Cincinnati Library Rules!

I like books, magazines and movies. I, as you might have guessed by now, like newspapers, too. It should then come as no surprise that the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is one of my favorite places on planet Earth and that it continues to offer a smorgasbord of information, almost all of it available for the bargain basement price of $0 across its 40 branches.—-

The library announced today that a variety of other people like it, too.

Among the impressive facts:

• It ranks as the 10th busiest library in the nation with a circulation of 16.3 million

• It offers a sweet, ever-expanding collection of movies

• It was called a “Star Library” by Library Journal, a designation I'm assuming is a good thing

• It allows those otherwise without computer access a place to log on

• It was ranked No. 7 — its highest placement ever — among libraries serving populations of 500,000 or more by Hennen's American Public Library Rankings

• It counts 350,000 cardholders

• It's among the top 10 libraries — alongside Harvard University, the Library of Congress and New York Public Library — in terms of collection size with 9.2 millions items

• It, for the first time ever, surpassed the 5 million mark for number of items borrowed

• It jumped on the e-book craze as usage went up 55 percent

• It garnered 6.5 million visits, an all-time high

Last year the library also received two of the largest gifts in its history, as well as a sizable grant, all of which will help it continue to thrive in the future and allow it to add more impressive bullet points to the list above. More than that, it means it will continue to impact lives in lasting and meaningful ways. And don't forget its many hardworking volunteers and employees, a group that has been helping me since at least the fourth grade when I did extensive research for a report on Vincent Van Gogh — a report that ended up being so impressive as to compel the girl in the next row to lean over and kiss me when I finished presenting it in class. Sweet! Maybe that's why I still find stacks of books oddly alluring.

For the record, my favorite library memory was waiting more than an hour in a long, snaking line of eager citizens to vote in the 2008 presidential election at the Main Branch downtown. If only every Election Day yielded as much enthusiasm. Then there was the time I read Don DeLillo's hilarious and slightly sinister White Noise in one breathless eight-hour marathon session, altering my then-19-year-old perspective forever.

For more information on its various offerings or to find out how you can help the library remain vital, go to www.cincinnatilibraryorg.


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