Strengthening the link between libraries and legislators

CML leaders join library representatives from across Ohio in advocating on behalf of public libraries

Ohioans are fortunate to have outstanding public libraries—whether in our largest cities or rural areas—that are the heart of our communities. State funding through the Public Library Fund is essential to maintaining our libraries’ excellence, providing a level of support unmatched in the rest of the nation.

Ohio’s elected representatives and senators have long been committed to supporting public libraries, recognizing the vital impact of the resources and services they provide. But Columbus Metropolitan Library does not take this support for granted. Every year, CML leaders join library representatives from across the state to visit with legislators to advocate on behalf of Ohio’s public libraries.

Ohio Library Council (OLC), the statewide professional association that represents public libraries, trustees, staff and vendors that serve libraries, organizes an annual Legislative Day.

In preparation for this important event, OLC reviews legislation before the Ohio House and Senate that impacts Ohio libraries and develops talking points and materials to share with elected officials. Each year, OLC develops a theme for its message. This year, Ohio Libraries Lead highlighted the ways in which public libraries help create strong economies and healthy communities, including support for workforce development, job seekers, entrepreneurship, internet access and collaborating to address the opioid epidemic.

On April 11, Pat Losinski, CML CEO, Nikki Scarpitti, Director of Strategic Initiatives, and Trustee Katie Chatas worked together to get the message out about CML’s value to our community. Meeting with members of the Central Ohio delegations, the CML team received an enthusiastic reception: representatives and senators know how much their constituents love our libraries! While the Public Library Fund was not on the legislative agenda (it appears in alternate years), the CML team reminded the legislators of the importance of their future support for this funding.

However important state funding of public libraries will always be, other legislation also impacts libraries, sometimes in unexpected ways. For instance, a proposed law that changes how public entities use credit and debit cards could impact CML administrative policies and procedures, while the Broadband Development Grant Program could help public libraries to extend broadband access to underserved areas of Ohio.

Strong relationships between CML and elected leaders ensure that the library’s needs and interests remain a priority, regardless of the political and economic climate in our state. Along with the support from Friends of the Library, library customers and Ohio citizens, this advocacy ensures that Ohio public libraries fulfill their mission.

Big Book Sale: April 12-15

You’re invited to the Big Book Sale! The Big Book Sale takes place at Main Library in the Larry Black Auditorium and meeting room 1A on the first floor.

Interested in volunteering? Learn more!

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

Friday & Saturday, April 13-14
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sunday, April 15
1:00 – 4:00 PM

Read the Big Book Sale 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!

We’re Hiring a Warehouse Associate

We’re hiring!

Friends of the Library is seeking a part-time Warehouse Associate to help get ready for Big Book Sales, process Branch Merchandise requests and support our online book sales.  This position would be perfect for an independent employee with great internal customer service.  The hours are a bit flexibe but may require some evenings and weekends for special events.

Review the full Warehouse Associate job descripton to find more information!   This position is based at the Library’s Operations Center in Gahanna.   Interested candidates should submit a resume and completed Library Store Employment Application to

Friends of the Library Year in Review 2017

2017 was another great year for Columbus Metropolitan Library and Friends of the Library (FOL) is proud to play an important role in the library’s success. FOL projects provided funding totaling $141,200 in 2017, helping the library move closer to its vision of being  “a thriving community where wisdom prevails.”

Over the past year, FOL built on and expanded many of the programs and services it relaunched in 2016, from an enhanced Library Store to even more delicious food offerings in several library branches to bigger, more frequent, Big Book Sales. Throughout the year, FOL maintained its support for critical library 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.


The Library Store

FOL has continued to expand and refine the selection of merchandise appealing to bookworms and library lovers of all ages. Posters, apparel and a wide range of unique handmade items as well as a selection of gently used books are available to purchase in The Library Store at Main Library. Strong sales from the library community, including our Friends and Fans, made for a successful 2017. Friends receive a discount on all purchases at The Library Store.

