Domonkas Branch History

The city of Sheffield Lake has been served by the Lorain Public Library since 1940. The community was served by a bookmobile for the first 22 of those years.

1940-1963-Lorain Public Library provides bookmobile service to residents of Sheffield Lake.

1960-Sheffield Lake Kiwanis Club drive raises $3,100 to equip a branch library.

1962-Budget Commission of Lorain County allocates $10,000 to the Lorain Public Library to establish a branch in Sheffield Lake.

Jan. 20, 1963-Branch opened at Shoreway Shopping Center. Friends of Sheffield Lake Library organized.

1963-Frances Sutman serves as librarian.

Fall 1963- Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Domonkas donate $100,000 toward the construction of branch library. City of Sheffield Lake provides $36,000 toward the site. Lorain Public Library Board of Trustees provides $12,000 to equip the new building.

Summer 1964- Library moves to present location.

Nov. 8, 1964-Building dedicated. The library building, built on land provided by the city of Sheffield Lake, was equipped with a meeting room that could seat 50 people. When the 4,727 square foot building opened, book holdings totaled slightly more than 6,100 titles.

1965-Rachel Enright takes over as librarian.

1969-Rachel Enright dies.

1970-Virginia Collier becomes librarian. Friday hours added. 29,334 books circulate.

1971-34,002 items circulate.

1972-37,945 items circulate.

1973-Ruth E. Domonkas meeting room named. Bust of Stephen Domonkas donated. Stephen Domonkas donates shelving unit allowing the collection to be shifted and rearranged. 37,564 items circulate.

1974- Children use real voting booths to vote for their favorite books. Charlotte's Web wins! (photo, lists, votes, voting record book) 37,821 items circulate.

1975- Budget crisis hits library resulting in moratorium on new book purchases, shortened hours and page position cut. 35,387 items circulated.

1976- 2-mill levy fails. Some hours are added to schedule. 31,351 items circulated.

1977-Hours cut again. Leased books make an appearance and prove to help with circulation and patron needs when budget becomes tight. Mildew attacks books during August. 26,672 items circulated.

1978-Two different levy attempts fail. Weekly delivery to branch begins. Card catalog undergoes division into Author-Title and Subject. Mildew attacks again during summer. 24,350 items circulated.

1979-Jan. 5, 1979-benefactor Stephen Domonkas dies. June -1 mill levy passes! Hours increased from 15 to 23 hours per week. 28,113 items circulate.

1980- 100 people came to a library program where "The Making of Star Wars" was shown. Hours increased to 30 per week. 30,562 items circulated.

1981- Preschool story times were reinstated. Lynda Kozar started. 33,769 items circulated.

1982- Videos were added to the collection. Highest circulation to date 42,498.

1983-47,286 items circulated.

1984- A computer arrives at Domokas, a TRS-80. The levy is renewed. Domonkas is renovated, painting is done and carpet laid. Karen Mitchell started as custodian. Circulation continues to grow with 50,807 items circulated.

1985- April 2- Virginia Coller retired. May- Mary Elizabeth Schober begins as Domonkas librarian. Patrons are able to use the new computer. Hours increased to 40.5 per week. Kathy Burrill hired. Collectiion grew to 20,734 items. Mrs. Domonkas died in July, leaving a trust to the Domonkas branch for improvements and expansion of the building.

1986- Open 46 hours a week now. The roof was repaired and landscaping added. Betsy Bagstad joins Domonkas staff. Circulation continues to grow with 70,042 items checked out.

1987- Army Core of Engineers state there is no possibility of erosion threatening the building in the near future. Midge Liles starts working at Domonkas. 25,575 items in the collection with a circulation of 76,813.

1988- Lots of technical changes take place. A new phone system is added as well as an additional computer and a new fax machine. Delivery increases (to daily). Domonkas begins a new circulating material with CD's. Circulation reaches 81,091 items.

1989-Domonkas celebrates 25 years of library service to the community to Sheffield Lake. Hours increase to 52 per week. Videos and books-on-tape become part of Domonkas collection. A 2-year levy is passed. By March 1989, construction began on the 3,700 square foot addition, which allowed for computerization of library services, expanded reference and audio-visual areas and provided space for expansion of the collection. The entire collection moves twice within the building. The addition was opened for service in November 1989, once construction is completed there is wonderful windows looking onto the lake and a big party. Nov.5 is declared Domonkas Library Day in Sheffield Lake.

1990- The end of the year finds staff inputting data on the CLEVNET system. A large section of land to the north of the library is lost to erosion. 95,022 items circulate.

1991- The 1-mill levy is renewed. Circulation begins using CLEVNET on May 1. The online catalog is ready in August. Erosion takes 25 feet of shore. Circulation tops 100,000 for the first time.

1992- The U.S. Corps of Engineers issues a report that the Domonkas shore will be on their 1993 construction agenda. Blanca Ortiz starts at the branch. There are 34,094 items in the Domonkas building and annual circulation is 116,695.

1993- A donation is made to Domonkas from the estate of Constance Bickers to be used to add special materials and provide special programming during years of tight budgets. The collection grows to 36,800 items. Circulation is 131,079 for the year.

1994-The U.S. Corps of Engineers completes the rubble breakwall. Automatic doors are installed. Two PCs are added, one for patrons and one for reference. Records are no longer available. Circulation reaches 128,896.

1995- 124,459 items circulate.

1996- A 1-mill renewal and .538 mill additional levy both fail in the spring but pass in August. Mary Elizabeth Schober retires. Patty Marsh is hired as a librarian for the branch.

1997-Hours increase to 56 during the school year and 52 during the summer. Technology continues to grow with a PC for patrons to search the internet provided through OPLIN. The staff gets a PC on the reference desk. Sharon Sheehan begins working at Domonkas. Karen Mitchell leaves. Circulation reaches a new high with 135,167 items going out.

1998-Betsey Bagstad leaves Domonkas for the Main Library. Lilian Esparra is hired and later leaves for Main also. The parking lot addition is started and completed, making 41 parking spaces available. New landscaping was completed and a sign to display library events concluded the project. Circulation reaches 146,928.

The Sheffield Lake community has been very supportive of library services by passing operating levies. The most recent operating levy was passed on May 3, 2016. This levy money supplements library support received through the state’s general tax revenue. The local operating levy helps the library to provide the staff, materials, and technology that support the Domonkas Branch.

The Domonkas Gift

Stephen Domonkas, owner of car dealerships in the Cleveland area and in Sandusky, and his wife, the former Ruth McVeigh, had a love for the city of Sheffield Lake and its lakeshore. The Domonkas Branch Library building is a living tribute to their love for the community.

Mr. and Mrs. Domonkas made their home on the lakeshore of Sheffield Lake in 1929 when they built Casa del Mar. Mrs. Domonkas once said, "We don’t have a family. We found Sheffield Lake, watched it grow and wanted to do something good for it."

When asked about his donation for the construction of the library, Mr. Domonkas replied, “I have always been interested in education. A library is the best medium for educating youngsters and adults - you’re never too old to learn. Actually the motive in back of this whole thing is that I am glad to do this for the group of people I live with.”