The Downtown Library Has a Secret Garden

The Downtown Library Has a Secret Garden
The main library's walled reading garden

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

It’s officially autumn. Your beach reading days are over. But there’s still time to enjoy a good book en plein air before the snow flies. The walled reading garden of the main library was a gracious Mid-Century Modern retreat in architect Woodie Garber’s original 1955 plan, got expanded when the library grew in 1983, and is still a slice of Eden to the downtown workers who slip in for a moment of Zen on hectic days. If you schedule your visit just right, you may catch the Japanese maple’s delicate autumn transformation to scarlet. The maple was planted in honor of Jeanette Scanlon, one of the members of the Federated Garden Clubs of Cincinnati. Federated Garden Clubs sponsored the expansion of the garden, and they still maintain the glorious trees, paths, and foliage. The garden is open whenever the library is, even after dark. In fact, this month it will be the setting for classic campfire story readings. Not kid stuff, either: think Edgar Allan Poe. “It’s really lovely at night,” says librarian David Siders. And ever so slightly creepy.

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