Progress is sometimes hard to measure, especially for an institution, but Shaker Heights Public Library has taken some significant steps forward this summer.
In June, to help create a safe and welcoming entrance to the Main Library we designated and marked a student drop-off/pick-up area away from the front steps. Then we installed signs spelling out “Expectations for People Using the Library” (including one at the Bertram Woods Branch). In addition, we posted “Library Hours” signs in key locations so that drivers approaching from either direction would be able to read the opening and closing hours for each day of the week without having to leave their cars.
In July, we hired a full-time Security Supervisor, Matt Tompkins, a retired Shaker policeman, who has also had experience with youth through work with the Cleveland Heights, Warrensville Heights, and Shaker Heights schools. In the short time that he has been on staff, Mr. Tompkins has already made some valuable contributions by helping us to tighten our security procedures, making improvements in our surveillance camera system, and identifying troublesome individuals.
Since we now have security staff at the Main Library for all hours that we are open, we can be more proactive in dealing with youth who visit our facility when school is in session. We have made arrangements with both the Shaker Heights City Schools and the Shaker Heights Police Department to deliver those students who should be in attendance back to the school where they belong. We also have a contact with the Cleveland Municipal Schools so that they can pick up their students. For their part, the Shaker Schools will no longer have an “open campus” for freshman and sophomores; a dress code will prohibit head coverings and saggy pants; and cell phones will have to be locked away during the school day.
Shaker Heights Public Library was fortunate to have been able to expand its Teen Center activities during the summer through a $16,433 grant from Cuyahoga County. With this funding, we were able to provide more hours and additional programs related to art, music, and computers. A significant and lasting benefit is addition of gaming equipment, including the Nintendo Wii, SONY PlayStation, and Microsoft Xbox 360, along with widescreen LCD TVs for each. Library staff has held “gaming afternoons “ for teens and plans are underway to expand the use of this new equipment.
The Library was also an important component of a successful planning grant application to the Cleveland Foundation, which will bring $175,000 to the community through the Youth Development Initiative. The South Shaker Neighborhood (including the Ludlow, Moreland, Lomond, and Sussex areas) will be the focal point of our collaborative efforts to develop constructive methods for engaging local youth during out-of-school-time periods. It is expected that work on this project will begin in October.
September is National Library Card Sign-up Month. A library card is free and provides access to a wealth of information. Do you have your card? September is also Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month. We have collaborated with The Lit (formerly the Poets’ and Writers’ League of Greater Cleveland) on three programs by writers for writers. Authors Mary Doria Russell, Scott Lax, and Paula McLain will speak to aspiring authors on a variety of interesting topics. In September we will also hold our 5th Annual Constitution Read Aloud in collaboration with the Moses Cleaveland Branch of the DAR. Members of the Shaker Heights League of Women Voters will be on hand to help people register to vote and to encourage civic engagement.
Yet again Friends of Shaker Library has been generous with us by approving $38,000 toward library programs and purchases for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. That brings the Friends total contributions to well over $100,000 during my tenure as Director. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” We can never have too many friends. I hope that all of you will consider joining me as a Friend of the Shaker Library.
Luren E. Dickinson, Director