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The Library and World Choir Games

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, OH

Innovation Summary

In 2012 the World Choir Games game to Cincinnati. Over a ten day period 362 choirs from 64 countries competed in the Olympics of choral music. We developed special services to offer visitors as part of our community’s welcome and integrated the World Choir games into our ongoing programs.

Problem Statement

Our Convention and Visitors Bureau does not think of the Library as a tourist attraction. It is unlikely that someone would visit Cincinnati just to come to the Library but we can offer amenities that make a visitor’s stay more enjoyable. In planning for the World Choir Games we set about to do just that. The World Choir Games gave us an opportunity to showcase Library services to community leaders in a new way. The Main Library in downtown Cincinnati is located between Music Hall and the Aronoff Center, two of the primary venues for the Games. With so many visitors walking near the Library we wanted our staff to be prepared to welcome international competitors as well as concert goers from across the country.


First we held a brief training to help prepare Main Library staff. Our Human Resources staff assembled “Greetings & Courtesies” such as Hello, Good bye, Thank you, Restroom, Please, etc. which were posted on our Intranet. Additional resources including the following were also included in the training then posted on our Intranet: • World Choir Games • Mango Languages • Transparent Languages online • List of Foreign Language Skills Library staff • Google Translate All 16,000 WCG participants received in their welcome kits, a Complimentary Library card with a Globili sticker, making the copy accessible in 50 different languages. This new card type is for a limited time and provides cardholders with free Internet access, especially valuable for international guests, and the ability to download books and music. The Library Friends’ Shop sold official WCG merchandise and expanded its hours. An Internet Café for WCG participants was created to provide additional computers. Our Summer Reading theme was “Reading Rocks” and featured music themed programs and prizes. Additionally, we planned many music-themed activities/programs to coincide with the games including: • Two exhibits, Queen City of Song showcasing Cincinnati’s choral music history and What Children Believe International Art Exhibition • Flags from 48 of the countries competing in the WCG were displayed in the Main Library • A QR code tour of Ten Library Treasures is available at the Main Library • We hosted WCG Friendship concerts at the Main Library, and two branch libraries • The Cincinnati premier of a documentary about renowned choral music composer Morten Lauridsen was hosted with the composer and film producer present for discussion after the presentation


Response to the Library’s participation was very positive. We plan to continue to provide complimentary cards for future conventions and events. As a community we now know how to plan for an event of this scale. The Library’s role was very small but it did raise our visibility with community leaders. The Friendship concerts drew huge crowds, 700-800 each. We’ll plan for large crowds at future similar events. Community leaders appreciated our support of the initiative through the many programs and exhibits and our help in getting the word out to our cardholders. It is crucial for public libraries to participate, even at a small level, in regional events like this. We must become familiar faces and trusted partners to our civic leaders. This raises the stature of the library and broadens the understanding of our role in the community.