Library History

Reuben McMillan

Reuben McMillan, for whom the library was named, was apprenticed to a saddle maker as a boy, but independently pursued his education through books. He began teaching at the age of twenty and organized and taught in schools in Columbiana and Mahoning counties. He served as president of Ohio State Teachers Association and led the effort to create a free public library in Youngstown. *Oct. 7, 1820, is the date of birth of “Prof. Reuben McMillan” published in the Vindicator June 24, 1898, obituary.

Ohio Memory Database

View more historical photos and documents by visiting the Library’s page from the Ohio Memory database.

Pieces of the Past – Historical Sketches of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning Co. – pdf


Library Celebrates Reuben’s Birthday

Library Celebrates a Founding Father and Namesake on the 200th Anniversary of His Birth


Reuben-McMillan-Main-Library-History-posterThe Library is an institution of historic importance in Youngstown and Mahoning County, with origins as far back as the 1840s, initially through the schools. On Oct. 27, 1880, the Youngstown Library Association became official with the signing of Articles of Incorporation by a group which included Library namesake Reuben McMillan, then Superintendent of Schools. In his memory, the association’s name was changed to the Reuben McMillan Free Library Association on March 5, 1898, and has remained as such. Among the early signers were two Youngstown schoolteachers, two Physicians, and Reuben McMillan. Mr. McMillan devoted his life to the intellectual development of the city’s youth. Reuben McMillan also served as president of the Library’s Board of Trustees.

Originally, the two teachers, Miss Pearson and Miss Hitchcock, took charge of the 168 volumes. The library fell under the school board’s control and was housed in a building on West Federal Street until 1898.

Read More

Watch a video about Reuben’s history and the library>>



Happy Birthday, Reuben: Life in 1820


Reuben McMillan biography from Joseph Butler’s History of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley

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* The Library recognizes the date of Oct. 7, 1820, for the birth of Reuben McMillan. This date is published in the Vindicator obituary for Prof. Reuben McMillan on June 24, 1898, and in other sources, such as the “History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley Volume III” by Jos. G. Butler Jr. (Publishers American Historical Society, Chicago and New York) and The National Education Association 1899 annual meeting journal. The McMillan monument in Oak Hill Cemetery shows Oct. 20, 1820, as date of birth.