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Encouraging Reading

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Problem Statement

In recent years public libraries have seen print circulation become a smaller percentage of their overall borrowing. In addition, reports like Reading at Risk raised concerns about the changes in literary reading taking place in the United States.


Staff implemented multiple services and programs designed to encourage reading in our community. • Created a Featured Book of the Month program - expanded in 2010 for teens and children as well as adults.

  • The Summer Reading Program was opened to adults who became part of the 37,298 readers who participated. Contributing to the success of this year’s program—up 6% over 2008—was the great partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, which provided 41 family memberships as kids’ grand prizes.
  • Created an annual community reading program, On the Same Page. The Soloist, 2009’s On the Same Page title was the Library’s top circulating book in 2009.
  • Reading choices have been brought front and center on the Library’s redesigned website. “Hot Titles” showcases the most recently released future bestsellers and “Reading Recommendations” offers notable titles on a variety of subjects. RSS feeds are also available.
  • “New Arrivals” is a popular online service offering lists of new additions to the collection categorized by subject, genre, age group, and format with a link to the Library’s catalog so holds can be easily placed.
  • “Hot Authors” enables customers to sign up to automatically receive the latest novels by their favorite authors.
  • Additional reading support is provided by the Turning the Page and Featured Book blogs.
  • The Library organized its 3rd annual Books by the Banks: Cincinnati USA Book Festival in collaboration with partners from both sides of the Ohio River (University of Cincinnati Libraries, The Mercantile Library, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati Magazine as well as Northern Kentucky University Steely Library and Kenton, Boone and Campbell county public libraries). With a lineup of 90+ local and national authors the one-day, regional event attracted over 3,000 booklovers.
  • The Author Series gave readers an opportunity to hear intriguing talks such as U.S. Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor, who spoke to an audience of over 900.
  • In October the community shared in reading Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as part of The Big Read, a National Endowment for the Arts grant program. “Tom Sawyer Day” at Eden Park launched the month-long program with every Library location presenting programs for all ages in partnership with the Cincinnati Park Board and Joseph-Beth Booksellers.


Print circulation increased by 9.1% in 2009 an increase of nearly 800,000. The Library added many new partners and Cincinnati has consistently ranked in the top 10 of America’s Most Literate Cities, an annual ranking prepared by Central Connecticut State University President Dr. Jack Miller. In 2009 Cincinnati ranked 9th.