A Step Back in Time

A colleague recently shared this post and these photos of PLCH's old Main Library with our department.  I was so in awe when I saw the photos.  I had heard people reference how beautiful the original Public Library was, but I had no idea just how breathtaking it was when it was still standing.  Here's a few of my personal favorites...

 Old Main Library from the 1950s [source]

 The Vestibule, which led into the Main Hall [source]

 The gorgeous Main Hall, note the pillars, spiral staircases, and stained glass [source]

 The stacks in the Main Hall, look at that light beaming in [source]

 View of the Main Hall reading area from above [source]

Entrance to the Main Library, with branch pages on the steps reading [source]

Main Library Art Room, on the third floor [source]

When I first saw these photos (and the rest from PLCH's "'Old'" Main Library" set) I think my jaw dropped and I might have drooled a little.  I mean, come on, how gorgeous was the old Main Library!?  The details.  The light cascading through the windows.  The stained glass.  But soon after I was hit with a pang of sadness.  I was sad that this treasure was gone, that I never got to see it.  It made me wish that more libraries had done what the Indianapolis Public Library did; keep and even restore your small beautiful treasure of a library and add onto it rather than tearing it down to make way for something larger and more modern.  Still, I am glad that the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County is making such an effort to document their past, as well as Cincinnati's past.  These photos are truly a step back in time and I encourage you to take a minute or two and look through the photos of the old Main Library on their flickr page.  Wouldn't you have loved to sit in that Main Hall and thumb through pages of some novel?

*In case you don't know what the modern Main Library looks like, here's a photo circa 1997.


  1. Holy mother of god. I could kill whoever decided to replace this with the ugly thing that's there now. Seriously, I'd punch them right in the face. And, hooray, shout out to the ladies in the last picture!

  2. Andrea and I were talking a few months ago about what a shame it was to lose that library. We are heading to Maine in October and I look forward to visiting the Camden Library, one of the oldest on the main coast. Plus it is right against the harbor, how perfect?

  3. Andrea and I were just talking about this a few months ago when we first saw the pictures. It was such a shame to lose that building just because they ran out of space. My sister is a librarian and has worked at two newly built libraries and she said both were built undersized. I guess it all comes down to budget.

    I am looking forward to visiting Maine this fall and we are going to stop at Camden Library, which is one of the oldest on the coast of Maine. Plus just look at that view of the harbor?

    1. I think it's a problem that a lot of libraries have...though I wonder if it's going to be a problem for much longer as so much is transitioning to digital. And especially with academic libraries, the physical journals are getting pitched left and right.

      Oh wow, how cool is that view! I'm super jealous...Maine/east coast in autumn is definitely on my list!! Unfortunately, I have a long travel wishlist, but one day Antoine and I will get there.