In 1987 four Library Directors had a vision of creating a consortium of libraries to provide a "source for information, education, reading and research" in a more effective and economical manner through automation. The result of which later became the Central Library Consortium (CLC). Those Directors were George Needham of Fairfield County District Library, Carol Pelz of Grandview Heights Public Library, Bonnie Boggs of Pickerington Public Library and Jo Riegel of Wagnalls Memorial Library. By the spring of 1988 these four visionary libraries acknowledged their commitment to the automation project.
On March 28, 1988 an application for a Federal grant was made for assistance in the creation of a consortium and its automation needs. Some of the results and benefits expected stated in the grant were:
"A fully functioning Consortium automation system will enable the user of any participating library to identify and locate the resources available within the service area. It will speed interlibrary loan, allowing users faster and more efficient access to those materials."
"The system will provide the user with a greater range of materials by enabling the libraries to eliminate some of the redundancy in their collections. Funds saved through this efficiency can be redirected to provide more variety and less duplicate copies of expensive, infrequently used items."
"Eventually, the system will allow users to access the database from their home or office computers, creating immediate interaction between the library and potential user."
By May 11, 1988 a final version of the Consortium Agreement was created and in June of 1988 was agreed upon by the member libraries. It was at that time the name "Central Library Consortium" CLC was first referred to.
During July 1988 a contract with the Unisys Corporation for computer automation equipment and the Public Automated Library System "PALS" library software was made. The next eighteen months the libraries went through the process of transferring there card cataloging records and automating the Acquisitions, Circulation, Serials and Catalog departments in preparation for staff and public access. The data automation/staff office room for CLC at that time was on the third floor of the Fairfield County District Library and was maintained by a staff of three.
By January 1990 the automation process was completed and with great fan fare in the member library communities was open for public use for the first time, but the libraries were still holding on to the paper card catalog for while "just in case". The local papers were promoting the automation as well. In the Columbus Dispatch of April 5, 1989, for example, and article promoting the upcoming automation of the Library; it stated "Under the partnership, people will have quicker access to a wider variety of materials, and the new system will save time for both librarians and patrons, Grandview Director Carol Pelz said."
Wayne Thomas joined the CLC as the first System Administrator July 13, 1992. He oversaw the operations of the CLC data center for seventeen years.
In the spring of 1995 the CLC signed a contract with the Dynix Corporation to provide up to date software for Library services and to meet the growing needs of the consortium library communities. A new site for CLC was selected in Lithopolis, Ohio in order to be more centralized to all of the member libraries and to reduce the cost of data communications. New CLC state of the art equipment was purchased from Data General and the data from the old system was converted during the fall of 1995. On February 9, 1996 the libraries began using the new Dynix system. At that same time the data communications between the libraries and CLC were upgrade to T1s which were provided by the State of Ohio through OPLIN and Internet services was offered to the public for the first time. Public Access Catalog dialup services were also made available. 1996 also brought the addition of two more libraries into the CLC membership: Pickaway Co. District Library (Jessica MacPhail Director), and Plain City Public Library (Sue Wilson Director)
The Fairfield County District Public Library was the first administrative library for CLC. (Rosemary Martin, Director.) In October of 1995 the administration of the CLC was given to Grandview Heights Public Library. (Carol Pelz Director)
On January 11, 1999 the CLC relocated to the new Community building located on the Wagnalls Memorial Foundation site. The move gave CLC a new Automation room for its expanding services, three offices and a training/meeting room. In 2013, CLC relocated its data center and office space to Gahanna, Ohio. This new space included a backup generator and humidity controlled environment to help provide reliable uptime for the services it provides to its members.
Also in 1999 the Pickaway Co. District Library added the Younkin Branch Library to their service area and in 2000 the Marysville Public Library (Pat Amis Director) and the Raymond Branch Library joined the CLC.
On May 19 2005 the CLC upgraded from the Classic Dynix text software that had been used for the past nine years to the more modern Horizon Graphic User Interface (GUI) software.
September 2006 Alexandria Public Library (Denise Shedloski Director) became the newest member of CLC.
In September 2012, the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Worthington Libraries and Southwest Public Libraries made the strategic decision to join the Central Library Consortium (CLC) in as members in 2013.
In April 2014, the Bexley Public Library, London Public Library and Upper Arlington Public Library joined the CLC.
In March 2018, the Delaware County District Library, Granville Public Library Association and the Pataskala Library joined the CLC.
Ryan McDonnell, of Marysville Public Library, was appointed chair of the Governing council January 1, 2008. Wayne Thomas retired in March, 2009, and the CLC hired its first Executive Director, Carol Lynn Roddy. The CLC migrated from the Horizon platform to Polaris Library Systems on November 17, 2009. After Carol Roddy's retirement, Wes Osborn took over as Executive Director on July 1, 2012.
The CLC still abides by its original precepts of maintaining and operating a computerized library network in order to promote resource sharing among member libraries; to increase access to electronic tools and databases for library patrons and staff; and to continue to provide a "source for information, education, reading and research" in the most effective and economical manner through automation. The CLC always strives to stay connected, creative and current. The CLC and its libraries are more than books. We focus on technology so libraries can focus on their patrons.