The Downtown Main Library serves as the hub of the Library system as well as the "neighborhood library" for thousands of downtown workers and residents. With one of the finest collections of materials among U.S. public libraries, the Downtown Main Library attracts more than one million users annually. The Downtown Main Library also houses administrative and support services offices.
Building the Next Generation Library
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is working with the community and staff to make your public library better than ever! In 2018 the taxpayers of Hamilton County approved a 1 mil levy that will provide the Library with $19M a year from 2019 – 2028, for a total of $190 million. Throughout 2019 the Library engaged with community and staff to create a Facilities Master Plan. Completed in December 2019, the plan is used to guide a multi-year facilities improvement project we call Building the Next Generation Library.
The 21st century
In order to better meet the rapidly changing needs of customers, a dynamic new service model emphasizing convenience and increased access to services and technological applications was implemented in 2007. Under the new plan, resources previously divided among five Downtown Main Library subject departments were drawn together into the Information and Reference Department. The Popular Library was created by merging the Fiction and Films and Recordings Departments and the Atrium Collection. In addition, four new departments were formed: the Genealogy and Local History Department, TechCenter, TeenSpot, and the William Hueneke Homework Center. In 2015, the MakerSpace opened in the north building of the Downtown Main Library.
In 1995, work began on an addition to expand the Downtown Main Library across Ninth Street, with a dramatic four story bridge linking the North and South Buildings. The opening of the addition, known as the North Building, took place on January 15, 1997 and renovation of the existing building (the South Building) began immediately thereafter. Renovation of the South Building was completed in December 1997.
In 1982, an addition was constructed encompassing the entire block formed by Eighth, Ninth, Vine and Walnut Streets, forming one of the largest public library buildings in the U.S. While the 1955 building was remodeled to create one integrated facility, several original touches such as the serpentine brick wall surrounding the garden, the Venetian glass tiles on the columns and central service core, and the memorial plaque honoring Hamilton County veterans, remain and can be seen today. The 1982 addition wraps around the 1955 building and forms an impressive atrium, providing Downtown Main Library users with a view of all five floors of the building, including closed stack areas.
The Library occupied this site until 1955, when the Library opened the first post-war main library building in the U.S. Located at the corner of Eighth and Vine Streets, the building was designed by noted Cincinnati architect Woodie Garber and was widely recognized for its contemporary design and use of open space. The 1955 building, dedicated to Hamilton County residents who were killed in World War I, World War II and the Korean War, today serves as the cornerstone of the present Downtown Main Library complex.
The Downtown Main Library has occupied a prominent position in downtown Cincinnati since 1874, when a new building was constructed on the west side of Vine Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets. Labeled the most magnificent public library building in the country, the library featured one element similar to today’s library: a towering atrium with a skylight ceiling.