The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County had another outstanding year in 2010. The Library once again stood out among its peers (ranked among the top by the library field’s four leading indicators). Usage across the system increased over last year’s record-breaking figures, while the number of Library cardholders rose to nearly 350,000. The Library received two of the largest gifts in its history and a sizeable grant to improve technology. While 2010 brought much to be proud of to Cincinnati’s public library, the need for its services has never been greater. As the Library looks to the future, addressing these needs is a top priority in the implementation of its new strategic plan.
Library Received Top Ratings
Our Library was the only one in the U.S. to be rated in the top 10 of ALL four of the library field’s most prestigious lists: the biggest collection, busiest, and best in the country according to both Hennen’s and the Library Journal’ Star ratings.
- Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings ranked us 7th among libraries serving populations of 500,000 or more.
- Library Journal designated us as a 4-Star Library.
- Circulation of more than 16.3 million ranked us as the 10th busiest in the nation.
- With a collection of 9.2 million items, we are among the top 10 U.S. libraries for collection size.
Trends in 2010
Use of free downloadable ebooks and audiobooks was up nearly 55%. We expect to see this trend continue as the popularity of e-readers keeps growing.
The Main Library had an amazing year, loaning more than 5 million items for the first time ever.
The number of visits to the Main Library and 40 branch libraries increased 5% reaching nearly 6.5 million.
Traffic on the Library’s website also grew as online resource uses reached 65 million.
Major Gifts Gratefully Received
The Library Foundation received $1 million from the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Family Fund. This gift will become the cornerstone for a permanent endowment fund for the Library. The late Mr. Stern, served on the Library Board of Trustees for 42 years.
Michael Dever’s donation of Parkview Manor, built in 1896 by Samuel Hannaford & Sons for George “Boss” Cox, will provide an opportunity to relocate the Clifton Branch Library to a much larger, historic home. This gift gives us the opportunity to preserve a historic site and also meet the needs of the Clifton community, which long ago outgrew its present location. The Library will be raising funds for the Clifton Branch relocation project, as well as adding to the Library Foundation’s endowment, under the leadership of its new Executive Director Missy Deters.
A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Opportunity Online Hardware Grant provided more than $160,000 to buy new computers for 17 branches. The additional computers and improved technology have been heavily used for everything from filling out online job applications to social networking. In response to input from Library users, computers at the remaining 23 branches were also upgraded.
Customer Service Enhancements
Among the other customer service enhancements implemented in 2010 were unveiling of Fifty-Five+, a new website for adults 55 and older; increased availability of new materials; and wireless printing, enabling laptop users to print from the Library’s printers. These improvements allow the Library to continue to meet the changing needs of our community.
State funding for our Library continued to decline in 2010, falling another 6%, to bring the total decline since 2008 to 22.7%, a loss of an additional $11 million in annual funding. Fortunately, the Library received the first year of revenue from the local tax levy, which was approved overwhelmingly by Hamilton County voters in November 2009. That $19.7 million was critical in offsetting the continuing decline in state funding.
Whether improving our facilities or our collection, we’ll continue to look for better ways to meet our customers’ needs while making our services convenient and easy to use!