Oberlin College Conservatory Library


This month’s feature on Oberlin College Libraries is a special traveling, two-part series.  This second installment focuses particularly on Oberlin’s Conservatory Library.  Please see our first part here.

The Conservatory Library at Oberlin College serves as a lively central hub for the college’s four music buildings.  Students meet, collaborate and even sing throughout the library.  In fact, while we toured the library, we heard a group of students working through and harmonizing on a music piece!

The library was created soon after Oberlin Conservatory of Music’s inauguration in 1865, making the conservatory the oldest continuously operating conservatory of music in the United States.  The current library building was constructed in 1963 and has undergone several enhancements. In 2000, the library’s collection was considerably expanded and a second story with high density shelving was added.  In 2010, the library obtained a vault for the library’s incredible special collections, and in 2015 the Conservatory Library Special Collections Reading Room was opened.


Conservatory Librarian Deborah Campana shares a moment in the library’s sunny atrium

Conservatory Librarian Deborah Campana noted the library is an essential partner to the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music . The library ranks among the largest academic music libraries with approximately 270,000 items, including 80,000 sound recordings, 127,000 musical scores and almost 63,000 books about music.  Specialized online databases and  computers equipped with composition software expand students’ discovery and technical expertise.  The library continues to actively collect in the area of women musicians as well as ethnic, folk, jazz and other genres.


Exhibit featuring the Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection

The Conservatory Library’s amazing special collections, managed by Jeremy Smith, contain rare materials from the 1500s through today. The collection comprises of a wide array of recordings, music manuscripts, autographs, photographs, engravings, paintings, posters, playbills and instruments.  Jeremy oversees the ongoing digitization of the collections and creates engaging exhibits throughout Oberlin College’s campus.

The Conservatory Library at Oberlin College is a vibrant, musical space and a gem within the college.

Oberlin College Libraries


This month’s feature on Oberlin College Libraries is a special traveling, two-part series.  Please join us on October 17th when we explore the libraries further, particularly the Oberlin College Conservatory Library.

Oberlin College, located in northern Ohio, celebrates a rich history of providing excellent equality in education.  The college, founded in 1833, was the first college in America to adopt a policy to admit African American students and the first to grant bachelor’s degrees to women in a coeducational program.  The city of Oberlin has a long history of supporting racial justice, including when the town banded together with neighboring Wellington to keep runaway slave, John Price, free. In addition to providing exceptional service to students, the Oberlin College Library helps to preserve the college’s history and educate students on the history of the institution through their amazing collections.  As a result of their shared history with the city, the college maintains an impressive collection of abolitionist materials and original records.

“From it’s inception, the school represents education and social justice. The library is the steward of that concept” – Alexia Hudson-Ward.


Library Director Alexia Hudson-Ward and Head of Special Collections Ed Vermue show pieces from their abolitionist collection – slave stocks and chains leave a powerful impression when you feel the weight and learn the story

Hudson-Ward joined Oberlin College as the Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries in July of 2016 and oversees the college’s four libraries – the main Mudd Center library and the arts, science and conservatory libraries.  The library’s founding director, Azariah Smith Root, was a visionary and thought leader behind the concept of bibliographic instruction who also held leadership roles with the American Library Association.

Hudson-Ward explained that the college’s 3,000 students have access to all of the libraries and visit them depending on which unique atmosphere suits their needs.  The Mudd Center library serves as a meeting place and student union, the art library provides hands on learning opportunities, the conservatory library is musical and often students are found singing in the stacks and the science library is a silent study space.


Commemorative gateway in front of the art museum and library

Head of Special Collections Ed Vermue discussed the power of physical objects in the library collection.  Library staff are working to increase the use of haptic learning by delivering physical objects from their archives into the hands of students. These experiences engage students in learning and often lead them to explore other materials including documents and manuscripts. Oberlin is exploring methods to capture the essence of what is lost in the digitization process and to display materials while making them part of a readily available collection.


Fully functioning media viewers are part of the library archives and special collection

The library has also been tasked with documenting the biography of President Marvin Krislov, who will depart the college at the end of the academic year. As the first “digital president,” the library will explore methods for capturing his presence on the campus through his social media and other digital communications.

Hudson-Ward is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. As someone new to the campus, she enjoys seeing the greatness of the college and its libraries through fresh eyes and sharing her enthusiasm with her team, students and library visitors.







Upper Arlington Public Library

UAPL Exterior

The Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL) Main Branch

The Upper Arlington Public Library‘s main library is a spacious building with a stunning, light filled atrium.  The Library Journal places the system at its highest ranking of five stars, a designation Director Chris Taylor credits to the libraries’ staff.  With an average employee tenure of nine years, the team of 116 employees and over 120 volunteers champions the library’s mission to explore, gather and grow.

