From the Director

From the Director: April 1, 2016

“Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene V

A public library has many roles and one of them has been described as being an incubator for the arts.  This is the time of year when many of the arts are promoted.  March 19 was National Quilting Day. April is National Poetry Month and Jazz Appreciation Month, and April 21 is National Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Traditionally, the Arts are divided into architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, dance and theater/cinema, but have more broadly included textile arts, photography, graphic arts, crafts, etc. Shaker Library promotes all of the arts through its many art-related exhibits and programs. The Cavani String Quartet performance at Main Library in late January and the African-American Quilt exhibit in February are just two recent examples.

Perhaps the premiere Shaker Library art event is the Barbara Luton Art Competition, now in its 17th year.  Submissions are juried and the best pieces receive awards with the Best of Show being purchased by the library and displayed for the community to enjoy for years to come.  The 2016 gallery-opening reception and awards ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Main Library. This year’s exhibit of local art will be available for viewing on the Main Library second floor through May 1.

The library’s art programs are not limited to adults either.  For youth ages 8 to 11, we will offer 2D Video Game Design Classes from 4:15-6:15 p.m. every Wednesday, April 6 through May 11 and 3D Video Game Design classes for youth ages 12 – 15 in the Main Library’s second floor Training Lab from 4- 6 p.m. every Thursday, April 7 through May 12. Participants will be taught skills by experts from Funutation Tech Camps so that they can create their own 3D video games.  The Teen Center will sponsor “5-Minute Poetry for Teens!” this month.  This drop-in program will take place from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, through Thursday, April 28, and will include a unique experience each day.

Saturday afternoon, April 9 we will collaborate with Literary Cleveland when to offer Vital Signs, a poetry workshop with Susan Grimm. Friday, April 29, school-aged prize winners will be announced at the Poster and PoeTree Contest Awards Ceremony, co-sponsored with the City’s Advisory Board, at 4 p.m. at Main Library.  And early next month, at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening, May 6, Shaker Library will host Art Exposed VII with the Shaker Heights High School Art Department.

Of course, we also offer our ongoing Knit Night and Knit Morning programs, the new Coloring Club for Adults, and Poetry in the Woods,the longest running public library series of its type in Ohio!  Even the Library Board is getting into one of the arts—architecture—as it continues working with HBM Architects to refine the renovation possibilities for both the Main Library and Bertram Woods Branch.

Check the Shaker Library website regularly for the dates and times of all our programs and events. While you are there, check out Billy the Bard on the Shakespeare Cam as he promotes the upcoming First Folio exhibit in June and July at Cleveland Public Library.

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

 

From the Director: March 1, 2016

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
―William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V

What is the measure of quality library service today? This question is being asked around the country as libraries wrestle with meeting expectations in today’s technological world. People are still using libraries, but differently. How do we meet the changing needs of the public, and are there ways to track our success?

The traditional statistic used by libraries has been to count the number of items checked out to customers. Those numbers ballooned beginning in the 1980s as libraries became a magnet for new users who were interested in music cassettes, books on tape, and the new videocassettes. Over the years, formats changed to CDs and DVDs, but the numbers continued to grow. With the growth of Internet and online access to music, audiobooks, and movies, however, the “video bubble” burst about five years ago and we are now experiencing a dramatic decline in the checkout of audiovisual items as reflected in the chart below.

video bubble

At the same time, the number of books borrowed by the public is declining but at a much lower rate than AV items, while the use of eBooks continues to grow significantly. In fact, for the months of January and February, the circulation of eBooks purchased and restricted to use by Shaker Library cardholders only (and not available to other CLEVNET users) has doubled over the same time last year. If trends continue, the number of physical books and the number of eBooks borrowed should be about equal by the year 2026 with overall “book” circulation about the same as it has been over the past 40 years!

