Library service in Ashtabula County began in 1813 with the establishment of the Ashtabula Social Library Association. It was a subscription library, which means that patrons were assessed an annual fee which qualified them to borrow materials from the Library. Indian Creek Library, which later became Geneva Public Library, was established in 1832.
The Ashtabula Library’s first home was a re-purposed building at the corner of Elm and 47th, but by 1903 Andrew Carnegie the steel magnate had given $15,000 for construction and a permanent home had been built at 335 West 44th. There were additions and renovations in 1959, 1984, and 1992, creating the main library building still in use today. A major fire during the last renovation project pushed the Library into temporary quarters, and people from around the U.S. donated 30,000 books after a national newspaper columnist wrote about the disaster.
Meanwhile, by 1910 Carnegie, who funded construction of literally thousands of libraries world-wide, had given $10,000 and a permanent home for Geneva Library was built on West Main. It was the Library’s home until 1997 when the new building was constructed on Sherman Street.
By 1955, changes in the state laws governing libraries had enabled Ashtabula and Geneva Libraries to become Ashtabula County District Library, ACDL for short. Ohio Revised Code (3375.19) defines a county district library as a library composed of all local, exempted village, and city school districts in the county which are not within the territorial boundaries of an existing township, school district, municipal, county district, or county free public library. County-wide bookmobile service was established in 1958.
Today, ACDL serves all or part of most of the county’s townships and approximately 63 percent of the county’s total population, governed by a board of seven Trustees — three appointed by the Court of Common Pleas and four appointed by the County Commissioners. Funding comes nearly 95 percent through a share of the county’s share of the 1.97% of the State's total general tax revenues earmarked for libraries.