Big Book Sale: October 12-15

The Big Book Sale takes place in the Larry Black Auditorium at Main Library.

Interested in volunteering? Learn more!

Thursday, October 12
4:30 – 8:30 PM
Friends of the Library members only

Friday & Saturday, October 13-14
9:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Sunday, October 15
1:00 – 4:00 PM

Read the Big Book Store FAQs…

Friends of the Library members gain access to the pre-sale and receive a 10-20% membership discount on all purchases. Not yet a member? Join now to access the pre-sale and discount. You can also join at the door.

Friends of the Library accepts cash and credit card. Customers are encouraged to bring their own bag to carry their purchases. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Lessons and tools offered by CML’s Local History & Genealogy lead to life changing discoveries

On any given day, hundreds of customers make their way to Columbus Metropolitan Library’s (CML) Local History & Genealogy division on the third floor of Main Library.

According to Angela O’Neal, manager of Local History and Genealogy (LHG), nearly 90,000 people have visited during the past year.

Some have questions about the history of their homes. And some want to know more about their family history. Others are curious about the history of their neighborhoods. Government staffers stop to research local statutes.

William Otten came to LHG seeking additional sources of genealogical information to help in his research. What he found has changed his life.

As a child, the Clintonville resident listened to family stories shared by his father Richard. But his father’s death when Otten was 12 left him with unanswered questions and a yearning to learn more about his family’s history.

In anticipation of travel to Germany with his wife last year, Otten began online research into his German-Jewish ancestry. Initial online inquiries, Otten said, yielded some unexpectedly rich information about his ancestral hometown of Goppingen in southern Germany.

He shared his findings with CML’s O’Neal and her colleague Aaron O’Donovan who were excited about the information Otten had collected and offered strategies to help him learn more.

“Local History and Genealogy does genealogy far beyond central Ohio,” O’Neal said. “The connections our customers have are far and wide, and we have resources from all around the world.”

O’Donovan taught Otten how to use Google Earth as a tool in his search. Entering the address printed on the naturalization card Otten’s father received in 1944 while in the U.S. military, a street-view photograph of the building appeared that—based on its age—offered evidence that his father had lived there. O’Donovan also shared information about genealogical websites available free of charge through the library including Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Fold3 (veterans’ materials), as well as links to census and military records.

O’Neal invited Otten to attend a workshop about genealogical research led by a nationally known practitioner. There, he learned how to use the Internet and software to construct a comprehensive family album that can be updated as information is collected.

Printed materials available to CML customers include an extensive Columbus collection, materials from every county in Ohio, and a selection of materials from each state. LHG is also home to several significant genealogy resources including the Palatine to America (Germany to America), British and Irish, and Huguenot (France to America) collections.

For Otten, the lessons and tools offered by the LHG division and one-on-one work with library staff have been invaluable in his quest to learn about his heritage.

From the library’s collection, Otten located cemetery records in Goppingen and a contact for the local Jewish museum. He emailed the museum mentioning the possibility of a visit.

At the conclusion of their trip to Germany last November, Otten and his wife traveled to Goppingen where a welcoming committee shared stories, gifts and a proclamation with the couple. Otten said a highlight was a ceremony to place markers outside his grandparents’ home.

His grandparents, Luise and Alfred Ottenheimer, raised two sons while operating the Factura von Gebrüder Ottenheimer (Factory of the Brothers Ottenheimer) in Goppingen.

In 1937, before the Holocaust, Otten’s father, Richard, trained as a chemical engineer, was able to get a sponsor and immigrate to the United States. His uncle went to Cuba.

Otten’s grandfather died in 1938, shortly after being forced to sell his home and his business that was left under Nazi control. His grandmother was deported in early 1942, ending up near Riga, Latvia. She was killed there or in the Jungfernhof concentration camp in Latvia.

Otten said one of his primary objectives in doing genealogy research was to provide his children and grandchildren with a viable genealogical history so they have better self-awareness and a deeper knowledge of their family history.

