Little Libraries 2017

We are excited to announce that United Way of Central Ohio has funded another two little free libraries for our Libraries Everywhere program!

This year we are collaborating with the King Arts Complex to honor artist Aminah Robinson.  We project to have the little free library in place at King Arts by early autumn, and we’re thrilled to be working with artist and former Robinson mentee, Bryan Christopher Moss, to paint Aminah’s portrait on the library.

Our second UWCO-funded little free library will go into Columbus’ Milo-Grogan neighborhood.  We are currently in discussion with resident and Melanincholy Fest Founder Apollo Akembe to bring to life a unique library honoring a special, long-time resident of the area, his grandmother.

For both libraries, we will partner again with Rebuilding Together Central Ohio and Half Price Books.  We are also excited for a new collaboration with The Conscious Connect to ensure we continue to provide diverse materials for a diverse audience.



Last July, we featured some amazing little libraries and community leaders who helped create them.  Our Street Art Library was born from a partnership with Transit Columbus and Placemakes for their Cherry Street project.  We are excited for our Street Art Library to be placed near The Lookout Shop starting this August.


We also started mapping little libraries beyond what is recorded at, and we encourage others to continue to add to our Little Library Google Map.


This year, we had an incredible experience at Columbus, Ohio’s Community Festival (ComFest).  We are honored that our Eco Library was chosen to receive funding from ComFest among such important community peers like Camp Lionheart and others.

We had an estimated 500+ conversations with festival participants, and we reached thousands who walked by or viewed our online posts.  We were touched by the stories that participants shared with us like how the book Double Fudge transformed a young man’s life and how a being born and raised (BAR) by a black single mother (BAR) inspired another man.

In addition to the grant, the Eco Library was made possible by the generosity and a ton of sweat equity by Half Price Books (Jeff Heydinger), The Lookout Shop (Justin Withrow), Lucida Dynamics (Doug Houdeshell) and Rebuilding Together Central Ohio (their entire amazing staff).



We are thrilled that the Eco Library’s permanent home is now with 934 Gallery.  The gallery focuses on bringing a fresh perspective to contemporary art through exciting and thought-provoking exhibitions, installations, performances and public art projects.  Come meet Cbus Libraries’ co-founder, Bryan Loar, at this year’s 934 Fest on July 22 as we dedicate the library in honor of Daniel Sebastian Loper.

We are humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response to our little libraries, and we are inspired by the creativity and personal stories of our communities.  We hope to see you soon!




Columbus Business First

Columbus Business First provides valuable business, leadership and industry information.  Central Ohioans and those seeking to learn more can use the news to make important business decisions, understand industry front runners and learn more about Central Ohio executives and rising leaders. The paper, owned by American City Business Journals (ACBJ), offers an insightful weekly publication and a variety of other resources including The Book of Lists, Forty Under 40 awards, daily and breaking news emails and other business awards.


Columbus Business First monthly publications

Research Director Robin Smith creates, edits and manages the paper’s many lists which are featured in weekly publications and collected annually to form The Book of Lists.  Robin leverages the company’s proprietary database, commercial databases, public records and online surveys to gather and analyze data for the lists. Topics for the list are decided by Robin, the editorial staff and ACBJ. In 2016, The Book of Lists contained 72 lists, but the number varies from year to year, depending on the market and relevant topics. June’s featured list explores Ohio’s Craft Brewers.


Reception at Columbus Business First

Robin shared her process for creating the lists. She sends surveys to businesses in the category of the list she is building six weeks in advance of the list’s publication date, and she follows up several times to ensure that the companies can participate. Information is self reported by the companies and verified through research and comparison from previous years. Lists are based on quantitative data and vary depending on the industry. Often, Robin works with the editorial staff when creating a list and stories related to the list subject are run in the same issue.

The job requires understanding and processing large amounts of data. Robin noted the largest list she complied examined 850 companies! As a member of an investigative reporting organization, she has learned new tips and tricks to help manage these kinds of data-intensive projects.


Research Director Robin Smith

Robin began her career in graphic design and worked with Business First as an ad designer for six years. Later, she performed freelance research services and co-authored Ohio Then & Now: Contemporary Rephotography. Her research and time in libraries and archives sparked her interest, which led her to complete her master’s degree in library science.

Robin enjoys that her work provides difficult to attain information, demonstrating a valuable skill for many businesses and individuals. In addition to her research, she leads classes for Columbus Business First subscribers on how to harness the power of The Book of Lists. Interaction with users gives her the opportunity to learn first-hand the value of her work. One small business owner featured in the minority-owned business list shared her company’s clients significantly increased after being featured. Now that’s making a positive difference!

Companies and individuals use Columbus Business First’s information for sales, recruiting, purchasing decisions and many other research purposes.  The work of Robin Smith and Columbus Business First is crucial for many in our community.

