A message from Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Library Director

The Library spent 2019 working diligently on our Facilities Master Plan, opens a new window, a project that will provide a roadmap for our Next Generation Libraries, opens a new window. Over the summer I attended community engagement sessions across the county hearing from thousands of residents and Library users. Dedicated members of our Library team and I shared important information about our current facilities and heard from community members about their vision for our future Libraries and Library services.  

During those sessions, we heard from visitors and users of our Downtown Main Library. This is by far the largest facility in our Library system, housing nearly half of our total public space. We invited community members and staff to provide feedback on the Downtown Main Library including how best to re-envision the north and south buildings to meet evolving community needs. One consistent piece of feedback was a request to reconfigure the Vine Street entrance to create a more welcoming space.  

I grew up in Cincinnati and visited the Downtown Main Library throughout my lifetime. I can personally confirm that our Vine Street plaza is not as inviting as it should be. To me, it never has been. It is clear that this entrance suffers from a less than ideal design—the narrow entranceway creates challenges that we do not experience at the Walnut Street entrance, which is more open and, importantly, offers multiple pathways to the door.

Our intention is to change this feeling of the Downtown Main Library’s Vine Street entrance. Draft recommendations for this concept shared with our Facility Master Plan Community Advisory Council in October included three recommendations in response to community feedback: reconfigure the Vine Street entrance, improve way-finding in the Downtown Main Library buildings, and renovate approximately one-fifth of the interior space to address changing customer needs, such as requests for quiet study spaces and meeting rooms. These are exciting changes that build on the strengths of our Library while updating and improving the design elements to adhere to more modern knowledge about urban design and planning that supports mixed, safe, and welcoming use of impressive public spaces like our Downtown Main Library.

Our final version of the Facilities Master Plan will be completed by the end of December and shared with the public. Implementation of the Plan will begin in 2020. We are committed to contributing to the overall health and vibrancy of the community, including downtown, by crafting a collaborative vision for the Next Generation Library. We will continue to talk with our customers and community members as our facilities and services evolve both at the Downtown Main Library and across the county.  

Thank you to our community for their support, including the ongoing, essential funding support we receive through local tax levies. We will need the help of everyone in our community as all voices are important to ensure we are building a new generation of Libraries fit to serve a new generation of users and needs. I can’t wait to continue our work together!