Library Memories: The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

In 2006, I moved to Northern Kentucky of the Greater Cincinnati Area.  For a couple of years, I made the trek across the river via the Brent Spence bridge to work in downtown Cincinnati.  One of my first tasks outside of work was to find the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  A couple of blocks away, I was pleased to find it to be a large building that spanned two blocks with the magazine area crossing over 9th Street.  It reminded me of the Atrium at Circle Center Mall in Indianapolis.  While most libraries have a drive-up drop-off to return books, CPL also has a drive-up to pick up books.

A sculpture of giant books with a waterfall graces the entrance on Vine St.  Inside, the building has three floors.  Taking stairs or elevators to the second floor, crossing through the magazine area, then taking a spiral staircase back to the first floor brings you to the children’s section.  The second floor has a huge computer lab that is continuously utilized by thousands of patrons.

I discovered an interesting aspect of CPL when I was looking for a copy of Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons for my book club (which was still in Indianapolis).  The on-line catalogue stated that CPL had the book and that it was in.  It also had a message that said to see the Information Desk.  This was the first of many times in which I requested an either out-of-print or obscure book from the Information Desk and they brought it up from what I imagined to be a dark and dusty basement.  I’m glad they were able to keep these books as opposed to throwing them away.  My imagination would sometimes get the better of me in wondering what kind of secret place these books were kept.

For a brief time, I worked in Blue Ash (north side of Cincy) and became a regular visitor of it’s branch.  While I was working here, a colleague of mine was listening to a group called The Little Willies.  After listening for a while, we figured out many of the lead vocals were by Norah Jones.  Not thinking I would be able to find this music on CD at the library, I looked it up any way.  Sure enough, there it was at the Blue Ash branch.  I picked it up at lunch and enjoyed listening to it for several weeks.

My favorite part of the downtown branch of CPL was the reading garden.  Set up with garden tables and chairs, trees and fountains, while the weather was warm (and sometimes when it wasn’t), I would spend several lunch hours a week there, getting away from the hectic grind.  What I liked best about the garden was the tall vine covered brick wall that surrounded it, keeping out the busyness of downtown.

I stopped working in downtown Cincy in 2009.  Since then, I haven’t been as frequent of visitor to CPL.  There are still a few out-of-print books that they have that I want to get.  Two of them are childrens books written by Chaim Potok:  The Tree of Here and The Sky of Now.  I’ve looked for these books for years and could never find them, then one day I looked on-line at CPL and there they were with the message “See Information Desk”.

Here’s one last picture:  Baseball and books – what could be better?

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4 responses to “Library Memories: The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

  1. I love the description of the library. It’s a place where one could get lost in a book, repeatedly. Your description of the “dark and dusty basement” reminds me of a TBS series called The Librarian. In the series Noah Wilder “discovered” and added to many treasures in the caverns of the Metropolitan Public Library. It would be very different from the “dark and dusty” area you described. It’s a fun series that is entertaining and pretty much kid friendly. They are more fun if they are watched in order.

  2. Hi Sonja! Thanks for the comment! It’s good to hear from you! I have not heard of The Librarian but it sounds like a great series that I need to watch. I wonder if it’s on Netflix. We’ve enjoyed watching certain series all at once. We’ve watched Monk, Psych, and Dr. Who (the new ones) and loved them. The Cincinnati Library is very nice. It took a little getting used to when I first moved here. They have a lot of art exhibits. A couple of years ago, they had a Charles Schultz exhibit with original Charlie Brown, etc. drawings.

  3. Wasn’t there another sculpture on top of the book sculpture at one time. I remember there being a sculpture of one of the Alice In Wonderland characters like the Mad Hatter on top of the books. Does anyone know the history of the book sculpture. And I think they added the second set of book son the other side.

    • Glenn, an Alice in Wonderland sculpture would have been great! I would be interested in seeing that and hearing the inside story about the sculpture, also.

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Dale

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