Visit to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights and Shaker Heights Public Libraries

June 18, 2014

Librarian Visits 2014

Librarian Visits 2014

State Librarian Visits- June, Cleveland Heights- University Heights

State Librarian Visits- June, Cleveland Heights- University Heights

State Librarian Visits- June, Shaker Heights Public Library

State Librarian Visits- June, Shaker Heights Public Library

Cleveland Heights-University Heights

On June 18, Matthew Dyer and I visited the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library and the Shaker Heights Public Library, neighboring libraries serving communities in eastern Cuyahoga County. Our first stop was the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, where we were greeted by Director Nancy Levin and Deputy Director Kim DeNero-Ackroyd.

The history of CHUHPL dates back to 1921 when the first Cleveland Heights Public Library was opened in the basement of Coventry Elementary School. The library has changed, moved, and expanded multiple times since then. The Main Library on Lee Road was built in 1968 and has been renovated and expanded several times to continue meeting the increasing demand for library services. The most recent renovation was completed in 2006. That renovation included building a bridge across Lee Road to connect the Main Library with the Library Activities Center located across the street. Nancy Levin has been Director of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library since October 2008.

CHUHPL is very busy with more than 600,000 people visiting the Main Library each year. The library has much to see and do for visitors of all ages. There are public computers located throughout the building, quiet rooms for studying or reading, meeting space, and collections that include a Home Repair Resource Center, music scores, and of course popular books, magazines, and multimedia materials.

The library also has some interesting artwork. In 2012, The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library was dedicated a Literary Landmark in honor of Harvey Pekar (1939-2010). Pekar’s widow, Joyce Brabner donated a statue of Pekar to the library, which is on display near the Harvey and Friends Bookshop, operated by the Friends of the Library. Other artwork on display in the library includes several watercolors and a Jazz Bowl by Viktor Scheckengost, a resident of Cleveland Heights who taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art for many years.

There is also artwork in the Children’s Room, where there is a colorful and engaging mural of children’s book covers. The covers are made of vinyl and can be changed. The Children’s Room includes a story time area known as “The Egg” and a puppet stage. There is a separate Teen Space that includes a performance space which is used for programs such as the Teen Poetry Slam. It also includes a Little Free Library for Teens built on the concept of take one/leave one.

One of the most unique things about the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library is its Book Bike Service. The Book Bike, a gift from the Friends of the Heights Libraries, makes appearances at festivals, parades and school events in the community, giving away free donated books and canceled library books. The library’s Book Bike was featured in an article, “Custom Library Book Bikes Roll Out Across US,” in the June 2014 issue of American Libraries.

Once you cross the bridge over Lee Road from the library to the Library Activities Center, things get really interesting. First of all, there is the Heights Knowledge and Innovation Center, or HKIC, is a flexible 4,000-square-foot space designed to support the technological and workspace needs of local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals. The space provides space for programs and collaboration spaces for small group meetings. The HKIC also features:

A computer lab with 26 computers featuring Microsoft Office software
Expanded wireless access in the HKIC Wi-Fi lounge area
iPad lending
A special collection of business- and technology-related books and magazines
A production work area and office supplies such as a copier, printer, scanner, and fax machine
A digital media lab

The Library Activities Center also houses the Small Business Development Center, which provides no-cost, one-on-one counseling for businesses that will, or currently do, employ under 500 employees. Additional services include training, e-counseling, quality-based assessments, technical assistance, loan packaging guidance, and information on federal, state, and local regulations and programs. At the time of our visit, Director Katie Van Dyke had been there just nine weeks and had already counseled 70 people.

Also located in this building is Little Heights, a family literacy playroom sponsored by CHUHPL and Family Connections, an organization devoted to providing early literacy, parenting support and school readiness services. Little Heights provides play materials that help parents and their children prepare for school by learning the art of counting, sorting, matching and much more.

The historic Dobama Theater resides on the lower level of the building. The Dobama, founded in 1959, is known for premiering contemporary plays by established and emerging playwrights.

Before we left CHUHPL, we had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with some of the library’s managers. Also joining us for lunch was Luren Dickinson, Director of the Shaker Heights Public Library, which was to be the next stop on our visit.
Shaker Heights Public Library

Our next stop was the 12,000 square-foot Bertram Woods Branch of the Shaker Heights Public Library. Located near a middle school, the library sits on two acres and is surrounded by green, outdoor space. It was built in 1960 and was on ALA’s tour of libraries when the ALA Annual Conference was held in Cleveland in 1961. A children’s room and basement were added to the library in 1991and a Reading Garden was added in 1993. The library was expanded in 1997 and renovated in 2003 and today, it is a busy, modern, full-service library serving residents in the northeast corner of Shaker Heights.

Front of the Bertram Woods Branch Library The Bertram Woods Reading Garden

The Main Library occupies the former Moreland Elementary School – exterior view of building 8. The Play and Learn Station was initially funded with an LSTA grant from the State Library of Ohio.

From there, we traveled to the Main Library, which is located in the former Moreland School, which was built in 1926. A playground and an athletic field are located next to the library. The library moved into the building, which is owned by the city, in 1993. Renovation of the approximately 65,000 square-foot building has been gradual. Primary public spaces were given first priority. Offices and meeting rooms were renovated later.

In addition to the adult, teen, and children’s areas of the library, which provide comprehensive collections and robust services, the library also offers multiple meeting spaces that vary in size to accommodate large and small community groups and organizations. The library’s rooms are used for SHARP (Student Health Advocates Reaching Peers), a local health education program, in addition to GED classes and many other community offerings. The library also offers a Silent Study room for patrons needing a quiet environment for reading or studying.

Two particularly interesting features are the Play and Learn Station and the Community Entrepreneurial Office (CEO). The Play and Learn Station, sponsored in partnership with Family Connections, is an imaginative, hands-on, parent/child literacy learning center that helps prepare children (ages birth to five) for kindergarten. Initial funding for this program was provided in part by an LSTA grant through the State Library of Ohio. The CEO was made possible with an LSTA entrepreneurial grant through the State Library of Ohio and provides users with access to the business equipment and services they need, along with ready access to Shaker Library’s reference and information resources. The CEO also offers office space that CLEVNET library cardholders can reserve to meet with clients and to carry out business. Each work area has a computer workstation equipped with software. The CEO is connected to the library’s new computer center and training lab, which offers training on a wide array of technology topics.

Before wrapping up our visit, we had the opportunity to hear about the library’s plans for the future. The library board recently commissioned a feasibility study that examined its current facilities and offered some options for the future. The library’s administration and board will be reviewing and discussing this options as well as gathering input from the community, over the next few months.

We had a great time visiting libraries in Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights and we’d like to thank Nancy and her staff at CHUHPL and Luren and his staff at SHPL for their hospitality!