Soon after settling in the Connecticut Western Reserve, the pioneer settlers of Warren organized a library. The "Trumbull Library" consisted of about a thousand volumes and was located in a building near the present site of the Presbyterian Church on Mahoning Avenue. Mr. Charles White served as librarian for about thirty years.
In 1848, the books were given to the Warren Library Association, organized by Jacob Perkins, Dr. Julian Harmon, Orlando Morgan, Judge George M. Tuttle, and others. The new library was located on the second floor of the Van Gorder block on Market Street. The library was sustained by private subscription. At times, members of the WLA were asked to give a lecture for the benefit of the library. This library closed in 1854 and over 2000 books were sold at auction.
In 1877, Dr. Harmon and E.F. Mouton revived the old WLA, gathered a small collection of books, and established a new library in the office of Dr. Harmon. This was a subscription library with membership set at $1 per year. This organization continued until 1888 when the present Warren Library Association was formed.
On 12 July 1888, a new Warren Library Association was organized. The old association turned over 294 volumes to the new library opened in the office of P.L. Webb. On 31 July 1890, the WLA was incorporated under the laws of Ohio as a not-for-profit corporation. When the new courthouse was completed in 1897, the library was moved to a room in that building.
The continued growth of the library called for a new building. The purchase of the site for the new library was a gift from Judge Milton Sutliff, who died in 1878, and provided in his will a sum of $10,000 to be used for "the improvement instruction and enjoyment of the youths and children of Warren". On 19 March 1900, it was decided that the WLA would purchase the lot and buildings on High Street that held the law offices of Judge Sutliff. By 1902, the Association received an offer of $20,000 from Andrew Carnegie for the construction of the building. The new library building was dedicated on 5 February 1906.
In 1923, the library went under the control of the Board of Education and was administered by a Board of Trustees appointed by the School Board and approved by the WLA. The role of the Association changed from operator to its present role as custodian of the endowment funds.
In 1928, the addition to the library building known as the James Ward Packard reading room was dedicated as well as the Edward Sutliff Brainard Memorial room for young adults.
Generous funds were bequeathed to the WLA for the construction of a new and expanded library. Also held by the Association was the estate of Phebe T. Sutliff and an endowment for the creation of a museum in memory of her family and their work with the Underground Railroad.
The present library building opened on 4 April 1971. The WLA made funds available for a substantial part of the cost of the project. In November 1971, the Sutliff Museum opened on the second floor of the new building. This move gave the WLA a new role as operator of the Museum.
For many years the library Board of Trustees, who operated the library, and the WLA were on parallel boards and the same persons served on both. The establishment of the library as a county wide organization under the present name of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library in January 1983 changed the role of the WLA to its current position as an independent organization for the benefit of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library and the operator of the Sutliff Museum.
**The Sutliff Museum will be temporarily closed beginning 9/7/2021 for inventory and construction. Stay tuned to our website and social media channels for updates and information for our upcoming programs during this closure.