Dayton Walk of Fame: Electra C. Doren



Claim to fame: If you love the Dayton area’s wonderful network of libraries, you have this woman to thank. Doren deserves credit for building the strong public library system that Montgomery County residents enjoy today. A librarian, innovator and suffragist, she established right here in Dayton one of the first library training schools in the nation, library book catalogs and bookmobile services to outlying areas.

Early days: Doren began working for the library at the age of 18 and eventually became head librarian. She left Dayton in 1905 to serve as director of the Western Reserve University Library School.

Why we love her: Doren returned to the Gem City to help rebuild Montgomery County’s library services after the 1913 flood. She led library staff and volunteers in salvaging damaged items and helped the library reopen to the public just three months after the waters receded.

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Key accomplishments: She served as chief librarian for the Dayton Public Library from 1896-1905. During her tenure, the first branch libraries were started. She formed a school library department — the foundation to classroom libraries and teacher collections provided by the Dayton Metro Library today. She established a library training school at the Dayton Public Library, which was only the second program of its kind in the U.S. She oversaw a major reorganization from 1896-1899, during which all items were first classified under the Dewey Decimal System. After the reorganization, shelves were opened to the public for the first time. She was one of the founders of the Ohio Library Association (now the Ohio Library Council) and served as its president in 1906. She also held prominent offices in the American Library Association, including vice president.

Interesting fact: Doren was a member of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and donated her own collection of primary sources to the library — which helped form the basis for the largest collection of suffrage materials in the nation.

Did you know? One of the branch’s of the Dayton Metro Library system is named for her. The Electra C. Doren branch is located at 701 Troy St., Dayton.

Inducted: 1997

How to visit the Walk of Fame: See it in person on West Third Street in Dayton between Broadway and Shannon.

How to visit the Dunbar House: Schedule a tour through Dayton History at Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

Source: Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame, Wright Dunbar Inc.; Dayton Metro Library; Women of Library History

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