A downtown library building facing uncertainity

Photo courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County | The board of trustees for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has decided to sell the North Building of the downtown public library. This incredibly controversial decision came just weeks after the library in question was named the second busiest library in the United States.

Despite being the second busiest library in the United States, the Cincinnati Public Library is planning to sell its downtown North Building in order for it to be repurposed. The services provided in the North Building, including the Children’s Learning Center, Homework Center, Maker Space, Teenspot, study areas and administrative offices are set to be consolidated into the South Building.

After the board of trustees for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County decided to pull public services funding from the North Building in June, the August board meeting was met with protesters who opposed what they saw as public land being taken into the hands of private investors.

“Let’s think of the people who really need those services,” sophomore Maddy Baker said. “If you’re an upper class citizen, you don’t need to go to the library to get a book… Let’s think about the population that needs it, and then let’s think about the population that is moving in and pushing (the local residents) out. It’s just another sign of upper class elitists pushing out that population. It’s a power play, essentially”

The Cincinnati Enquirer published a piece last week detailing the visions the seven public library board members have for the fate of the building. Several of the board members expressed a desire to make a decision that will better the surrounding community. The president, Allen Zaring, expressed a desire to redevelop the North Building “into offices, residential and/ or retail space.” The vice president, Barbara Trauth, would like to use the building “in the most efficient way.”

“Having worked in libraries, I think sometimes there are challenging decisions to make,” Alison Morgan, a Xavier librarian, said. “The board has to make decisions that support the library financially that help the library be successful (while) at the same time, contributing to the community. I can imagine that it wasn’t an easy decision for the board to make.”

The North Building of the library was built in 1997 and cost taxpayers an estimated $39.1 million by the time of its completion. CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, valued the current price of the building at only $8.48 million in July, according to the Enquirer.

It has not been confirmed when the final say will be made on what to do with the North Building. The contract for the Cincinnati Central City Development Corp. (3CDC) expires this December.

By: Savin Matozzi ~Copy Editor~