Digitization: Preserving Cincinnati’s History for All to See

Written by Whitney Reynolds, Genealogy & Local History Digital Services Assistant, Downtown Main Library 

Did you know your Library's collection contains more than 9 million items? And did you know the collection isn't limited to books, audiobooks, DVDs, and CDs?

Since 2007, our Genealogy & Local History’s Digital Services team has been continually digitizing materials for community access and researchers worldwide. The digitization project is made possible thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, awarded by the State Library of Ohio along with additional matching donations.

Lantern slide view of Mount Adams from Fifth Street 

What is digitization? 

Digitization is the process of converting photographs, printed materials, film and 3-dimensional objects into a computer-readable format. The result is a digital file that can be displayed and reproduced. Digitization is important for preserving the condition of the object or material while also allowing public access to rare and fragile library items.  

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map: Downtown Cincinnati 1904 

The Digital Library

To date, the digitization initiative at the Downtown Main Library has scanned nearly 65,000 items and continues to scan roughly 15,000 new pages every month.

Anyone around the world can access these materials by viewing the Digital Library through our website. Here you can find images of our local veterans contributed through the Veterans History Projectlate-19th century newspaper columns reporting on Cincinnati's Black community, maps of Cincinnati, city directories, trade catalogs, past Cincinnati Room exhibits, as well as the Greater Cincinnati Memory Project that boasts nearly 6,000 local history images.

The Library also works alongside other local libraries and institutions with their digitization efforts. Lloyd Library, Hamilton County’s Law Library, and Lane Library, as well as institutions such as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, have all taken part in the Library’s digitization efforts.  

Henri Matisse artwork from the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library’s Loeb Collection  

Stay Tuned!

In the coming weeks the Genealogy & Local History’s Digital Services team will be sharing monthly historical content through the Library's blog. Also, be sure to check out 100 Years Ago Today in Cincinnati to view a high-resolution scan of the Cincinnati Enquirer’s front page from 100 years ago, available on the Digital Library.