Progress Update: Building the Next Generation Library

As the Library continues to support the community during the very challenging year of 2020, I wanted to take a moment to look forward to 2021. A few of our Facility Master Plan (FMP) projects are in progress. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, we are committed moving forward with our FMP.  

As a quick review, when creating the plan, we listened closely and sought extensive input from the community. We connected with more than 3,000 community members throughout 2019 at over 90 meetings and via in-person and online surveys. The plan is built on six core principles: transparency, operational sustainability, maximizing access, industry-leading excellence, diversity and inclusion, and keeping a customer focus. It recommends improvements to all 41 locations over a span of 10 years. 

These improvements are made possible by funds provided through the levy Hamilton County voters approved in May 2018. The funds are coming to us in annual allotments between 2019–2028. The FMP is a guide, a roadmap really, that enables us to be flexible and adapt as needed. For example, the pandemic has spurred us to improve and activate our outdoor spaces, including reactivation and enhancement of a long unused courtyard at the West End Branch. 

Currently we are working on branch FMP projects. Most immediately Price Hill and Walnut Hills, which both have specific information on our website. The Deer Park project is also in progress and general information on that project can be found on our Next Generation Library page: Current ProjectsDesign Projects. While each of these branch projects are at different stages of progress and are very different buildings, one thing they have in common is that they represent our first Next Generation Libraries.  

These Next Generation Libraries are places where every community member can learn without limits in a welcoming, inclusive environment. They are going to offer what so many in our community have always loved about our libraries and services, plus much more. With a focus on fostering community and connections between individuals, library branches and their staff members will connect community members to resources and services that support them in living their best lives. Community members will have new opportunities to learn and create, to access our collections, and to use technology.  

We also are starting maintenance work on our Downtown Main Library’s South Building atrium in 2021. This includes repairs and updating of the skylight and elevators. We also are evaluating the condition of the Vine Street Plaza to inform our direction for this space going forward, which currently includes lowering the plaza to street level to create a safer and more welcoming entrance on Vine Street. We also anticipate that portions of the interior of the Downtown Main Library’s two buildings will receive a light renovation. 

All of these exciting developments and projects are only possible thanks to the support from our community. We take that support quite seriously, of course, and prioritize being good stewards of the funds in which you have entrusted to us. Additionally, these projects involve many local companies and firms from architects to construction management companies that continue to support our local economy and tax base. For example, after a Request for Qualifications Process, the Board of Trustees confirmed that the Megen Construction Company is the Construction Manager at Risk for the Walnut Hills Branch renovation and expansion project. 

Finally, we owe a very loud thank you to Ohio’s General Assembly for their latest support via the CARES funds that have allowed us to make the important purchase of personal protection equipment and other items so important during the pandemic.  

You can stay up-to-date on all of our FMP projects via the Next Generation Library website. We also are restarting our community information sessions for each planning zone. Pre-recorded presentations are being shared online for each planning zone and the Downtown Main Library beginning in November. These are followed up by a live, online Q&A session 6:30–7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, for those who have questions after viewing their zone’s presentation. Please attend these as we continue to seek community engagement and awareness about building your Next Generation Library.