Our 21st Century Library

The 21st Century Library campaign was a capital fundraiser for renovations to the Tompkins County Public Library. The input and contributions of the community are indispensable in envisioning the future for TCPL. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the community, the campaign, which concluded on June 30, 2016, raised $3.59 million! A celebration and unveiling of the renovated facilities took place on October 13, 2017

Funds from the campaign have been used to create a new teen center, the Makerspace and Digital Lab, a Local History room, expand collections, sustain annual programming, and grow the endowment now, and in the future, through bequests.  With these investments in our library, together we will help give people the tools and knowledge to succeed and thrive in today’s information-rich environment. 


Our 21st Century Library fundraising campaign included the creation of an 8-foot by 8-foot LEGO model of our reimagined library (pictured above). Being able to help create and visualize the changes to come really got our community fired up to improve TCPL's services, spaces, and collections. The first project of its kind in a public library in the country, the TCPL LEGO Build brought together library lovers and LEGO enthusiasts of all ages. 

None of these renovations and expansions would be possible without our donors. To show our gratitude, donor names can be views on our book sculpture, lovingly named "Hatch," on display near the music collection. 

Thank you to our community sponsors!


The Edward J. Smith Teen Center showcases some of the best innovations, technology, and print materials that today’s libraries have to offer. Teens need a place to gather as part of the larger community while having their particular needs met. In the Teen Center, they now have a welcoming, safe venue for their time out of school. Most importantly, local teens were engaged with the creation of the center from the very beginning.

The Teen Center features:

  • Traditional collections (books are still devoured by teens!)

  • Mobile technology to keep them connected, whatever their available access in the world outside

  • Flexible, comfortable spaces for studying, reading, doing homework, working in groups, and attending programs

  • Materials and programs designed to help develop critical 21st-century skills, such as the 4 C’s (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation) and to familiarize teen patrons with the breadth and depth of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines

  • Librarians and staff who are ready, willing, and eager to respond to needs; teens will continue to have input into their surroundings, materials, and programming, good training for involving our young people in the community and as citizens.


Our digital classroom is a truly 21st-century learning lab. Our goal is to help patrons gain digital literacy and develop skills to enable full participation as citizens and members of our community. It is a welcoming space for techies and newbies alike.

The Digital Classroom features:

  • group programming and one-on-one instruction designed to develop digital literacy

  • Instruction on online tools for searching for employment

  • Assistance creating online accounts (email, social media such as Facebook or Twitter, and social services)

  • Support in learning to use productivity tools like Microsoft Office, genealogy software, or resume building programs

  • STEAM themes that will build on what students are learning in school


The lab is also available for self-paced learning in computer literacy and development​.


TCPL has responded to calls for more creative and collaborative spaces, where patrons can dream, create, and collaborate. The do-it-yourself trend has informed the creation of our Makerspace, which includes tools for creativity as well as programming that enriches the experience of creation.

The Makerspace includes:


  • Digital media equipment, including a 3D printer and software for making music, videos, games, and podcasts 

  • Crafting tools for expressing creativity, including sewing machines and laser cutters that can handle a variety of materials

  • Space to spread out and brainstorm

  • Programming that will demonstrate how to share your creations online



  • Office space for Tompkins County historian Carol Kammen

  • Programming about the history of the area

  • Historical documents, maps, and books


The collections at TCPL continue to grow and shift in response to the needs of our community. That’s because the library belongs to everyone, whatever their background or situation. The collection, which includes not only books, DVDs, CDs, audio books, and periodicals, but also intangibles made available by the magic of digital downloading: e-books and magazines, streaming movies, TV shows, music, as well as research databases. The collection is at the very center of our library, and it is nearly 100% privately funded!

Keep an eye out for new additions to the collection:

  • More non-fiction books in response to the demands of the new Common Core State Standards

  • More resources focused on early literacy and school readiness

  • Broader collections to support curriculum for teachers and homeschoolers

  • A collection that nurtures teens’ love of reading, as evidenced by data showing they are reading more than ever!

  • Up-to-date resources to support speakers new to the English language and to support literacy for adult learners

  • Resources on employment trends and careers exploration for job-seekers

  • Publications and databases that help small businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs support their growth and success