“As I’ve shared information, they have learned more in a few hours than they have known in their entire lives about part of their heritage,” Otten said. Through contact with other family members to share information and find answers to questions that have arisen because of his research, he has also begun to build new relationships.

After returning from Germany, Otten met again with O’Neal who offered additional information and suggestions about further sources he continues to use.

“It’s amazing to watch customers learn new things through their research here,” O’Neal said. “Their lives are changed by what we do and it’s a powerful thing to be part of that discovery.”

Otten plans to share his discovery with the hope of inspiring others to begin or continue to learn about their heritage and to pass along the products of their efforts to their descendants. He also wants to share experiences of his family before, during and following the Holocaust in public forums as a way of connecting these experiences to the current socio-political climate both in the United States and the world.

It’s time to jump for jazz! Join us for the 2017 PBJ & Jazz concerts

On summer weekends in the city, the sounds of merriment and music fill the Topiary Park as families and friends gather for PBJ & Jazz concerts.

Now in its ninth year, the popular PBJ & Jazz concert series introduces jazz and American music to children and their families in casual, one-hour interactive concerts. Each of the concerts features some of Columbus’ finest musicians in a dynamic introduction to live music for young audience members. Each summer, thousands of children and adults attend the popular series.

The concerts will be presented June 10, July 8, August 12, and September 9 from noon to 1 p.m. Each concert is hosted by retired music educator Rebecca Ogden and features a different group of professional musicians from the Jazz Arts Group. The 2017 lineup includes Byron Stripling and the Bobby Floyd Trio, Bright Moments Quintet, Liz Woolley Band, and ZC7: Latin Jazz Experience.

Families are encouraged to bring picnic lunches to enjoy during the free concerts.

A collaborative effort between the Jazz Arts Group, Friends of the Topiary Park, Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) and the Columbus Museum of Art, the concerts build awareness of high-quality cultural activities and educational opportunities for families in downtown Columbus.

Each of the concerts is “bookended” by two family-friendly cultural offerings. Preceding concerts at 11 a.m., CML presents family story time in the Main Library. Following the concerts, the Columbus Museum of Art offers a hands-on art activity from 1 to 2 p.m. All activities are free and open to the public.

Since the introduction of PBJ & Jazz, a grant from the Friends of the Library (FOL) has made it possible to present free concerts of high artistic value to a wide audience. FOL funding supports promotional efforts to build awareness of the series—including advertising and the printing of 10,000 bookmarks distributed through CML’s branches, at the Columbus Arts Festival, and by each participating organization. FOL funding also supports the rental of sound equipment for concerts.

PBJ & Jazz concerts are presented by Friends of the Topiary Park and sponsored by the Discovery Special Improvement District, the Jennifer Michel Keefer Memorial Fund at The Columbus Foundation, and Friends of the Library. Columbus Recreation and Parks, the Discovery Special Improvement District, and Motorists Insurance Group provide in-kind support. WCBE 90.5 FM provides exclusive media support.

The Topiary Park is located at 480 E. Town Street in downtown Columbus. Free parking is available in the Motorists Insurance lot just north of the Topiary Park. In the event of rain, all activities are held in the Main Library, located at 96 S. Grant Avenue, adjacent to the Topiary Park.

FOL Newsletter Winter 2017


thumbnail-winter2017-newsletterGet the latest on the true impact of Columbus Metropolitan Library programs.

In this issue:

  • Read our 2016 Year in Review
  • Learn about the Library Store in the newly renovated Main Library
  • Sign up to volunteer at our next Big Book Sale
  • Find out what’s happening in the Carnegie Gallery

FOL Winter 2017 Newsletter

FOL Year in Review 2016

It has been a year like no other at Columbus Metropolitan Library, and Friends of the Library (FOL) have been a part of every achievement and celebration. In 2016, we saw the rebirth of a transformed Main Library, opened new branches for Northern Lights, Parsons and Shepard, welcomed thousands of librarians from across the world to the IFLA World Library and Information Congress—all the while maintaining thriving programs that support learning and literacy in Central Ohio. Our community values our library and its vital role in our lives. Friends should be proud that their FOL membership supports this treasured community resource, extending its reach and impact.

