Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Several weeks ago, during pre-Election days, I noticed the political campaign signs around town. One that stood out was Cuyahoga Community College’s slogan, “Tri-C—where learning begins.” That’s not a bad slogan, but it struck me that learning should begin a lot sooner than after high school.
Many libraries have changed their old slogans or created new ones to be more reflective of this technological age. The American Library Association pushed the phrase “Read, Learn, Connect!” At another library, we altered it to “Read, Learn, Enjoy!” Even the current ALA publicity effort is a follow-up to “Read, Learn” with “@ your Library” affixed as a suffix to a variety of programs and events. “Join the Major Leagues @ your Library,” for example, was a national “@ your Library” program.
Cleveland Public Library dubs itself “The People’s University.” Cuyahoga County Public Library contends that, “Browsing is just the beginning,” while Cleveland Heights-University Heights suggests “Opening Doors, Opening Minds.” Lakewood Public Library proclaims, “Knowledge Illuminates Opportunity.” Some libraries use phrases such as “Discover, Explore, Inspire, Grow;” others tout their services through alliteration, “Information, Inspiration, Imagination.”
Many large public libraries, such as the Philadelphia Free Library, the Chicago Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library don’t seem to have slogans. That puts Shaker Heights Public Library in good company because we don’t have a slogan either! If we did, I expect it would emphasize the concept of learning throughout a lifetime. Several years ago I was part of a statewide group in Ohio that won an award for the slogan “Libraries: Learning for Life.” It is a phrase that still rings true.
More and more, researchers are discovering that it is never too early to learn. That is why it is important for Shaker Library to continue to collaborate with the Shaker Family Center on the Play and Learn Station at the Main Library. This free, literacy-based, drop-in program is available for children from birth to 5 years who are accompanied by a parent or caregiver. The Play and Learn Station serves more than one hundred preschoolers each day it is open. The Play and Learn Babies program, geared to children from birth to 18 months, is an integral part of this service, as are the many other outreach efforts and reading programs we offer for children.
According to some experts, our youth have been getting “smarter” for decades. Researcher James Flynn has shown that from 1947 to 2001, average IQ scores increased by 17 points—and the rate of increase has accelerated in recent years. A score in the top 20% in the 1940s might only be average today. The theory is that radio, TV, computers, and especially video games have wired our brains differently so that we are capable of thinking at different levels than in the past. That’s why it is important for the Shaker Library to continue its outreach to teens through the Teen Center to ensure that our materials and services are up-to-date and in the latest formats.
Other interesting studies have shown that seniors who exercise their minds, through reading, book discussion groups, and similar pursuits, live longer healthier lives. Public libraries provide learning opportunities for folks from “cradle to grave”—though I think that slogan is used elsewhere. Nevertheless, continuous learning is the key for everyone in today’s society. Shaker Library provides the opportunity to learn regardless of your age, income or education. What better slogan, then, than to promote the Shaker Library as the place “where learning never ends!”
Luren E. Dickinson,