Big Book Sale expanded

Due to popular demand, the Big Book Sale was held twice in 2017 in both the fall and spring. Sales and attendance continued to climb, with a total of more than 18,000 items sold, including used books for children and teens, fiction, cookbooks, biographies, specialty books, DVDs and library merchandise. Proceeds from the sale enable FOL to support library programs and special initiatives. Friends receive early admission to the Big Book Sale. FOL plans to again hold two sales in 2018, with the first sale planned for April 2018. Be on the lookout for specific dates and times to be announced soon!

Library Cafes: Annie Maude’s Café and Carnegie’s Café

FOL was thrilled to welcome Annie Maude’s Café to the newly opened Northside Branch in June 2017. The Café is an expansion of Freedom a la Cart’s mission-driven business that brings hope to survivors of human trafficking so they can build a new life of freedom and self-sufficiency. The library café menu offers some Freedom a la Cart favorites while introducing new cookies, sweet treats, and seasonal pastries. The café also offers library customers fresh grab-and-go snacks and espresso drinks. Carnegie’s Café continues to offer Main Library customers an expanded menu of coffee, beverages, sandwiches and other light snacks, with plenty of welcoming seating inside and out to enjoy the food—and the view. Friends enjoy a 15% discount at the café.


Carnegie Gallery

The Carnegie Gallery hosted seven exhibits featuring seven different non-profit partners, including its oldest, ROY G BIV and its newest, Columbus Open Studio & Stage. The FOL- sponsored gallery showcases the best work of both emerging and established artists in Ohio. Reviews of exhibits were found in The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Alive and City Scene Magazine. FOL funds support Carnegie Gallery exhibitions throughout the year and provide refreshments at an opening reception for each show, which combined welcomed nearly 700 people. Friends are always invited! FOL receives a commission from artwork sold in the Gallery.

PBJ & Jazz Concerts with the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus

In its eighth year, PBJ & Jazz at the Topiary Park proved again to be a popular summer concert series, introducing young children and their families to jazz and American music in a casual, interactive, family-friendly setting. More than 1,600 people enjoyed the four free concerts in Topiary Park, held in June, July, August and September. Many attendees also participated in the “bookend” events that complemented the concerts, ranging from the Library’s ever-popular family story time to the Columbus Museum of Art “Museum on the Move!” community-outreach and art-making activity program. FOL funds help support the concert series.


Summer Reading Club

Summer Reading Club 2017 introduced an online experience allowing customers to sign up and track their progress from home or from a mobile device. Overall, participation matched 2016 with nearly 60,000 participants, including students at over 450 schools. Adult sign-ups increased by 18%, and FOL provided a free book to each adult who completed the Summer Reading Program. FOL provided $10,000 in sponsorship to support SRC in 2017.

Teen Read Week

FOL once again sponsored Teen Read Week, welcoming more than 1,000 teens to hear Maggie Stiefvater, a New York Times bestselling young adult author. Stiefvater grabbed and held the attention of her young audiences and fielded questions from both readers and aspiring young writers. She shared stories of difficulty from her own life and encouraged teens to hear every “no” as a “not yet,” rather than a final answer. She also played her bagpipes — an instrument many of the students had never heard.

Teen Power Lunches

FOL funded the Teen Power Lunch program which pairs teens with CML staff and community member mentors to discuss topics like leadership styles, interviewing skills, conflict resolution, and learning from failure. The Teen Power Lunch program expanded to 23 branches in 2017, with nearly 375 teens ages 12-17 participating. Power Lunches provide an avenue to deepen relationships between staff and teens, helping teens develop life skills and discover options for their future.

Branch funding

FOL provides each branch with discretionary “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 teens vs. staff contest for Black History Month, FOL funds enable library staff to personalize the library experience for their branch community.

These are just some of the ways Friends of the Library made a difference to your library and your community in 2017. We are grateful for the support of our Friends and Fans and look forward to your ongoing participation and another wonderful year.


