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Adult Learning Center

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Innovation Summary

The Adult Learning Center provides adult patrons with a variety of learning opportunities and assistance in a dedicated area at the Main Library utilizing library staff and materials.

Problem Statement

How does the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County provide adults with additional life-long learning opportunities and support in an environment conducive to developing basic academic skills? In this era of declining public services, librarians need to reach out and help within the confines of an already stretched budget. Adults in need are coming into the library as never before. Many come to jump the digital divide but find themselves in need of additional academic skills to help overcome life’s struggles.


Since 2000, the Library has partnered with Cincinnati Public Schools and the Great Oaks Districts by providing the GED Practice Test at branches county-wide, with over 6,500 adults participating. To further the Library’s commitment to life-long learning and expand outreach to adult patrons, the Adult Learning Center opened in October 2011 at the Main Library in downtown Cincinnati. Utilizing library resources, equipment, community volunteers and staff, the Adult Learning Center provides adults personal assistance so that they can reach their academic goals. A variety of resources, from online databases to adult literacy materials, are used during the hour long weekly sessions in a safe, nurturing environment conducive to study and learning.


Fred visits the new Adult Learning Center at the Main Library to get help reading and responding to letters he receives from a loved one every week. And every week, a Library staff member sits with him, one-on-one, to help him strengthen his literacy skills while he strengthens his relationship with that loved one through the written word. Fred is just one of the customers staff members regularly assist in the center. In just six months, over 300 adults have already used the Adult Learning Center for academic skill building and additional education services. Individual sessions have included ESOL Conversational English lessons, GED preparation, literacy improvement, math skills review, resume writing, and U.S. Citizenship test preparation. The Adult Learning Center’s nine computer workstations have also been utilized to provide individual computer training, online job application assistance, and one-on-one database instructional sessions. Also, with the creation of the Adult Learning Center, it’s now possible for the Library to provide free exam proctoring in a structured, formalized manner—thus delivering a service which has long been requested by customers. The Library, along with our community partner, the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati, is committed to increasing the literacy rate as well as providing much needed services to our adult population.