The Lloyd Library and Museum on Plum Street has housed nationally renowned documents on natural history, botany, pharmacy and medicine for more than 100 years, but a recent renovation makes the facility even more inviting to the public.

Maggie Heran, the director of the Lloyd, certainly doesn't miss the wires wrapped around desk legs, worn carpet, walls that no one could seem to remember being painted, and a conference room covered in dark paneling.

Her new desk looks like a sunken garden covered in hues of blue and green. The walls are covered with photos of plants and flowers from the library's research books. The conference room, now covered in gold wallpaper illuminated by tiny lights hanging from the ceiling, doubles as an art gallery currently showing contemporary botanical works from the Harper Studios.

"We are so honored to have our first art show be of a well-known Cincinnati artist," Heran says.

The updates were necessary to promote a better working environment, as the old office was almost unworkable, notes the director. A new computer workstation has replaced the old card catalog, but the cases of original botany books, plant scales, microscopes and medicine bottles are still on display.

A bookcase from the original library that was erected in 1898 was cleaned to look brand-new and now holds original manuscripts of John Uri Lloyd's science fiction novels, including his best-known Etidorpha.

Lloyd came to Cincinnati in 1864, bringing two pharmacy books with him when he began his apprenticeship at Gordon's Pharmacy. Tradition holds that those two books were the beginning of the Lloyd Library. His younger brothers Nelson Ashley and Curtis Gates, also pharmacy apprentices, soon followed Lloyd to Cincinnati. They eventually formed Lloyd Brothers Pharmacists, Inc. John Uri became one of the most important pharmacists of his time and the library grew along with the pharmaceutical company.

Nelson Ashley Lloyd guided the finances of the brothers, but is most notably remembered for his ownership of the Cincinnati Reds. Curtis Gates Lloyd was a specialist in Mycology, the study of fungi. Photography was his second love, and his camera resides in the restored bookcase as well.

The greatest discovery in the library is a work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It was widely thought that Rousseau wrote only seven books on botany until an eighth was discovered in the Lloyd Library. There are only two of Rousseau's hand-written books in the United States; the other resides at Harvard University.

This research library is open to the public. The staff encourages those interested to stop by for a visit whether they want to research or see spectacular Cincinnati history and art.

"In Rousseau's Own Hand: His Book, His Notes and Botany" and "The Art of Charley, Edith and Brett Harper" are on display. Lloyd Library and Museum, 917 Plum St., downtown. 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Free. (513) 721-3707 or