The library first opened in a red brick building on Second Street in August, 1912.
The present building was dedicated May 16, 1971. With an exterior of off-white rock-faced marble brick and Alabama marble trim, the outstanding architectural features of this building included a free-standing marble arch at the Third Street entrance, exposed cantilever structural beams overhead, and a 55-foot picture window looking out onto Broad Boulevard. One of the guiding forces behind the plans for this new building was retired Akron Beacon Journal editor Ray C. Sutliff, the president of the library's board of trustees at the time. The Sutliff Meeting Room in the library is named in his honor.
1982 Renovation and Expansion
The lower level was expanded and renovated, adding the Chambers Meeting Room and the Chambers Magazine Room.
1989-1990 Renovation and Expansion
This two million dollar expansion and renovation project added 12,352 square feet to the library, bringing the total square footage to 53,154 square feet. It enabled the library to offer expanded services and collections, particularly in the audio-visual area, and it included:
- A new main circulation desk
- A 21-foot picture window trimmed in Vermont marble on the north side of the building
- A pavilion featuring a new circulation desk, a skylight, and a drive-up book drop
- The beautiful new children's department on the lower level
- The Graefe Meeting Room.
2005-2006 Renovation and Expansion
This $909,735 expansion and renovation of the library's entry level (the pavilion) was undertaken to improve the library's efficiency and expand our service. This project added 3,050 square feet to the library's existing 53,154 square feet. Major features of the project were:
- The addition of a drive-through window
- The replacement of the elevator
- The addition of space for staff work areas in the pavilion, freeing room on the main floor that would be converted into public space during the 2010-2011renovation
- The improvement of the circulation desk in the pavilion
- The addition of two new self-service checkout stations
- The improvement of the library information board