Visiting Chillicothe & Ross County Public Library

May 29, 2014

State Librarian Visits- May, Chillicothe & Ross Public Library

State Librarian Visits- May, Chillicothe & Ross Public Library

On Thursday, May 29 I had the honor of speaking to the Chillicothe Sunrise Rotary Club and watching as Nick Tepe, Director of the Chillicothe & Ross County Public Library (CRCPL) was welcomed as a new member of the Rotary Club by State Library Board member and former CRCPL Director Jennifer McKell. At the conclusion of the meeting, David Namiotka, Associate State Librarian for Library Services, and I met Nick at the Northside Branch of CRCPL for a tour.

Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library

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When the Northside Branch Library was opened in 1996, it was not only a busy branch library, it was home to many of CRCPL’s back room functions including Cataloging and Information Technology. The Main Library was overcrowded and landlocked and the new library offered the space necessary to house growing technology services and other non-public functions that had taken up precious space at the Main Library. It remained that way until August 2009 when the Northside Library had to be closed due to significant budget reductions. At that time, all of those back room functions that were integral to supporting the entire library system were moved back to the Main Library.

Since then, several developments have occurred which have not only provided for the reopening of the Northside Branch Library but also for the expansion of public space at the library. First, the library successfully passed an operating levy in May 2010 to support reopening the Northside Branch. Additionally, CRCPL was able to purchase a vacant school and land adjacent to the Main Library to provide much needed space to relieve some of the pressure on that overcrowded facility.

Nick has been the Director of CRCPL since 2011 and he has been busy getting the library system running up to full speed again, expanding library services in the community, fostering community partnerships, and planning for the future.

At the Northside Branch, what was once space for technology, cataloging, and other library support services, has been turned into public space, including space for meetings, programs, and technology training. The Northside Branch also has a Business Services Center with a variety of resources and equipment for use by small business owners and entrepreneurs. There is also plenty of room to browse new materials and to sit and read. Self-checkout and self-pickup of holds have been successfully implemented, streamlining the process for library patrons and maximizing the use of library staff time.

The Main Library is a Carnegie Library that was constructed in 1907. Near the entrance to the library is an Ohio Historical Marker commemorating Burton Egbert Stevenson, who, among many other things, was Chillicothe’s librarian for 58 years, and was instrumental in securing the Carnegie grant to build the library. There have been many recent space changes at the Main Library due to the purchase and renovation of the former school, which now serves as the Library Annex. Administrative offices have been relocated to the Annex to provide needed space for public functions. The Library Annex, doesn’t just provide space for library functions, it provides space for several community programs as well.

The Library Annex houses the Discovery Tree Family Resources Program, a community program of South Central Ohio Job and Family Services. On the day of our visit, Project Coordinator Maryjo Flamm-Miller was hosting the Discovery Garden Family Play Group, a special time every week for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to play and learn with their parents or caregivers. There was a large turnout for the program and it was obvious that everyone was having fun.

The Library Annex also provides space for the Children’s Clothing Bank sponsored by First Presbyterian Church. On each visit, parents or caregivers may select three outfits per child at no cost. Another section of the Annex provides space for the Pickaway Ross ABLE/GED Center.

The library-community partnerships making use of this facility are impressive.

Before our visit ended, Nick shared with us that plans call for connecting the two buildings in the future to bring the spaces together for seamless access between the Main Library and the Annex.

We enjoyed the opportunity to see and learn more about the Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library and appreciate the time Nick and his staff spent with us.