Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Libraries across the state of Ohio are experiencing budgetary difficulties as state funding, which has not grown in a decade, has declined precipitously in 2009. Shaker Heights Public Library is fortunate to have local tax support, and from the beginning of the library’s strategic planning process in 2006, well before the economic problems of today, our focus has been on streamlining operations to use tax dollars wisely.
One of the top priorities of our recently revised Strategic Plan is to make the library a more welcoming and comfortable place. A big step toward that goal will be the replacement of lounge chairs throughout the Main Library. Bond funds approved by the voters in 2004 will be used to put the first new chairs in this facility since it was converted from the Moreland School in 1993. The bond money will also be used for public restroom improvements, which should begin soon.
In order to use the remaining bond funds for the renovation of unfinished areas of the second floor and other enhancements at the Main Library, we must first renew our lease for the building with the City of Shaker Heights (extending it through August 29, 2033) and complete a joint use agreement with the Shaker Schools, allowing us to finalize the architect agreement. That process is almost concluded and will allow us to begin a planning process to redesign our services in terms of service desks, self-checkout, etc.
We continue to pursue grant dollars as another source of income. As we did in 2008, we are seeking outside funds to expand our Teen Center programs during the summer. Shaker Library is part of the South Shaker MyCom initiative that is requesting $21,000, with approximately $7,000 earmarked for library programs to engage youth productively during this out-of-school-time period. Our partners include Shaker Heights Youth Center, Shaker Prevention Coalition’s SHARP (Student Health Advocates Reaching Peers) program, and First Baptist Church.
Other possibilities for outside funding include summer youth employees through Youth Opportunities Unlimited. We have requested two positions to be filled by youth ages 16 to 18, at 20 hours per week, for six weeks. This win-win situation provides the library with extra help and teens gain job experience at no cost to the library, as the County will pay them the minimum wage for these jobs.
We are also looking into a variety of stimulus funds that may be available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Some areas directed at public libraries relate to technology and jobs for low-income seniors. The State Library of Ohio is coordinating efforts for public libraries statewide to add computers and new technologies, such as RFID, self-checkout machines, etc., or to improve continuing education through web accessible distance learning.
In honor of “Older Americans Month,” we will sponsor two morning programs with the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program on Medicare, and long-term care, plus an evening program on brain health with the Cleveland area Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, we will offer a series of computer classes geared to seniors’ interests and we will continue our Wii gaming nights for seniors!
Luren E. Dickinson, Director