Listen Columbus

Listen Columbus is a project of UAPL promoting Central Ohio bands & musicians

UAPL offers groundbreaking services.  Listen Columbus, launching this October, will be an amazing resource to explore local musicians, stream their music and even download.  Keep up to date on all the music being added via Listen Columbus’ Twitter.  UAPL is also the first library in Central Ohio to offer passport services.  The service offers greater convenience by being open nights and weekends, and the comfortable library environment can’t be beat!  In the six short weeks since introducing, UAPL has already helped 110 people looking to possibly do service work abroad or enjoy an exotic vacation.


Upper Arlington Author Series brings a variety of notable authors to Central Ohio

UAPL collaborates with a number of community-based organizations.  The Upper Arlington Author Series is a partnership between the Upper Arlington Community Foundation, Upper Arlington Rotary, Friends of the Upper Arlington Public Library and UAPL.  Bill Clegg, longlisted for the National Book Award, will be speaking on October 2nd.  Past notable authors include National Book Award winner, Anthony Doerr, and Caldecott Medal recipient, Paul Zelinsky (brought in partnership with Upper Arlington Schools; see our post on Windermere’s Media Center).  Beyond the world-class authors UAPL helps to attract, the library also fosters aspiring authors.  Through a collaboration with the Upper Arlington Cultural Arts Division and the Upper Arlington Recreation Department, UAPL is hosting an all-day writers’ conference this October 15th.  One last collaborative highlight includes The Stand Project.  The initiative is “focused on the prevention of substance abuse and committed to standing by students and families in finding help.”  With financial support from the Upper Arlington Rotary Club, UAPL has created circulating book club kits with discussion questions featuring topics on substance abuse, mental health and more.

Childrens Area Signage

UAPL children’s area is transforming to enhance services

To better serve the community, UAPL is expanding its children’s storytime area into a flexible space.  By doing so, UAPL can cost effectively provide more programing and services without new construction.  UAPL is excited to unveil its multipurpose space the first week in September.

Kate Porter1

UAPL Assistant Director Kate Porter

Kate Porter has been with Upper Arlington Library’s system since 1998.  As assistant director, she oversees public services at all three of the system’s libraries.  Kate grew a love for libraries when she was a history graduate student at the University of Delaware.  A few years later, she acquired her Master of Library and Information Science degree.  Kate loves being involved in various projects and looks forward to helping UAPL celebrate its upcoming 50th year.

Mo Willems High School Art

Mo Willems’ Pigeon and other children’s literary icons created by Upper Arlington High School students

Upper Arlington Public Library’s main branch is an incredible space with a dedicated team bringing unique programs and services to the Central Ohio community.  We highly recommend visiting soon!

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Nationwide Children’s Hospital Library

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NCH Librarians Linda DeMuro, Susan Jones, Alison Gehred and Susi Miller

The Grant Morrow III, MD Medical Library is an essential resource for Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH). Located on the second floor of the hospital’s education building, the library provides research and reference services for the hospital staff, including nurses, physicians and allied health personnel. Additionally, the library locates and delivers resources, provides workspaces, manages materials, partners in interlibrary loan services and proctors tests for hospital employees.

Established in 1953, the library has a tremendous archive dating back to when the hospital was founded in 1892. Ohio State University librarian and consultant, Kristin Rodgers, is assisting with archiving the preservation of historic documents, including the hospital’s first patients’ records.

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Materials from the library’s archives are being sorted and preserved


The library is actually a branch of The Ohio State University Health Sciences Library, which provides access to a wide variety of publications and shared resources. NCH’s collection includes an impressive 16,000 volumes and 260 subscriptions.

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Some of the rare books within the NCH’s collection


Active partners in the hospital’s work, librarians provide important research assistance, validating sources and finding answers to unusual questions like “what are the risks to a child who has drunk citronella oil?” Librarians equip hospital staff with research and technology training and assist with processing a monthly “Ask a Specialist” email, which informs Columbus pediatrics about a variety of health care questions. These services produce an extended value and help the hospital achieve its strategic plan of finding journeys to best outcomes. Library Director Linda DeMuro noted the library has received years of positive feedback, further illustrating their value within the system.


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A play area in the Family Health Information Center


In addition to information services, the library serves as a workspace and informal gathering area for hospital employees. Meeting rooms can be reserved via the hospital’s central scheduling program, and the library features a patio overlooking the hospital’s park where employers can work, eat lunch or just enjoy the view.


View of the park from the library’s patio


On the first floor of the education building, the library maintains the Family Health Information Center (FHIC). Open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. each weekday, the information center gives families access to health information.  There are also children’s books, magazines and a quiet space for families to spend time. The FHIC also partners with the Blue Jackets Family Resource Center to provide a variety of services to promote “family centered care”.


