August 2017

About Us · Facilities and Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

At the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County our customers are at the center of everything we do. We put you first in every decision and interaction. We provide the services you need in facilities that are convenient and easy to use. We offer the up-to-date technology you expect. Our expert staff is here to assist you in a friendly, helpful and knowledgeable manner. We must manage our funding to fulfill this commitment to you, our customers.

Facilities Plan

As part of the new Strategic Plan, the Library is beginning the most significant building plan in its 160-year history. The result of 18 months of work by members of Senior Leadership and architects, the Plan will address many Facilities needs of your Library.

More information about the plan can be found in the Director’s Message in the current issue of Links, or by watching the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director and the Fiscal Officer discuss the plan on the August 6, 2017 edition of “Newsmakers” with Dan Hurley.

In October 2016 the Board approved the following:

  • Referring the matter of funding building maintenance/capital improvements to the Finance and Audit Committee for consideration.
  • The concept of an operations center for the Library including seeking a location to house selected services and consolidating Library Services into the South building. This decision was made after a space utilization/feasibility study by GBBN Architects showed we have enough space in the South building. Consolidation makes the Main Library safer by reducing the monitoring footprint for security. It makes it more convenient for families to use the Main Library, by putting departments used by kids, teens and adults into one building.
  • Authorizing staff to explore options to re-purpose the North building.

And in June 2017 took the following additional action:

  • Entering into a predevelopment services agreement with 3CDC. This agreement comes at no cost to the Library at this time. The Board will consider all options when deciding what to do with the building. That may include selling the building or adding retail, conference, and event space to be managed by the Library.
  • Moving forward with relocating all public services currently located in the North Building to the South Building.
  • Authorizing staff to explore options to re-purpose the North building.

So, what does this actually mean?

First, we have brought to the Board’s attention the need for maintenance work at many of our branch libraries. The $18 million list includes everything from roofs to furniture and can be found here. In addition, we identified the need for additional work at Main including elevators and HVAC. We also identified the need to replace branches in 4 communities: Greenhills, Mt. Healthy, Miami Township and Elmwood Place and to make 5 branches fully accessible: Madisonville, Walnut Hills, Price Hill, Cheviot and Wyoming. Further, we identified a need for a major renovation of the Hyde Park Branch and to renovate/access the auditorium at our Norwood Branch.

These projects bring the total funding needed for the work to $54 million. At our current pace of funding, it will take 27 years to complete this work. We don’t think that’s acceptable and we asked the Board to consider alternatives by having the Finance & Audit Committee review funding options. The full project list and cost estimate is here.

Their second action approved the concept of an operations center. Many businesses and public libraries use this model to put some support services at a separate facility, not their Main Library. We have identified numerous departments that could be relocated to an operations center including Shipping & Receiving, Sorting, all of Technical Services, the Virtual Information Center, Marketing and Facilities. Staff in these departments would be working in a location designed for their specific needs, include onsite parking, and ideally not be on B level. The Board approved this concept and we will begin looking for a suitable location.

With these support departments relocated to an operations center, significant space in the current Main Library becomes available allowing for the third item approved by the Board, consolidation of library services into the South Building to also move forward. A space utilization/feasibility study conducted by GBBN found that the space in the South Building is big enough for all of our services without eliminating any services. In fact, the idea of some possible changes would greatly improve our services. For example, placing the Children’s Learning Center in the same building as the Popular Library would make using the Main Library easier for families. Plus, building maintenance and security would improve with the smaller footprint.

Please note that staffing reductions are not part of this plan.

The final piece then is what to do with the North building. At the December 20 special meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to retain ownership of the North Building. The Library will re-purpose the North Building and maintain select services in that space. The decision will improve customer service and safety. There is no definite timeline for this process but it is expected to begin in 2018.