Friends Seeking Board Applications

Do you know someone who could be described as an energetic, dynamic individual looking for an opportunity to serve our community in a meaningful, positive way? Friends of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is searching for people meeting that description to serve on the organization’s Board of Trustees.

Friends of the Library board members absolutely love the library and have a heart for volunteer leadership. Prospective board members often have previous experience serving on boards or committees and this year, we’re particularly interested in hearing from candidates with business strategy, graphic design, and social media or web design skills. Board members serve three-year-terms (donating an afternoon and evening each month), and enthusiastically network and advocate for the library throughout our community.

If this volunteer leadership opportunity sounds like it might be a good fit for you or someone you know, please take a look at the information packet and application: 2018 FOL Board Nominating Packet & Form. Return the completed form (along with any additional materials detailing your skills and experience) to the address or email provided.

To be considered, submissions must be received by 5 p.m., September 29, 2017. The nominating committee will begin reviewing applications soon thereafter.

How is your library funded?

There’s no question that Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) is a beloved and effective community resource. Central Ohio residents participate in its programs and check out materials in record numbers, national organizations bestow awards and accolades and striking new library branches transform our neighborhoods. Fundamental to the mission of a public library, CML is always free and “Open to All,” as proudly emblazoned across the entrance to Main Library.

Our public library is vibrant, successful and growing — which might make you wonder: how do we pay for all of this?

The majority of CML’s funding comes from two main sources: Franklin County property taxes and the Public Library Fund (PLF) in the state operating budget.

Many public libraries throughout the state seek funding support through local property tax levies, which must be approved by voters within the library district. CML receives the largest share of its operating funds from Franklin County property taxes.  In 2017, $47.1 million, or 68% of CML’s annual budget is forecasted to be funded through property taxes.

Franklin County voters have proven to be reliable and enthusiastic supporters of CML, approving levies in 1986, 2000 and 2010, the last with 66% of the vote total. There is no more significant “vote of confidence” in our library system than residents choosing to invest their own tax dollars in our libraries.  Local residents ensure that CML remains a vital resource that serves every community member.

However, not all Ohio libraries receive property tax support. According to the Ohio Library Council, 58 public libraries rely solely on the Public Library Fund for operating revenue. The PLF is allocated every two years in the state’s operating budget. All Ohio libraries are supported by the PLF, which receives a dedicated percentage of the total tax revenue in the state’s general revenue fund. It is distributed to each Ohio county and then among local libraries. While this funding stream has declined in recent years, it remains a critical source of operating dollars, especially for libraries that do not have a local property tax levy. In 2017, $21.0 million, or 30.4% of CML’s anticipated annual revenue is forecasted to come from the PLF.

The PLF’s impact is significant. It allows Ohio’s public libraries to be collaborative and innovative because they don’t have to compete for available funding like in many other states. This also means Ohio residents can go to any public library throughout the state and receive services. This is a direct result of the Public Library Fund investment from the state. The FY18-19 state operating budget bill was signed in June and temporarily set the PLF at 1.68% of the general revenue fund for the next two years.

CML’s third and smallest revenue category comes from donations, rental and service fees and investment income (only 4.0% in 2017). Library fines used to provide modest revenue, but have been eliminated in an effort to ensure access to library materials for all CML customers.

Friends of the Library plays a crucial role in advocating for both the levy and the Public Library Fund.  The Friends’ 501(c)4 status, as outlined in its charter, enables this group to provide direct financial support for levy campaign expenses. Trustees and members also participate in grassroots advocacy efforts by widely publicizing the levy and educating voters about their choice. When the state budget is crafted every two years, the Friends contact legislators to express support for the Public Library Fund in the state operating budget.

It takes a strong community to make a strong public library! Whether you are voting, donating, volunteering, spending time in our libraries or using its resources, we are all supporting CML.


What about the new buildings?

In the last three years, CML has opened seven new or extensively renovated branches in neighborhoods all over Central Ohio: Driving Park, Whitehall, Northern Lights, Parsons, Shepard and Northside, as well as the grand transformation of Main Library downtown. Three more projects—new branches for Martin Luther King, Dublin and Hilliard—are still to come. These new branches have enriched and enlivened neighborhoods, serving as true community centers with expanded program offerings and public meeting spaces. Each new branch has seen significant increases in customer use.

A capital investment of this scale doesn’t come along often and requires special funding. To raise the $130M required to realize this ambitious vision, CML leadership chose to fund the new branches through a combination of bonds ($92.3M) and private philanthropy ($21.5M). The Great Libraries Create campaign was spearheaded by the Library Foundation Board, its goal to “create spaces where our community will dream, innovate, learn, share, connect and grow.” Led by a dedicated campaign committee, many individuals, corporations and foundations came through to create 21st century libraries for our community.

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