Visiting Lakewood Public Library System

May 21, 2014

Librarian Visits 2014

Librarian Visits 2014

State Librarian Visits- May, Lakewood Public Library

State Librarian Visits- May, Lakewood Public Library

On May 21, Matthew Dyer, Head of Employee Services, and I traveled to the Lakewood Public Library to meet with Director James Crawford and Madison Branch Manager, Judy Grzybowski.

Before taking us on a tour of the libraries, they provided us with some information about the Lakewood Public Library’s buildings, programs, services, staff and community.

Lakewood is located approximately 5.5 miles west of downtown Cleveland and is known as the “City of Homes” due to its tree-lined streets graced with turn-of-the-century homes. The city’s population of 51, 385 is socio-economically and ethnically diverse. Lakewood is known for its excellent schools, parks, and of course, its excellent public library, which currently enjoys a Four-Star Rating from Library Journal.

The Main Library was opened in 1916 with a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The original 11,000 sf building has undergone several additions, including the most recent expansion that was completed in 2008. The renovation was designed by Architect Robert A.M. Stern and took the library from 55,000 sq. ft. to 93,000 sq. ft. . The library is stunning and includes a beautiful grand reading room and plenty of space for programming, which is one of the library’s hallmarks.

The Main Library’s collection includes more than 420,000 items and for me, one of the most notable areas is the collection of film and music. This collection is large and diverse and I would have no trouble spending a couple of hours browsing in this area. The children’s area was also notable due to its use of a lakeside theme, interactive play areas, and puppets of all sizes.

I’ve mentioned that programming for all ages is one of the library’s hallmarks. The library’s 2014 Spring and Summer Program Guide lists 16 Sunday with the Friends programs, 12 Meet the Author programs, 7 programs celebrating April as National Poetry Month, 4 programs in a series titled Judaism in Focus, 24 programs in the Lakewood Public Cinema series, and a whole lot more including Computer Learning Lab Classes, Story Times for Children, After School Programs, Computer Programs for Kids, Family Programs, Teen Programs, and Weekend Programs. There is always something to do and learn at the library! A few days before our visit, musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra performed a concert on the front steps of the Main Library on a Sunday afternoon. More than 500 people attended! The programs are presented with generous support from the Friends of the Lakewood Public Library, a robust group that has been active for more than 30 years. The Friends support the library in a number of ways, including providing support for the library’s Homebound Service, which delivers library items to the homes of Lakewood residents who are unable to leave their homes.

After lunch at Pier W, we traveled to the Madison Branch, a small 6,100 sq. ft. community library located next to Madison Park. This library is busy and is very much a part of the neighborhood it serves. The area around the Madison Park Branch is home to a very diverse population that includes immigrants from Somalia, Turkey, Albania, and the Middle East. The library supports these immigrant populations with a variety of ESL materials, a Homework Help Center that has been in existence for many years, and by presenting programs in partnership with other agencies and organizations. Children are a large focus of this branch, with its proximity to local schools and a large park. The children’s room features a collection of quilts titled, Mother Goose Collection, Original Designs, 1998. The quilts were hand appliqued and hand quilted by Alice Bader, a Trustee and Distinguished Friend of the library. The quilts feature Mother Goose characters such as Humpty Dumpty, Wee Willie Winkie, and Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.

Library Director James Crawford described the Madison Branch as a “gem of a library” and it truly is. The library’s current building was designed by architects Walker and Weeks, known for designing many prominent Cleveland-area buildings including Severance Hall, the Cleveland Public Library, and Public Auditorium, and was built in 1929. The branch was remodeled in 1956 and includes a collection geared toward the surrounding community, a computer center, a community garden, and meeting rooms. Discussions are currently taking place regarding a possible facelift for the library that would modernize it a bit while still retaining the charm and character of the 1929 original.

Matthew and I enjoyed our visit very much and are grateful to Jim and Judy for taking the time to provide us with tours of the libraries and share with us the many ways in which these libraries are serving the residents of Lakewood and surrounding communities.