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As the library celebrates its 125th Anniversary, we've begun to evaluate how library services will continue to grow and serve our ever-changing community. In 2023, we completed our Strategic Plan that identified the need for more space throughout the county. With this in mind, the library is looking to establish more branches that will expand our ability to provide resources, services, and more to our community. 

Expanding to North Columbus

Frequently Asked Questions

At their April 15 meeting, the Bartholomew County Public Library Board voted to accept the generous gift from the former North Christian Church congregation, which encompasses the entire campus at 850 Tipton Lane.  Jason Hatton, Library Director says, “We are so very thankful to the members that entrusted the library to be the caretakers of this incredible property.  We are also thankful to the Columbus Capital Foundation that has been the interim owner while we went through our deliberative decision-making process.”  

The library celebrates its 125th anniversary this year and throughout those years, the library system has shown the ability to serve the community and be the caretaker of architecturally and historically significant buildings.  The Cleo Rogers Memorial Library which serves as the main service point was designed by I.M. Pei and opened in 1969.  The Hope Branch, built in 1998, was designed by Deborah Burke.  This proven track record of combining the importance of honoring the past while still providing relevant spaces for the present and future, demonstrates the ability to be a good steward to the building and grounds. 

However, as shown by the recent strategic plan and facilities assessment, the library spaces are at capacity.  Consequently, the number of services and impact within the community are not what they could be.  The opportunity of a gift of this magnitude allows the library the chance to move forward with financial prudence.  While renovation costs will be necessary, the new campus can be created for far less than constructing a new building. 

Since the library is supported mainly by property and income taxes, the Library Board is cognizant of the concern as to what this will cost the taxpayers of the county.  Hatton says, “We understand how important every dollar is. The library works very hard to be fiscally responsible with the money entrusted to us.  This project will be no different.”  By law, the library’s operating budget can only be increased by a small percentage each year.  Thus, the operation of the property will be absorbed into its regular, annual budget with no additional taxes.  Private fundraising and grant support, though, will be key to any future renovations.  Hatton does state, “It is possible the library will need to issue a bond for capital projects, but there will be many opportunities for discussion if that were to happen.”

The mission of BCPL is to be the community crossroads- connecting people, ideas, information, and experiences to empower everyone on their journey of lifelong learning. This is accomplished by a vision to create a place where all people feel safe, welcomed, and included; a place where all are empowered and supported; a place where spark and joy is inspired; and a place where all are flourishing.  The main focus of the library’s 2024-2028 strategic plan is to create community connections.  The acquisition of this property will allow the library to bring together many organizations and individuals for the good of all, especially as it relates to the 4,000 students within walking distance.   

The library recognizes the design significance of this National Historic Landmark.  The great talents of Eero Saarinen, Dan Kiley, and Alexander Girad are combined into a one-of-a-kind structure and campus.  It is iconic not only for modern architecture, but for the city itself.  The library will be respectful as to future changes made to minimize the disruption of the original design while creating a space that is energetic, fun, and welcoming.  The library will also work with the former congregation and cultural communities to transition items that may need to be rehomed. 

While the library will be taking ownership of the property, this acquisition simply represents the first step in a very long journey.  Hatton says, “I anticipate that it will be at least 2029 before the building will be fully operational.  There is much work to be done with community partners, architects, and designers.  It may be in the library’s name, but it belongs to the community, and we will work to make sure every voice is heard.”  The library does expect that the grounds will be used for outdoor programming, including for Summer Reading, in the near term.  This fall it is possible, the former sanctuary will begin being used for a small number of programs and performances. 

Hatton says, “It is the library’s honor to carry on the values and architectural legacy that this property represents.  May it ever serve as a beacon in the search for knowledge and connection.” 

Photo Taken by Hadley Fruits, Courtesy of Landmark Columbus Foundation