During the COVID-19 pandemic, spending time outdoors has become more vital to our well-being. And thanks to work based on the Library's Facility Master Plan and a generous donation from the FC Cincinnati Foundation, the West End Branch received an upgrade to its courtyard so community members can use the revived space and access the Library's WiFi and computers.
In 2019, the Library held listening sessions for the West End community as part of the systemwide planning process for its Facility Master Plan. “We heard loud and clear the need for increased access to technology and dynamic, engaging, and flexible spaces,” said Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Library’s Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director. “We’ve seen firsthand how the pandemic has exacerbated the need for greater access to computers and WiFi for job development, filing federal and local government forms, telehealth, voter registration, faxing, scanning, email, filing unemployment, and more.”
Concrete has already been poured and the renovations begun in the walled-in outdoor area just off the adult space in the branch. The courtyard is open and accessible with shade and space for individuals and families to enjoy. Funding from the FC Cincinnati Foundation has underwritten new technology solutions for customer use in the courtyard and throughout the branch. A new laptop cart enables customers to check out a laptop for a 60-minute computer session.
“Support from community partners like the FC Cincinnati Foundation to the Library’s Foundation helps to leverage and enhance the public dollars that the Library receives,” said Staci Dennison the Thomas W. Jones Executive Director of the Library Foundation. “Every dollar we receive to support our branches and the work they do to support our community is critical and expands what can be accomplished during this very challenging time.”
“Operating with reduced occupancy limits and limits on the duration of customer visits during the pandemic has forced us to get creative and we’re thrilled that FC Cincinnati Foundation is onboard to help us expand our reach for the West End Community,” said Branch Manager Keloni Parks. “The laptops allow us to increase access without exceeding our building occupancy limits. That means our kids are able to enjoy the computers without competing for computer time with adults.”
The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library has had to pivot several services during the pandemic. This new courtyard, along with access to laptops, allows customers more space at the Library to physically distance themselves while using the Library’s resources.
For more about what’s happening at the Library, call 513-369-6900 or visit www.CincinnatiLibrary.org/.