It was a year of milestones for FOL, as well, as the reopening of Main Library reinvigorated some of our most important projects and programs:

The Library Store

With the reopening of the renovated Main Library in June 2016, FOL relaunched The Library Store in an open, centrally located space just off of the atrium. Unique merchandise appealing to bookworms and library lovers of all ages includes posters, apparel, and a wide range of unique handmade items as well as a selection of gently used books. Thanks to strong sales from the library community, including our Friends and Fans, The Library Store has exceeded our financial goals for 2016! Profits from the store help fund the many library programs that FOL supports throughout the year. Friends receive a discount on all purchases at The Library Store.


Big Book Sale Returns

The much-anticipated Big Book Sale returned in November 2016 with record sales and attendance. More than 10,000 items were sold, including used books for children and teens, fiction, cookbooks, biographies, specialty books, DVDs and library merchandise. Proceeds from the sale enables FOL to support library programs and special initiatives. Friends receive early admission to the Big Book Sale. The 2016 Big Book Sale was such a success FOL plans to hold another sale March 30-April 2, so please mark your calendars!

Carnegie Gallery

In partnership with the library and a number of local nonprofit galleries and artists’ cooperatives, FOL sponsors exhibits in the Carnegie Gallery throughout the year. Located in the original Carnegie library building, the gallery is now easily accessible from the second floor as well as the majestic marble staircase at the main entrance. The second Art Unbound exhibit marked the reopening of Main Library in June. This exhibition showcased local artists who transformed library books in disrepair into remarkable works of art. Later in the year, Carnegie Gallery hosted two additional exhibits, OOVAR (Ohio Online Visual Artist Registry, a locally juried art show) and Art and Artists of 614.  FOL funds support Carnegie Gallery exhibitions throughout the year and provide refreshments at an opening reception for each show. Friends are always invited! FOL receives a commission from artwork sold in the Gallery.


Carnegie’s Cafe at Main Library

Coffee, pastries and lunch are once again being offered for sale at Main Library. Carnegie’s Cafe, located off the atrium across from The Library Store, has an expanded menu and a welcoming and spacious seating area. Friends enjoy a 15% discount at the Cafe.

PBJ and Jazz Concerts with the Columbus Jazz Arts Group

While these popular concerts never skipped a beat, we were glad to have Main Library open again for the 2016 summer season and to welcome families from storytime, who made their way through the beautiful new library atrium to The Topiary Park. A special concert was part of the community celebration for Main Library’s reopening. Four concerts in June, July, August and September welcomed over 1,500 people for stories, music, dancing and fun.

In a year with many new things to celebrate, FOL continued its support for long-standing library programs during 2016:

Summer Reading Club

A total of 59,000 children, teens, and adults participated in the 2016 Summer Reading Club. The Club achieved the highest completion rate of 60% for kids aged 5-11 in the program’s history. Reading over the summer is an important way for students to maintain skills, discover the joys of reading for pleasure and become part of a community that values learning. A crowded calendar of special activities kept all participants—and library staff—very busy.


Teen Read Week

FOL sponsored Teen Read Week, welcoming Jason Reynolds, an award-winning young adult author. Visiting six of our urban branches and Main Library, Reynolds spoke to nearly 1,100 middle and high school students, sharing his own story of becoming a reader and writer. An inspiring and entertaining speaker, Reynolds challenged his young audience to find their own way to books and learn to tell their own stories.

Branch Funding

FOL funds provide each branch with “spending money,” used to enhance library programs, build community outreach, and fund special projects. Whether it’s offering pizza to teens participating in an evening program, supporting a college fair, or sponsoring a Black History Month teens vs. staff contest, FOL funds enable library staff to personalize the library experience for their branch community.

