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August 2009

What’s New · Cincinnati’s Public Library Once Again Among Nation’s Top Ranked Libraries

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid Greg Edwards (Library Services Director), Kim Fender (Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director)
and the Crutcher family

When Mario and Ambia Crutcher of Clifton visited the Main Library this past Monday to sign their youngest son up for a library card, they were completely surprised to be greeted with balloons, a Library totebag, and a “Got Books” t-shirt to celebrate the occasion. Theirs marked the 10 millionth item, borrowed in 2009, yet we’re only midway through the year!

It was a doubly special day for the Crutchers, whose two-year-old son, J'amir, wasted no time making use of his very first library card. Both J'amir and his brother Dre-don, age seven, love to read Dr. Seuss books and found several choices to take home with them on this eventful day. Thanks to Library users like the Crutchers, Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings recently ranked the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County among the 10 best public libraries in its category for the fourth consecutive time! Among the more than 9,000 libraries around the country from which the data is compiled, Cincinnati’s system is one of 83 that serves a population of more than 500,000.

But the number of items loaned is just one of the gauges for ranking how Cincinnati’s library “stacks up” nationally. The ratings and scoring compare 15 different input and output measures focusing on collection, reference service, staffing, and number of visitors, as well as circulation per capita. Usage in all service areas of Cincinnati’s library—from program attendance to use of online resources—reached record highs in 2008 and is even higher year to date in 2009, despite a significant decrease in funding to support the surge.

“If not for the thousands of customers we serve each year, we could not achieve such high rankings,” said Library Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director Kim Fender. “Continued usage has made us great, and it takes a great staff to serve the increasing demands, especially with the shortfalls in funding that we continue to face. Since 2000, our budget has been steadily shrinking, while demand continues to rise.”

Fender added, “While it’s nice to be recognized for our excellence and we appreciate the accolades, meeting the demands of the community is our top priority. But without additional funding our nationally ranked Library, which has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top, will be in jeopardy. The Library we all know and love will be forced to dramatically reduce its resources and services at a time when they are needed most.”

Watch the related story on WCPO.