For the future, best practices include providing group study and meeting room space, which Shaker Library has offered for decades; experimenting with new things like hotspots, makerspaces, etc.; removing barriers to access (such as restrictive policies, excessive fines and fees, etc.), and giving the public what it wants whether it might be as non-traditional as cake pans and gardening tools! The latest in strategic planning for libraries is to gear their objectives not just to community needs, but also to solving community problems. New job titles like  Community Engagement Librarian reflect this approach, but good librarians, including Shaker Library staff, have always been involved in their communities and have looked for ways to help their citizens advance.

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

From the Director: February 1, 2016

“Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.” Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

The aging infrastructure of Shaker Library’s Main facility was quite noticeable to staff and public alike Tuesday, January 19, when the building was opened  following the MLK Day holiday.  The trouble?  No fire burn, and cauldron bubble! The 23-year-old, dual-boiler system had stopped working sometime between closing on Sunday and opening on Tuesday.  Interior temperatures had fallen below 50 degrees, as it was quite frigid outside that day. While the boilers were eventually restarted, it was taking  too long to heat the building so it was necessary to close for the health and comfort of all.

Despite that setback, excellent progress was made during the month with the installation of new HVAC controls throughout the building.  The expected completion date for the entire project is early February.  The new system is web accessible, providing staff the ability to  monitor and adjust temperatures on a room-by-room or area-by-area basis.

No matter how great the controls, however, they are only as good as the boilers and air conditioning system units to which they are connected!  The actual replacement of the controls system was recommended in the Facilities Assessment and Maintenance Master Plan prepared by HBM Architects and presented to the library in April 2014. We are on schedule with the maintenance timeline in terms of installing the new “building automation system” slated for 2016.  In fact, we are actually ahead of schedule because the current project also includes replacement of VAV boxes—Variable Air Volume devices—that  keep each thermostatically controlled room or area at the desired level of heating or cooling, which were listed to be done in 2017.

Another bit of good news is that the cost of the current controls project will be well under $120,000, which compares quite favorably to the scheduled estimate of more than $300,000!  Nonetheless, Shaker Library still faces facility and maintenance costs approaching $4 million at the Main Library and $1 million at the Bertram Woods Branch over the next 10 years, including nearly a half million dollars to replace the boilers and the chiller at their end of life in 2019!

In light of the survey last summer that measured the attitudes of residents about Shaker Library, the Library Board will continue its strategic planning efforts to provide the best service for the community. The Library hired the R Strategy Group to assist in its efforts to inform the public of the need for long-term improvements.  Secondly, the Board will look at a variety of options for enhancing facilities and services with the bottom line of maximizing the use of tax dollars.

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

From the Director: January 2016

“If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me.” Macbeth, Act I, Scene III

As we enter a new year, it is wise to take stock of how we fared in the past year.  2015 was a good year for Shaker Library. More than a million items were checked out for the 15th consecutive year! That is quite an accomplishment considering the competition from Amazon, Redbox, Netflix, cable providers, and the Internet in general!

Considering that the 1,000,000 milestone was first achieved in 1996 and that this level has only been accomplished 17 times in the library’s history, it is even more amazing that the streak has continued uninterrupted for a decade and a half.  It is certainly remarkable that our figures this past year were so good considering the construction projects in and around both library locations, including work on Fayette, Chagrin, Warrensville and Van Aken, as well as construction of the new Lee Road RTA stop, which is nearing completion.

It is not difficult to understand why the circulation of physical library materials has plateaued in recent years with the advent of more digital devices and the availability of content via downloading and streaming. Shaker Library marked its record number of checkouts in 2008. That year was also a record for the most print and non-print items checked out in the history of the library.

The year 2015 still holds up well when compared to past years. The use of electronic material continues to climb with an all-time record of nearly 60,000 uses, a 30% increase over 2014.  That figure represents nearly 6% of the overall total annual circulation, a 50% share increase compared to the just under 4% of total circulation the previous year.  Perhaps in tandem with the increased use of eMedia, use of the library website was up more than 25% over the past twelve months.

The number of people visiting the library also seems to be stabilizing on a year-to-year basis. Attendance at programs climbed slightly, even though fewer programs were offered!  Public use of meeting rooms continues to be steady as does the use of public computer workstations.  The latter may be leveling off, but due to a switch in the computer time-management software, a valid statistical comparison cannot be made until later in 2016.

