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.

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

Library Store Loyalty

The Library Store is excited to announce that we are launching our Loyalty Program!

The more money you spend in the Library Store, the more rewards dollars you get to spend at the upcoming Big Book Sale!

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

Big Book Sale: March 30 – April 2

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

Interested in volunteering? Learn more!

Thursday, March 30, 2017
5:30 – 8:30 PM
Friends of the Library members only

Friday & Saturday, March 31-April 1
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sunday, April 2
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 sale.

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

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.

Saturdays in the park with jazz

PBJ & Jazz concerts offer Columbus children and families an interactive introduction to live music

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 eighth 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. In 2015, nearly 2,000 children and adults attended the concerts.

The concerts are presented on the second Saturday of July, August, and September from noon to 1 p.m. This summer, a special concert was added on Saturday, June 25, as part of CML’s grand reopening of its Main Library.

Don’t miss September 10th at Noon for the final concert!

Each concert is hosted by retired music educator Rebecca Ogden and features a different group of professional musicians from the Jazz Arts Group. The 2016 lineup includes the Caribbean Jazz Quintet, Jailynn Lake-Noel, Bobby Floyd and Byron Stripling, and Kelly McLennan.

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.

“PBJ & Jazz in the Topiary Park is a wonderfully collaborative program that offers high quality arts and cultural programming in downtown Columbus,” says Friends of the Topiary Park representative Jennifer McNally, who has helped coordinate the series since 2008. “The combination of story time, jazz, and art making in a beautiful outdoor setting is appealing to all ages and multigenerational families.”

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.

Impact of the renovated Main Library

Since 1907, the inscription above our stately Main Library has proclaimed a core value: “Open to All.” The newly renovated library, with its broad vistas, open floor plan and walls of windows is indeed open to all and intended to bring people together. After a 16 month long $35 million dollar renovation, the grand opening ceremony took place on June 25. Columbus dignitaries, Library Board members and hundreds of Columbus library users, both young and old gathered on the updated Carnegie Plaza, anxious to visit their new library. The building inspires in a myriad of new ways. The new Main Library has a seamless connection to Topiary Park, a reimagined Children’s Area, more meeting and study rooms, a new Reading Room and great views of the vibrant downtown neighborhood throughout.

The new light filled Grand Atrium still features the beloved Aminah Robinson mural reinstalled on the main staircase, a staircase that now leads to a new two-story Reading Room on the second floor with windows sweeping across the east facade. Flooring was removed in four areas to create volume and space. Glass is used liberally to connect library visitors to the activity inside the library and to offer beautiful vistas of the Columbus downtown skyline, Discovery District and greenspace in Topiary Park.


Main Library entrance from Topiary Park

Main Library’s new design also incorporates a welcoming, light-filled entrance directly from Topiary Park. While many have long thought of Topiary Park as the library’s “back yard,” access and views of the park from Main Library were blocked. No longer: a new plaza, complete with benches, shaded tables and chairs and a performance area now create a literary gateway between the library and the park. A one-of-a-kind destination, Topiary Park was dedicated in 1992 and includes seven acres of manicured gardens depicting Georges Seurat’s Post-Impressionist painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. PBJ & Jazz family concerts, sponsored in part by Friends of the Library, are held monthly here on summer Saturdays after library story time.

Just off the Grand Atrium a reimagined Children’s Area exemplifies one of the library’s top strategies: Young Minds. The previous Children’s Area was tucked away to separate children from the main areas and to keep the library quiet. Today’s library connects kids and all library customers, encouraging learning and growth, in order to build a foundation for a successful life. Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Young Minds strategy focuses on three learning milestones: Kindergarten Readiness, Third Grade Reading Proficiency and High School Graduation.

The Kindergarten Readiness Area recreates a kindergarten classroom. Because many Columbus children ride a bus to school, the space includes a school bus for preschoolers and their parents to experience together. An interactive whiteboard with learning apps, a magnetic word wall and educational toys that assist with motor skills and cognitive development might be found in a child’s first classroom. Books are organized in bins featuring the alphabet to assist with a fundamental literacy skill of letter recognition.
Another Young Minds initiative around Third Grade Reading originated to help kids pass the third grade reading test required by the State of Ohio. The Reading Buddies program pairs young students with an older buddy, who read together to practice the skills necessary to pass the test and advance to the fourth grade. The area is full of comfortable seating to facilitate this activity—and of course lots of books!


Story time in the expanded and engaging Children’s Area of Main Library

Teens and high school students are invited to connect with the library in a variety of ways. The Homework Help Center, accessible through the Carnegie side of the library is adorned with the words, “To and Through College” and college pennants decorate the walls. Teens now have their own area on the second floor, separate from the Children’s Area and outfitted with the latest technologies. Through the SURGE network, teens can connect with other local institutions in the space, including the Columbus Museum of Art, COSI, TransitArts and Wexner Center for the Arts.


Teen computer and technology area

Columbus Metropolitan Library has worked to connect the community by tripling the number of meeting rooms and adding four additional study spaces. Meeting rooms have glass walls, opening the spaces into the library, and the names of organizations utilizing these rooms are displayed on a digital tablet outside the room. Users of the library can see their neighbors and friends involving themselves in the work of the community.

80,000 visits

In the first 30 days since opening, Main Library has had nearly 80,000 visits, a 21% increase over the average daily visits in June 2014. There have been 9,000 visits to the new walkways between the Carnegie building and the second floor of the 1991 addition, 14,000 visits to the Local History and Genealogy area and 40,000 visits to the Children’s area. The staff issued over 4,000 new library cards at Main Library, a 300% increase over the same time frame in 2014. Over 70,000 items have been checked out and customers have logged almost 13,000 public computer sessions. Customers have come from over 200 different registered zip codes, and at the two survey kiosks stationed at Main Library’s entryways, over 1,200 customers completed the online survey with 88% of them expressing happiness with their visits.

300% more library cards

Columbus Metropolitan Library is truly a gem in our city, connecting library users with a unique and spectacular space, state of the art technology, interactive Discovery Boards, kid’s areas, teen facilities, local history and genealogy resources, a café and a library store. And, yes, over 300,000 books, DVDs, CDs, magazines, newspapers and other items for circulation and research purposes. The newly reopened Main Library shows off its commitment not only to the library’s collection, but also to innovative ways of encouraging connection within our community.

New Main Library was big news! Here are links to some of the coverage:

Main Library ready to show off its $35 million renovation
The Columbus Dispatch, June 19, 2016

Light and Air: The New Columbus Metropolitan Library
WOSU, June 20, 2016

PHOTO TOUR: $35M main library renovation ready for debut, with new views of downtown Columbus
Business First, June 20, 2016

A new day for the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s flagship branch
Columbus Monthly, June 2016

Joe Blundo commentary: Renovation gives library feeling of openness
The Columbus Dispatch, July 17, 2016