Now that the dog days of summer are behind us and autumn is in the air, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of pleasant weather by spending time outside at the Library. From StoryWalks® to librarian-led events, outdoor spaces provide a safe space for socially distanced fun, learning, and community.
We selected eight beloved branches with outdoor spaces and asked customers on social media to vote for their favorites. While we love them all, the winner of the bracket challenge is...(cue the drumroll please) the Madeira Branch!
Read on to learn more about how Madeira and the other branches are maximizing their lawns, patios, and gardens to keep minds and imaginations soaring and exploring.
Set back on the hillside off of Miami Avenue, the Madeira Branch’s architecture is as individual as its outdoor spaces. Senior Children’s Librarian Miss Debbie’s favorite part is the butterfly garden created by retired librarian Bess Sebranski.
“It was created to attract monarch butterflies and other types of butterflies and help them on their migratory journey. Each year we add a bit more to the garden,” said Miss Debbie. “The kids help plant it with involvement from the Civic Garden Center. The Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District comes and talks with the kids about butterflies' needs.”
Madeira's sidewalks are used for chalk art and science experiments, while the yard space out back hosts crafts, nature programs, daily Movers & Shakers events for toddlers, and even the occasional farm animal visit. “You name it, we’ve done it out here,” said Miss Debbie. “It’s a beautiful space.”
With an engaging StoryWalk® and a patio for activities, Mariemont’s outdoor space delivers.
“We are so excited to be using our outdoor space for craft programs, book clubs, and soon, Memory Café,” said Branch Manager Kelly Hartman. “Everyone is hungry for in-person (though socially distanced) events. Also, some of our book club members just don’t want to do virtual sessions, even with tech coaching. Staff have long wanted to use our beautiful patio and grounds so customers can be at the library and enjoy the great outdoors.”
Thanks to a generous donation from the FC Cincinnati Foundation, the West End Branch is the newest library location to go outside.
"The new outdoor space has been a great addition," said Library Services Assistant Marshall Grosardt. "In tandem with the new laptops, the new outdoor space increases our occupancy and gives our community more access to online resources."
Senior Library Services Assistant Janie Jones agrees. "The outdoor space has given us the chance to serve the community in a fresh way during the pandemic. They can still use our resources and be out in the fresh air. It’s also given us a chance to host events without intruding on our capacity limit, such as when we hosted Dani McClain, the Writer-In-Residence."
The Sharonville Branch hosts outdoor storytime two times a week in the front of the building and an all-ages craft time once a week on the back patio.
"We love our outdoor spaces because they are so naturally pretty," said Teen Librarian Miss Siobhan. “We have beautiful trees and windows. It’s so nice to spend time in the spaces we often only have time to look at through the window during the day. The kids love it too!"
As individuals and families come out of the Green Township Branch, they can make a right on the ramp and it leads them directly to the StoryWalk® which curves around the building ending at the back patio.
"Not only do families of all ages enjoy the outdoors, walking together, but also engaging in a story and songs, which encourages reading skills and conversation," said Senior Children’s Librarian Pamela Healy. "Once at the back patio they can play an I Spy window game, and other window activities. This makes for a great family outing on the green of Green Township Branch."
The Harrison Branch is almost completely surrounded by open green spaces.
"We are fortunate at Harrison to have several different areas, whether that be our large parking lot, several different shady areas around the building, or even on the front sidewalk after hours to host outdoor programs," said Branch Manager Michelle Elliot. "It is so nice to be able to fit the event with the right space. We have been able to offer book club and gaming programs on the sidewalk, and families have been able to enjoy the shade as they listen to some stories out on the grass."
Northside uses all available outdoor spaces from its grassy front yard to the little-used side parking lot to offer everything from ripe tomatoes, water for dogs, arts and crafts, a StoryWalk®, and more.
"Our programs include the standard storytimes, book clubs, knitting groups, and family STEM," said Branch Manager Sarah Schellenger. "Our outdoor farm field trip, with Children's Librarian Miss Marni in a cow costume stole the show this summer! I also highly recommend every branch invest in a bubble machine."
From chalk painting in the parking lot, storytimes in the "backyard" and using their windows to do fun "walk-and-find" activities with kids, the Symmes Township Branch has several versatile outdoor spaces.
"The areas that are paved and flat make safety easier. The pillars don’t move so that makes for easy seating," said Miss Anna, Senior Children’s Librarian.