In all these ways, Friends of the Library make a difference to your library and your community. We are grateful for your support, and look forward to another year with the Friends and Fans of Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Library Store Loyalty

The Library Store is excited to announce the launch of its Loyalty Program!

The more money you spend in the Library Store, the more reward dollars you get to spend at the upcoming Big Book Sale! Ask about signing up the next time you visit the store.

We’re Hiring a Part-Time Sales Associate

We’re hiring! Friends of the Library Store is seeking a part-time Sales Associate to deliver excellent customer service and engage in store operations to enable its success. Review the full job full job description for the part-time sales associate. Friends of the Library Store is located inside the newly renovated Main Library at 96 S. Grant Ave. in downtown Columbus. Interested candidates should submit a resume and completed Library Store Employment Application to

FOL Newsletter Fall 2016

Get the latest on the true impact of Columbus Metropolitan Library programs.

In this issue: FOL newsletter thumbnail.png

  • Learn how the Library supports early childhood literacy for Columbus children
  • Find out what happened when 3,100 library professionals from 140 countries came to CML
  • Read about the unprecedented response from teens who attended Teen Read Week with author Jason Reynolds


FOL Newsletter Fall 2016

Holidays at the Library Store

Shop the Library Store this holiday season for all of your gift giving needs. Find unique literary-themed gifts, learning toys for kids, used books, jewelry, artwork, home decor and so much more. Visit us today!

Friends of the Library members receive 10-20% off purchases. Not yet a member? Join now or at the store. Happy holidays!

The Library Store is located on the first floor of Main Library at 96 South Grant Avenue in downtown Columbus.


Monday – Thursday     10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Friday – Saturday         10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sunday                           closed

The Library Store will be closed on the following dates this holiday season:
Saturday, December 24
Sunday, December 25
Monday, December 26

Saturday, December 31
Sunday, January 1
Monday, January 2

Library Supporting Early Childhood Literacy for Columbus Children

Reading is an essential building block for a child’s ability to grow and succeed. Without basic reading skills, the world is a frustrating place, hard to understand, and with barriers all around. Providing children in Columbus with the right tools, experiences and family support to help them become proficient readers is a cornerstone of Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Young Minds strategy.

CML has long been committed to enriching and supporting childhood literacy throughout the Columbus area. Particular need for early literacy support came into focus in 2014, when the success of CML as one the country’s best library systems was juxtaposed with continuing under performance by Columbus children in basic literacy. CML set out to make a positive impact, and has done so by providing programs and support to children and their families in a wide variety of ways. Here are some of the key initiatives CML focuses on to promote strong development of reading skills for children in Columbus.

Kindergarten Readiness

Storytimes – CML holds thousands of Storytimes every year at branches throughout the city. It’s a fun and interactive way to teach children Ready for Kindergarten skills such as words, songs and vocabulary. Writing activities even for very young children have been shown to help develop the motor skills needed to begin to form letters. As a result, toddler and preschool Storytimes also include age appropriate writing activities such as writing the letter of the day and name writing. 


Storytime at the library includes music and reading.

Book Lessons – A parent-focused service where CML staff demonstrate how to use picture books to teach early literacy skills to pre-Kindergarten children. Book Lessons encourage parent-child conversations guided by the targeted skills. Book Lesson “homework” sheets for parents identify literacy activities corresponding to specific books for babies, toddlers and preschool age groups.

Ready for K Areas – Yellow school buses welcome young children to special Ready for Kindergarten areas in some of CML’s branches. Creating a space targeted at the youngest group of children and providing physical surroundings that give an added comfort level with aspects of beginning school add to the resources provided by CML.


The yellow school bus is an inviting landmark for children to find the Ready for Kindergarten area in many CML branches

Ready for Kindergarten – Classes served 491 customers who attended 53 Ready for K classes throughout the CML system. Children 3 to 5 years of age receive instruction in kindergarten readiness skills. During class, participants “play school.” Children practice writing, learning letters, using scissors and other important skills needed for kindergarten success. Parents learn how to support these skills at home and get practice in working on those skills during class time. Ready for Kindergarten classes focus on getting children off to a strong start with the literacy skills they need to become successful readers.


