participate in establishing our library by donating books, money, time and cooperation. Two book showers were held at which time books were presented to the library, and bake sales were held to make money for the library. For many years, the Library Association held Election Day bake sales to raise funds to help with library expenses. The Library Association, however, disbanded several years ago, bringing an end to these highly anticipated bake sales.
The community of Bethesda has always been a big supporter of the library. Prior to the passage of the Belmont County District Library’s levy in 2013, budget concerns arose resulting in a cutback of library hours and a huge reduction in the purchase of new materials. The adult book club stepped up and sponsored a soup, sandwich, and bake sale to help alleviate some of the financial strain. It was a huge success. Even after the passage of the levy, the group continues to donate time, energy and food for this sale each fall.
In 2005, the Bethesda Public Library moved into its current home at 112 North Main St., the old Bethesda American Legion building, which was purchased by the Martins Ferry Public Library. Volunteers helped apply layers of paint and converted the Legion’s old gun racks into Children’s display areas. The remodel also includes repurposing shelving and display cases from the Martins Ferry Public Library’s storage. The director of the Belmont County Public Library, Yvonne O. Myers, says she “established this new branch on a budget, and the result was the creation of a happy place. The two round tables were old and beat up, but a volunteer sanded them and restored them to their original beauty.” This is a testament to the many volunteer hours put forth by the Bethesda patrons and Martins Ferry Public Library staff in the formation of the new Bethesda Public Library.