Learning More about the East Cleveland Public Library

March 14, 2017

East Cleveland Public Library

Photos from January 25, 2017 - Bill Morris and State Librarian Beverly Cain traveled to East Cleveland to meet with Sheba Marcus-Bey, Director of the East Cleveland Public Library.

On January 25, Bill Morris and I traveled to East Cleveland to meet with Sheba Marcus-Bey, Director of the East Cleveland Public Library.  Ms. Marcus-Bey provided us with information about many of the library’s programs and services and provided us with a tour of the 50,000 square foot library.

The East Cleveland Public Library (ECPL) was built using funds provided by Andrew Carnegie and was opened to the public in 1916.  It has been renovated and expanded a number of times throughout its 100 year history, including the 2005 renovation, which included the addition of the Debra Ann November Learning Center and the Greg L. Reese Performing Arts Center.  ECPL is a school district library, serving the residents of the East Cleveland School District.

ECPL is currently engaged in making several improvements to the facility.  Carpeting has already been replaced in some areas of the library and many areas have been repainted.  Worn carpeting in the Auditorium was replaced with Nature Stone flooring, which is easy to clean and maintain.  Lighting has been updated in several areas of the building and there are plans to continue updating the lighting throughout the library.  The largest focus right now is to replace the library’s 40-year-old roof, which has multiple leaks in many areas of the library.  The library has retained an architect to begin work on the project.

ECPL fosters partnerships with several community organizations in order to enhance the services they are able to provide to the community.  They have formed an excellent relationship with East Cleveland City Schools to provide literacy support to children.  ECPL’s Literacy Specialist, Heidi Cohen, visits the district’s elementary schools each morning to provide literacy support and instruction for students in grades K-3.  Ms. Cohen spends each afternoon working with students whose classes visit the library for programs, activities, and study.

Additionally, ECPL is engaged in a partnership with the Cleveland Public Library for a Bold Beginning Early Literacy pilot program.  The libraries received a grant from the Ohio Department of Education to help advance childhood literacy and assist families. Grants were provided through the Family and Community Engagement program as part of Ohio’s Early Learning Challenge Grant program.

ECPL also has a wonderful partnership with the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center (ECNC), which rents space in the library.  The Center is primarily focused on drug and alcohol prevention and intervention, but is also involved in providing education and literacy support for youth.  The Center’s programs include the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School, a summer enrichment program for youth ages 5-18 that supports reading and learning, cultivates self-esteem and connects the needs of families to local resources.  Additionally, ECNC is a distribution site for Shoes and Clothes for Kids for the most vulnerable populations. ECNC distributes clothing items five times per year.

The library is also working to expand its services for older adults living in the community.   Adult Services Librarian, Leah Schmidt, is focused on reaching out to older adults in the community to learn more about their needs and to let them know what services and programs are available to them from the library.  Ms. Schmidt is also working to build and enhance the library’s collections.

The local ABLE program has space in the library where they provide GED preparation classes for adults.   The program helps adults prepare for the high school equivalency certificate with instructional support and practice tests.  The ABLE office is currently seeking a new instructor and hopes to offer classes again very soon.

The library building is an interesting blend of the old and new.  The library features several areas where public programs and meetings take place.  The Lower Auditorium has undergone recent improvements that include new flooring and lighting.  The space is currently home to an art exhibit created in collaboration with Cleveland organization, Shooting without Bullets, an arts education and youth advocacy program created in response to police violence against youth across the country, especially in Cleveland.  The exhibit was curated by Amanda King, a J.D. candidate at Case Western Reserve University.  The works of art were created by local youth.  The exhibit runs through March 31.

The children’s room, located near the Auditorium on the lower level of the library, has also recently benefitted from some updates.  The area has new carpet, fresh paint, and many hands-on learning toys to engage young hands and minds.  Next to the children’s room is the Debra Ann November Learning Center, which provides space for a great variety of children’s programming.

The main floor of the library is home to the Local History Room, containing information pertinent to the history of East Cleveland and Cleveland, the Adult Services Department, a large Teen Room, a Reference Room with a collection of workforce development materials known as The Job Shop, and a beautiful fireplace framed with tiles decorated with a Robin Hood theme, and a robust collection of Russian language materials to help the library serve the local Russian community.

The beautiful Greg L. Reese Performing Arts Center was built in 2005 and named in honor of the former library director.  The Center has a seating capacity of 230 seats and is home to a Steinway Grand Piano.  The Performing Arts Center is used for programs sponsored by the library and is also available for use by other groups.

Bill and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the East Cleveland Public Library and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about its many programs and services.