Parents and patients have access to a variety of multimedia resources at the Family Health Information Center


The secret is out – Linda DeMuro, Director

The library’s services continue to gain popularity as the hospital staff learn about their offerings, as DeMuro put it, “the secret is out.” The Grant Morrow III, MD Medical Library is an important and respected partner of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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Central Ohio Little Libraries


A sample of little libraries & their stewards in Central Ohio

Little libraries are as unique and varied as their owners.  Called by various names like little lending libraries, Little Free Libraries® or book exchanges, they all share the same objective — community enrichment.

“Getting books in kids’ hands is the whole point.” – Sandy Coen

The concept is simple.  A community member or organization installs a small to medium-sized structure to promote literacy and community.  Library materials can be borrowed for an indefinite period and are either returned or shared with others.  Surrounding neighbors often donate materials to the libraries.  Once established, many library caretakers, known as stewards, are relieved of regularly replenishing their libraries as communities become invested in the libraries’ success.


Sandy Coen & Florence Jain sharing a laugh

Meet Florence & Sandy

Florence Jain and Sandy Coen were one of the first, if not the first, Little Free Library® stewards in Central Ohio.  Since 2011, the couple have witnessed an explosion of little libraries and their awareness.  Constructed of reclaimed renovation materials like oak flooring from their kitchen, Sandy and Florence enjoy the personal details of their library, including honoring their cats, Moo and Simon.  In addition to their library, Sandy has built four other libraries, a Hobbit-themed library being among them.  As part of a larger community, the couple helped Kyrgyz librarians start the first three little libraries in Kyrgyzstan and participated in World Book Night.  Learn more about  their library and other activities here.


Artist Aaron Luther Thomas & Project Manager Evelyn Van Til at 4th Street Farms’ Little Free Library® dedication

4th Street Farms

4th Street Farms is a community-driven initiative to eat, empower, educate, and employ our skills together.

4th Street Farms‘ Little Free Library® is a direct extension of their mission to empower and educate and is a partnership with Bonga Media Group and the Weinland Park Community Civic Association.  The farm provides an inspiring setting for the library and also gives the perfect space for community events and readings.  Ohio Wesleyan University’s A Good Start School and other community donors have gifted children’s books to the library, and A Good Start School has committed to literacy programming.  Situated in a neighborhood where only 18% of the residents have full-time employment, the library supports “youth connections, literacy, education, safety, creativity, and a lifetime of engagement within a revitalizing diverse neighborhood.”  During the library’s dedication, Evelyn Van Til and Woody Drake spoke passionately about community and how the farm nourishes the body while the library cultivates the mind.


Jon Blake & one of his latest designs incorporating reclaimed stained glass

Jon Blake, Prolific Little Library Maker

Since October 2015, Jon has crafted 22 little libraries, starting with his own. Jon is a master at replicating the look of stewards’ homes, and his own library is a perfect likeness of his house.  He enjoys the sense of community that little libraries create, meeting neighbors and creating a neighborhood feel.  After 40 years in the commercial drywall industry, Jon found an artistic outlet in “retirement.”  His love of folk art and working with his hands originated in the creation of amazingly intricate birdhouses, growing to doll houses and then playhouses.  Little libraries are a natural extension of his folk art sensibilities.  Moreover, his own library has inspired him to become a reader.  Guessing he’d read a total of two books during high school, Jon shared he’s read 40-50 books since last October, especially enjoying Les Misérables.  Jon plans to continue experimenting with library designs and wonders if a little library art exhibit might be a possibility.


Cherry Street Library with art by Miss Birdy and Coreroc

Cbus Libraries’ Cherry Street Library

Cbus Libraries was invited to create a little library as part of PlaceMakes’ Cherry Street initiative.  The project re-imagines how we interact, move and engage with our urban environment.  The library welcomes pedestrians to W. Cherry Street while offering literature and nontraditional materials like yarn and knitting needles.  Aesthetically, the little library incorporates historical maps of its exact location from the late 1800’s while embracing contemporary urban culture with artwork by artists Coreroc, Covert, Ketchup and Miss Birdy.  In addition to the library, Cbus Libraries also knit bombed the adjacent pole with a crafty, cherry-inspired creation.  Learn more about how PlaceMakes is transforming downtown Columbus here.



We’ve mapped chartered Little Free Libraries® (in yellow) and independent little libraries (in purple).  Our map is open to edit with a Google account, and we encourage you to explore and enhance it.

With so many little libraries in Central Ohio, it won’t be hard to find one near you.  Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own!  In fact, let us know if you are currently or planning to become a steward in the comments below.

