New Online Exhibit Reveals History of All 41 CHPL Locations

Written by the Genealogy & Local History Department, Downtown Main Library

A treasure trove of local history is now available to view online in a new exhibit, "The History of CHPL." This free digital experience featuring high-resolution digital photos, illuminating interviews with former library staff, and original documentation, and more was compiled by the Library's Genealogy & Local History Department.

View this immersive experience that captures 170 years of rich history, spanning the historic Old Main library, the creation of the Downtown Main Library, the Library's Bookmobiles, the construction of the system's 40 branches, and the rich tradition of CHPL implementing new resources and technology to our customers.

View Exhibit

A Compilation of Rare, Historic Library Materials

The interactive, digital exhibit features dozens of original photos, documents, and more showcasing the history of the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library. Using these rare materials, the exhibit reveals CHPL's history through six sections: 

  1. Old Downtown Main Library
  2. New Downtown Main Library
  3. Bookmobiles
  4. Carnegie Branches
  5. Individual Branch Histories
  6. Innovative Technology

The exhibit also features videos with Library staff, sharing firsthand accounts of working at CHPL throughout its history.

See Select Exhibit Materials In Person at Downtown Main Library

A small sampling of photos and stories from "The History of CHPL" are now currently on physical exhibit just outside the entrance to the MakerSpace on the second floor of the Downtown Main Library. Visit the exhibit and see an in person glimpse to the full digital exhibit.

More Rare Looks at Local History

Step into the fascinating world of Cincinnati's history with even more online exhibits available on the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library's website.

  • Lafcadio Hearn: Journey through the life of 19th-century literary luminary Lafcadio Hearn, who once called Cincinnati home. This exhibit showcases original newspapers, handwritten letters, rare books, and more, providing insights into the literary, spiritual, and geographical explorations of this enigmatic figure.
  • Cincinnati Stories: Increasing Civic Awareness: Explore two decades of Cincinnati's civic landscape through "Local 12 Newsmakers." Watch full, unedited episodes hosted by Dan Hurley, shedding light on our local community's stories, challenges, and triumphs.
  • Cincinnati's Inclined Plane Railroads: Delve into Cincinnati's past when inclined plane railroads transported residents to the city's scenic hilltops, away from industrial smog and cramped conditions. This interactive exhibit features rare photos, interviews, and more from CHPL's Digital Library.

Explore the entire CHPL History exhibit online and view all the exhibits created by the Genealogy & Local History Department on our website, opens a new window.