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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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Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Library

Sheila Campbell, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Librarian

“I’ll meet you by the pirate,” said Sheila Campbell, arranging our exciting and insightful tour of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium‘s library.


The pirate at the entrance of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Sheila was hired as the zoo’s first librarian in 1997.  At the time, the library was housed in a double-wide trailer near the entrance of the zoo.  Equipped with a computer and a small collection, she was responsible for creating and managing the library system for the large organization.

As we entered the education offices, where part of the library’s collection lives today, Sheila shared that her office has moved three times since she began.  Today, she has an office and maintains part of the zoo’s collection in the education building, as well as a larger library and workspace in the Polar Frontier building.  In the education building, we visited classrooms for preschoolers and summer camps, and we checked out Sheila’s office, a long, narrow room lined with children’s books that the education staff borrow for classes.  She showed us two large closets containing the biofacts and props collections.  These items include animal skulls and skins, stuffed animals and other materials that by zoo staff can borrow for presentations and programs.


Articles in the props collection


These guys are part of the biofacts collection.

Next, we visited the library space in the Polar Frontier building, which also houses Zoo School, a program for high school juniors and seniors interested in zoology.  Sheila often works with the students, offering access to the library’s collection, instruction on research and bibliographic citation and help with their presentations.


Books and displays in the zoo’s Polar library

As we walked around the zoo’s properties, Sheila greeted members of the zoo’s staff with a smile and by name.  We learned she often goes out of her way to meet with individuals face to face.  Building relationships and making herself accessible to the zoo staff has increased library information requests and the library’s impact across the institution and beyond.  Sheila enjoys being able to answer questions for keepers and other zoo workers.  She researches the zoo’s collections and leverages The Ohio State University’s veterinary collections, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ librarian list-serv and even reaches out directly to field researchers in order to answer tough reference questions.

A reference librarian by training, Sheila enjoys finding answers for her constituents.  In addition to assisting zoo staff, she also answers all incoming questions to the zoo.  She shared that she receives around 1,000 questions a year via email, phone, mail and in person via the docents.  We asked her the strangest questions she’s had to answer:

“Do turtles have lips?”, followed closely by “Can I have a monkey for a pet?”


The preschool classroom

Sheila offers a myriad of services to the zoo staff, beyond answering questions.  She manages 30 journal subscriptions, catalogs and keeps the collections, assists with projects and presentations and offers help to the education staff for their teaching and programming needs.  She teaches research courses and training for docents, volunteers and school teachers.  She also partners with outside organizations, such as the Fawcett Center for Sy Montgomery’s book tour for “The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness,” the Upper Arlington Public Library for a zoo related display and the Delaware Arts Castle on an exhibit featuring the zoo’s art collection.

Our tour of the zoo’s library left us in awe of the work that Sheila does, though it’s no surprise that an amazing institution like the Columbus Zoo has an amazing librarian to help with their information needs.


Pieces like this penguin can be checked out from the biofacts collection by zoo staff.


Pieces of the biofacts collection; it also includes eggs and bones from animals


Animal Behaviour Journal collection


Books in the library collection


A bone sorting chart in the biofacts room


Sign in the Polar building of the zoo


“Library security”

Ohioana Library


Stephanie Michaels, Librarian, and David Weaver, Executive Director of Ohioana Library

The Ohioana Library is a special library dedicated to preserving works related to Ohio, by Ohio authors and authors that have written about Ohio.

The Ohioana Library collects, preserves, and celebrates Ohio literature and other creative endeavors.

The library is open to the public, Monday through Friday, and offers a reading room for visitors to access the closed collection of materials. The library was established in 1929 by Martha Kinney Cooper, Ohio’s First Lady at the time. The collection was originally housed in the governor’s home, moved in the 1930s as the collection grew and then moved to its current, climate-controlled location in 2001.  Books are donated to the library by authors and publishers, as well as from private donations.  There is also a fund for purchasing rare books to augment the collection.

The organization maintains a number of projects and initiatives, including the Ohioana Award, which recognizes Ohio authors for their literary contributions to the state,  an annual book festival, in celebration of Ohio books, and the Ohioana Quarterly, a publication featuring books that have been added to the library.

The Ohioana Library is an amazing and diverse resource.  Their 75,000 materials include books, sheet music and biographical files.  The library has an impressive collection of scrapbooks collected from organizations around the state such as the Ohio Watercolor Society and junior music clubs.  Through a partnership with the Ohio History Connection, Ohioana has made portions of the scrapbook collection available digitally.  The collection of biographical files offer insight into the lives of Ohio authors through letters, photos and news clippings.


Scrapbook Collection


An album in the scrapbook collection


NAA Management Club Clown Unit Scrapbook


2014 Ohioana Award Nominees


1946 Ohioana Award for Walter Havinghurst’s Land of Promise


A sampling of the collection

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First edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin


Handwritten sheet music for Auld Lang Syne


Entrance gates at the Ohioana Library