At the Linden branch children learn about parts of the book and create name boxes by writing their names, cutting, coloring and gluing

Ready to Read Home Visitation and Bookmobile

Bookmobile – The Ready to Read bookmobile (named Rosie!) is stocked with children’s books and staffed by 8 CML employees, who focus on helping parents and caregivers learn and implement early literacy activities in their own homes. The home visit program consists of 12 home visits per family where basic early literacy skills, such as initial sounds, rhyming, letter knowledge and vocabulary, are emphasized. The focus is repetition of these skills, which are directly linked to kindergarten readiness and later passage of the Ohio 3rd grade reading test. During each visit, the child receives a copy of the book featured in the lesson, and parents are assigned homework to practice in between. The home visit program visited roughly 200 homes a month and served 500-800 families in 2015.

In addition to home visits, the Ready to Read Corps also visit job and family services welcome centers, food pantries, WIC offices and pediatric centers to reach additional families and their children where they spend significant time. The Ready to Read program has a measurable impact.  The program positively transforms parents’ attitudes about learning for themselves and their children, as has been shown in a formal evaluation by CML in partnership with The Ohio State University.

Support for 3rd grade reading test

Reading Buddies – Provides essential one-on-one reading practice to students in grades K-3. Studies show that kids become better readers through extra reading practice. During 2015, over 6,200 students participating in Reading Buddies read with adult volunteers and staff members after school at each of CML’s branches. Reading Buddies work with the students to help them sound out words and test their comprehension. This fall each child participating in Reading Buddies received a free book made possible by a donation from the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services. Reading Buddies is particularly critical since Columbus 3rd graders must pass Ohio’s State Test in English Language Arts to move on to 4th grade. CML’s additional support was one of the factors boosting the pass rate to 90% in the 2015-16 school year from 87% in the 2013-14 school year.

Abdulnas Ali reads to Amanda Stephen during the Reading Buddies program at the Karl Road Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library on Tuesday, May 5. The popular program pairs students in kinndergarten through third grade with volunteers who either listen to the students read or read to them. Abdulnas Ali reads to Amanda Stephen during the Reading Buddies program at the Karl Rd Library Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Reading Buddies provides one on one reading practice in support of the 3rd Grade Reading test.

School Book Delivery – Beginning in 2014 CML has provided monthly delivery of classroom “kits” to 23 public elementary schools in Columbus to support reading instruction and lessons in those schools. The kits consist of 30 high interest fiction and non-fiction books delivered to schools identified as having low scores in kindergarten readiness or on the 3rd grade reading test or schools lacking libraries, staff and current books. Participating schools reported that the books had a positive impact on the students’ enthusiasm for reading and that students loved the books and were excited to open the kits to see what books were inside.

Kids Cards CML offers a special library card just for kids, called the Kids Card, that removes barriers preventing children from accessing the library’s collections. Kids under 17 can sign up for the Kids Card without a parent’s signature, which entitle them to check out up to 5 books at a time and provide full access to Homework Help Centers and computers at each branch. The Kids Card does not impose fines. CML has issued approximately 29,000 Kids Cards as of October, 2016. The Kids Card fosters a sense of responsibility, pride and ownership in children by allowing them to manage their library items. All children who enrolled in the 2016 summer reading program were asked to sign up for their own library card. This is part of CML’s effort with the White House’s ConnectED Initiative, which seeks to ensure that all students have library access to the resources they need to thrive in the 21st century.


Library Impact

The impact of library programs supporting the literacy of young children in the Columbus area is significant. The programs provide young children and their families with a variety of resources, allowing them to take advantage of the programs that provide them the most benefit. CML’s Young Minds initiative puts increased early literacy of children throughout central Ohio as its core mission. Our children are stronger readers and better able to thrive both inside and outside of school, in part, due to the work of the library.