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Bond Hill Branch Library

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Innovation Leader: Kim Fender, Executive Director, kim.fender@cincinnatilibrary.org

Problem Statement

Two small branch libraries, less than 1.5 miles apart, served two Cincinnati neighborhoods from small, outdated facilities that lacked room for a strong collection, sufficient computers, programming space for school visits, storytimes and other library programs, and only one was accessible to people with disabilities. The neighborhoods served are both communities of economic need. Both neighborhoods are made up of a population that is more than 70% black and one includes a sizable Russian immigrant population. A new facility serving these neighborhoods was needed but, given our Library’s financial situation, funds for construction of a facility or increases in operating costs were not available. The Library had selected a preferred location, at the intersection of Reading Road and Seymour Avenue, that was situated halfway between the two current facilities but attempts to acquire property for construction had twice failed. The site included a failing shopping center that had been purchased by a local church for redevelopment.

Innovation

The Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency (CAA) had recently opened a new facility on the shopping center site and had space available for rent. The space was 12,000 square feet, larger than the two existing branch libraries combined and offered a unique opportunity to merge two smaller branches into newly renovated space at our preferred location. Working with the CAA we negotiated a lease that would keep operating costs within our current expenses. Working with the community councils for both neighborhoods we persuaded the residents of the benefits of the merger which ultimately resulted in one neighborhood, Roselawn, giving up their branch library. Finally, we raised nearly $800,000 from private donors to pay for the build-out and furnishings needed for the new branch library.

Progress

The new Bond Hill branch opened in August 2007. One of the services provided by the CAA at this site is a Head Start program, giving the Library daily access to hundreds of pre-school children for storytime. As a result, the Bond Hill branch has had the highest program attendance of any branch library in our system since its opening. The Bond Hill branch was the first in our Library to have computers offering productivity software and self-service checkout. Both services have been embraced by the communities served. The branch includes a teen space and offers teen programs and services. The communities are proud of the new branch library and it is our largest branch within the City of Cincinnati. This new branch is busy literally from the minute it opens until we close the doors each evening.