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Pickerington Public Library


Adult Services Manager Donna Matturri shows some of her favorite reads

Pickerington Public Library kicks off it’s summer reading program this month and on June 11 will host the third annual Teen Book Fest, an opportunity for readers to meet award-winning authors, like Gene Luen Yang, participate in workshops and enjoy a day of  reading celebration.  These events follow on the heels of the library’s Big Comic Show in May and are just a few of examples of the exciting services the library offers to create valuable experiences and opportunities for their customers.


The Big Comic Show featured over twenty Ohio artists

Librarian and Adult Services Manager Donna Matturri shared some of the amazing programs and services provided by the library. The library caters to a broad audience by providing a variety of services and programs geared toward all ages.

Adult services offerings include Reader’s Advisory and Staff Picks. Customers are invited to email library staff directly and are provided with personalized reading lists, based on personal preference. The library offers an array of programs for interest groups, ranging from book clubs to crafts, financial advice and lunch and learn programs.


Youth Services librarians Carol and April representing for the Big Comic Show

The Homework Help Center is not only a space for students to study and receive tutoring, the staff also offers afternoon ACT and SAT preparation programs and partners with Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical School to provide job prep and computer literacy classes.

The library features a dynamic youth services department, complete with its own mascot, Violet the Cow, designed by local artist Will Roland, who attends community events as a library ambassador. The enthusiastic group of children’s services librarians are attuned to their audience and provide programming to capture attention, including programs centered around Minecraft, Angry Birds, Lego and an annual Princess and Superhero costume party. Another popular program is Dog Tales, which, in partnership with the county animal shelter, pairs dogs with children who can practice reading aloud to a furry audience.


A farm themed entrance to the children’s department

The passion and creativity of the library’s staff create a vibrant and welcoming environment. Staff cares about the community they serve. They pay attention and react to the interests of their customers and are rewarded with an engaged and supportive audience. Donna shared that she loves her job, thanks to a great staff who make the work easy and happy customers who make it wonderful.

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OSU Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

OSU Billy Ireland Library & Museum entrance and lobby

OSU Billy Ireland Library & Museum entrance and lobby

The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Library and Museum is an extraordinary treasure and one of the few museums dedicated to comics in the world.  Started in 1977, the collection has grown to 300,000 original cartoons, 45,000 books, 2.5 million comic strip clippings and newspaper pages, and more than 5,000 cartoonists’ biographical files, including handwriting samples.  The library serves students, researchers and teachers, and the library and museum are free and open to the public.

Originals from Charles Schultz's Peanuts

Originals from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts

The library contains irreplaceable collections housed in a tightly-secured, temperature-controlled archive.  Visitors to the reading room are highly encouraged to call ahead to request materials two days in advance.  The library includes the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection with materials dating back to 1893, the International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection from the former museum founded by Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker and the Bill Watterson Deposit Collection…YES!  THE ENTIRE COLLECTION OF BILL WATTERSON’S CALVIN AND HOBBES IS HOUSED HERE!

Billy Ireland stain glass reproduction detail

Billy Ireland stain glass reproduction detail of an editorial cartoon published in the early 1900’s

The library and museum’s namesake comes from an influential cartoonist who worked for the Columbus Dispatch newspaper.  Billy Ireland stayed true to his roots and never left Ohio while helping advance the careers of others, like Milton Caniff who later helped start Ohio State’s comics collection and once graced the cover of Time magazine.  In the image above, Ireland editorialized the blight caused by Columbus’ flood of 1913.  Sketches that Ireland created to visualize a new downtown riverfront have been used to inform Columbus’ stunning Scioto Mile, demonstrating Ireland’s continued influence and cartoonists’ importance to civic engagement.

Librarian Caitlin McGurk holding an original drawing from Disney's 1940 Fantasia

Librarian Caitlin McGurk holding an original drawing from Disney’s 1940 Fantasia

Librarian Caitlin McGurk believes in the transformative power of comics and is a strong advocate for the art form’s appreciation.  Caitlin teaches classes on English, history, art, women’s studies, theology, psychology and ESL, pairing the needs of Ohio State’s students with cartoon collections.  Previously the head librarian of Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies, Caitlin is driven to give greater exposure to the art and artists that may otherwise be forgotten or marginalized.  She actively partners with her Ohio State colleagues and the community to extend cartooning’s legacy.

Varios manga

Vintage Japanese manga

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum is an indispensable resource for understanding the perceptions of popular culture, societies, nationalism and gender spanning over 100 years across multiple contents.  At every turn, the library, museum and staff offer a path to exploration and discovery.  We highly recommend visiting their current exhibits, exploring their online exhibitions, meeting award-winning speakers and joining them and others for the four-day, comics expo Cartoon Crossroads Columbus.

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