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Dayton Metro Library is a multi-branch library system serving 476,000 residents of the Dayton Metropolitan Area. It has 21 locations across the area (as well as two bookmobiles). Over 5.9 million items were borrowed in 2017. The Dayton Metro Library ranks in the top ten best libraries in the United States serving a population of over 250,000 by HAPLR. The Dayton Metro Library system is considered a county system with branches in cities and towns throughout Montgomery County, Ohio, but does not have branches in Centerville, Germantown, Oakwood, Riverside or Washington Township. All are serviced by libraries of their own, save Riverside, various parts of which are geographically close to Dayton Metro Library locations, including Burkhardt, Electra C. Doren and Huber Heights.
Library service in Dayton began in 1805 with the Social Library Society of Dayton. The Society was also the first library to be incorporated in Ohio. The Society was dissolved in 1821 and books were sold at auction.
In 1847, the Dayton Library Association was established. This lasted until 1860 when it merged with the Public School Library, founded in 1855. In 1887 it was organized as a school district library. A new building was opened in Cooper Park in January 1888. Bookmobile service began in October 1923. In 1948, the library changed in legal form from a school district library to a county district library.
In November 1956, the library officially changed its name to the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library. A new $2.3 million building was constructed for the Main Library in 1960, with groundbreaking taking place on August 29. The new building, adjacent to the old building (since razed), opened on March 26, 1962, and is still in use today (albeit with renovations done in 1987 and 1998–2000). The Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library name stayed on until June 19, 2002, when it officially changed its name to the Dayton Metro Library. A new logo and website were unveiled in January 2003. (source of library history: compiled from Dayton Metro Library Personnel Manual, June 2005) Another new website was unveiled in December 2014, featuring a new logo, overall new design and a number of new functionalities.
In November 2012, Dayton, Ohio area voters passed Issue 70, a $187 million bond issue covering building and renovation, with a vote of over 60% support. The project will allow for a completely renovated main branch of the library, expansion and/or remodeling and renovation on a number of existing branches, entirely new facilities for certain locations, and the consolidation of certain underperforming and outdated facilities with larger, modernized branches. The Dayton Daily News reported on this levy and said, “the plan would change libraries from “books and bricks” into community centers designed to provide traditional library services, as well as the latest technology.”  The renovated and new facilities were originally expected to be completed by year-end 2017, though delays in construction and property acquisition have moved this back to at least late 2020. On March 20, 2013, it was announced that a re-examination of the plan had determined that in certain cases new libraries could be built rather than expanding or renovating certain branches, without increasing the cost of the plan. As such, it was determined that the Brookville, Miamisburg, New Lebanon, Northmont and Trotwood Branches would all be moved to new buildings, rather than being renovated/expanded.
Under the ten-year bond issue, Issue 70 (also known as "Libraries for Tomorrow"), passed by voters, the branch structure will be modified as follows:
At one time, borrower's cards used at Dayton Metro Library use the nearly 40-year-old Codabar barcode format, with the symbol 'A' preceding and following the account number in the barcode proper. As of at least the early 2000s, all cards issued begin with the sequence 10060 or 10061, followed by 8 digits, with the exception of online-only cards, which begin with the sequence 10065.
As of 2012, the Dayton Metro Library's catalogue operates under the Polaris system, but had previously used Horizon from 2003 onwards, which was no longer offering software updates. Prior to this, it had used DRA from 1985.