Seven Public Libraries Worth Checking Out


Public libraries provide incredible resources to our communities, from their digital offerings to their physical collections, which go far beyond books. Here are seven local libraries worth checking out.

Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library

Illustration by Daniel Long

In August, the library launched a new website and its first significant rebranding in 20 years. It came at a significant moment: Not only has the pandemic forced the 41-branch system to bolster digital offerings and expand outreach to patrons, but the library is also just beginning work on Building the Next Generation Library, an ambitious and wide-reaching facilities master plan made possible by the 2018 passage of Issue 3, a 1 mil levy. Director Paula Brehm-Heeger, who took charge of the system in October 2018 following the retirement of longtime director Kimber Fender, will oversee the changes.

Patrons have access to a wide variety of circulating materials and online resources, from physical books to streaming movies to research databases. The Digital Library also allows virtual access to CHPL’s collections of rare print materials, like its collection of restaurant menus, digitized city directories, and photographs of Ohio River flooding. Four branches feature MakerSpaces, where guests can use sewing machines, large format scanners, vinyl cutters, 3D printers, and recording booths to create their own projects.

Kenton County Public Library

A $75,000 contribution from Andrew Carnegie launched the Covington library, which opened in what is now The Carnegie arts center in March 1904. About 100 years later, a facilities update resulted in an expanded Erlanger branch, the creation of the William E. Durr branch just south of Independence, and an extensive renovation and reworking of the Covington branch. As the needs of its community changed, the library responded, launching the Empower Tools tool lending service in 2017 and the Erlanger STREAM Center makerspace in 2018. Adapting to challenges presented by COVID-19, KCPL created the position of School Services Coordinator to help provide organized educational resources to schools and families throughout the library system.

In addition to these initiatives, KCPL delivers a wealth of traditional resources, including a robust local history and genealogy department, which includes Faces & Places, a searchable photographic archive of Northern Kentucky with more than 100,000 images.

Mason Public Library

Established as a branch of the Lebanon Public Library, MPL went independent in 1977. The collection holds more than 550,000 items and serves more than 50,000 registered patrons.

The Lane Libraries

Hamilton, Fairfield, and Oxford branches serve residents of Butler County. The octagonal core of the Hamilton location was designed and built by machine manufacturer (and library founder) Clark Lane.

Clermont County Public Library

From one office and a bookmobile in 1955, CCPL has grown to a 10-branch system, putting a library within a 15-minute drive of every county resident.

Campbell County Public Library

This four-branch system, started in 1978, offers cardholders free books that they can use to stock a Little Library. Its newest branch, in Alexandria, opened in January 2018.

Boone County Public Library

In July 2019, the sixth branch of this county library system opened in Hebron. It’s home to the Boone Innovation Lab, where patrons can reserve time on equipment including 3D printers, laser engravers, and even a quilting machine.

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