Friend & Staff Appreciation 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 and library staff receive 25% off all purchases made November 29 – December 10, 2017. 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 (will be open 1-4 p.m. December 3 – 17 for the holidays)

The Library Store will be closed on the following dates this holiday season:
Saturday, December 23
Sunday, December 24
Monday, December 25

Saturday, December 30
Sunday, December 31
Monday, January 1

Carnegie Gallery: One local artist’s “labor of love”

Main Library’s Carnegie Gallery is the realization of one Central Ohio artist’s vision and the support of the library administration and the Friends of the Library. Its history is closely intertwined with Stephanie Rond’s background as an artist and passion for creating a gallery at the library.

A Columbus-based street artist, Rond’s colorful, feminist works can be seen on walls around the city. Her work seeks to combat the objectification of women, explore gender roles, and expand accessibility to art.

In 2005, Rond was working in the Humanities and Arts Division at Main Library. Columbus Metropolitan Library had a longstanding relationship with the Ohio Arts Council digitizing the art of Ohio artists. Rond and division manager, Chuck Cody, created a juried exhibition of these Ohio artists for the first time in 2005 called the Ohio Online Visual Arts Registry (OOVAR). Friends of the Library (FOL) sponsored the reception for this exhibit and funded the best-in-show award.

Shortly after the OOVAR exhibit, an old administration reception area in the Carnegie portion of Main Library was renovated to create an art gallery space. Rond left the library to pursue her art full-time in late 2005.

The new art gallery space remained empty until 2007 when Rond had a conversation with her former colleague Cody, proposing that the gallery space be used as a venue for exhibitions by local artists and art organizations. The goal of the gallery was to bring together visual literacy and textual literacy. In addition, the gallery would serve as a new and interesting exhibition space for artists. Library patrons, especially children, would have a unique opportunity to view a wide variety of art. The gallery would bring art exposure to a population that might not otherwise be able to easily view art works. The concept evolved to become the Carnegie Gallery we know today.

Over the next four years, Rond volunteered her time as a liaison between CML and local art organizations, and as a curator for the exhibitions guiding the choice of art to be displayed. Rond donated her time to personally installing the artwork, saying, “It was, and is, a labor of love.” FOL provided support for opening receptions for each exhibition.

In 2011, with the FOL’s increased commitment to Carnegie Gallery, Rond was given the title of Gallery Director and provided a stipend for her work. In addition, Carnegie Gallery was featured on the FOL website and received expanded funding.

Rond has become a formidable presence in the Columbus art world and far beyond.

She has had the distinguished honor of representing North America in “She’s a Leader,” a street art project created by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society based in Paris, France. She is co-founder of Creative Arts of Women (CAW), founder of the website Women Street Artists, and the owner of several galleries.

The Columbus Dispatch and Columbus Alive newspapers tapped Rond’s 97-piece solo show, Dangerous Impermanence, for their coveted lists of Best Art Exhibits of 2014. An award-winning 2014 documentary, Tiny Out Loud, studied her gender-gouging street art and dollhouse art galleries. Rond produced the film, joining director Andrew Ina in crafting a fun, but evocative exploration of shrinking gender roles and enlarging the art world’s accessibility. Last May, The Ohio State University hosted a tribute and retrospective of Rond’s work entitled “Studies and Discourse: 20 Years of Artwork by Stephanie Rond.”

In the 11 years since Carnegie Gallery was established, it has showcased more than 60 exhibitions, providing opportunities for thousands of library customers to experience the work of hundreds of Ohio artists. The gallery has hosted 11 OOVAR exhibitions, and the artist competition grows every year for the popular exhibition.

Under Rond’s leadership, strong partnerships have been forged with local art organizations, and the Carnegie Gallery has gained notice through local news coverage as well as WOSU’s Artzine and Broad & High programs.

Carnegie Gallery will continue to provide a unique gallery space for artists. FOL continues to support the gallery and to expand the goal of bringing together art and literacy. With the completion of the renovation of Main Library in 2016, Carnegie Gallery was expanded with a direct physical connection to the library.

More than ever before, library patrons can view new and exciting works of art. Many exhibitions are planned for the coming year as more art organizations realize the value of Carnegie Gallery. Come and experience the wonderful space that is Carnegie Gallery.

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.