Lane Public Library, 300 North Third Street, Hamilton. Clark Lane (1823-1907) donated the octagon brick library to Hamilton because he believed it "desirable to have a pleasant place or resort, where citizen and stranger alike, can have a cheap, comfortable and instructive evening's pastime." The industrialist -- who came to Hamilton as a blacksmith -- also expected library patrons to observe "cleanliness, genteel deportment, (and) a reasonable regard for property." The $10,000 library opened Oct. 20, 1866, as a reference library. It started with an inventory of books valued at $3,000. Historian Stephen Cone, who knew the industrialist, said Lane selected "a collection of nearly 2,000 volumes of choice literature."
In November 1867, Lane offered to donate the library to the city -- on the condition that the city operate and support it. When he discovered Ohio law prevented such charity, Lane lobbied the Ohio General Assembly for special legislation which permitted cities to accept libraries as gifts. The library question went before Hamilton voters in a special election and won community support. (446 for, 276 against). While legalities were being settled, Lane paid its operating costs, and Miss Emma Lane, a niece, managed the library.
Feb. 24, 1868, Lane conveyed the property to the city "under certain conditions," including: (a) that it shall be "free to all classes of persons of proper age and demeanor," and (b) "that there shall be kept a liberal file of news, scientific and literary periodicals."
Subsequently, the library established branches in Hamilton, Fairfield and Oxford, plus bookmobiles and other services. (See Lane-Hooven House, Butler County Children's Home, Village Green and Smith Library of Regional History.)