One of 2015’s notable accomplishments was the first joint countywide summer reading program, “Make Your Summer Count,” in collaboration with several other library systems and cultural institutions. While the program was successful, the joint effort in 2016 will focus on a program during September’s Library Card Sign-Up Month to put library cards in the hands of all school children in Cuyahoga County.

In 2016, Shaker Library will offer more STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) programs for youth, and will provide additional support to Family Connections to enable the “Play & Learn Babies” program to be brought back to the schedule in April. Cooperative efforts continue with the Shaker Schools in terms of the achievement gap, art exhibits, early childhood education, and reading improvement.  The Library will also participate with the Schools in its planning process for facilities.

Using endowment funds, the Library has engaged the services of R Strategy Group to begin an education program to make the public more aware of the library’s financial obligations due to costly maintenance and facility needs.

happy new year2Cleveland Public Library and Shaker Library collaborated on a grant to display Shakespeare and His First Folio. Offered by the American Library Association Public Programs Office, in collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library and Cincinnati Museum Center, the tour is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Because we were selected to display the exhibit at Cleveland Public Library from June 20 -July 30, we have declared 2016 “The Year of the Bard.”

In a lighter vein, the library’s bobblehead mascot, “Billy the Bard,” will represent Shaker Library all year—even on holidays!  Follow him on the library’s “Shakespeare Cam,” to see what he’s up to throughout the year!

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

From the Director: December 2015

shakespeare

“In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”  –Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene V

Cleveland Public Library, Great Lakes Theater, Shaker Library, and other grant participants learned recently that they were selected to host “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” This exhibition will travel to more than 50 locations next year, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare, the famous poet and playwright, is regarded by most as the greatest writer of the English language. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, died there in 1616, and has been called England’s national poet, the “Bard of Avon.”

In celebration of the many activities surrounding the exhibit, Shaker Library has declared 2016 as the “Year of the Bard.” We hope to draw people to the library’s website through the use of a 24-hour-a-day “Shakespeare Cam,” featuring our bobblehead mascot, “Billy the Bard.” He will help publicize “Bard-related” events, including a performance at the Main Library, as well as other library programs throughout the year.

The actual “First Folio” will be housed in a secure, climate-controlled case within the Rare Books Room at Cleveland Public Library from June 20 to July 30, where it will be available for public viewing. Cleveland is one of only five public libraries to host the Folio—the other locations being 23 museums, 20 universities, three historical societies, and a theater. Published in 1623, just seven years after Shakespeare died, it is one of 80 copies owned by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, among just over 200 in existence worldwide. Single copies have been valued in excess of $5 million dollars!

Grant funding for the exhibit comes from the American Library Association in collaboration with “the Folger” and the Cincinnati Museum Center, and includes major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as generous donations from Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf.

Visitors will be able to view the valuable volume, which contains 36 of 38 plays written by Shakespeare, including all but two of his lesser known comedies: Pericles, Prince of Tyre, and The Two Noble Kinsman. At each site, the First Folio will be opened to the most quoted line from Hamlet, “to be, or not to be, that is the question.” The exhibit will be accompanied by six interpretive panels with background information on the Folio, Shakespeare, and his times, exploring his impact then and now. Digital content and interactive activities will also be included.

Since Tuesday, December 1 is Giving Tuesday and since December is the season of giving, may I suggest a donation to the Library, the Library Endowment Fund, or the Friends of the Shaker Library? Your gift will help sustain the library and the Friends. Please consider a gift to benefit all readers. I thank you in advance in the words of Shakespeare, who said, “I can no other answer make, but thanks, and thanks.”

Be sure to follow “Billy the Bard” at www.shakerlibrary.org beginning December 31 and January 1 when he will celebrate the New Year. Watch for him daily when he will celebrate a variety of dates, including January 7 (National Bobblehead Day) and February 5 (The Friends’ “Literary Libations III” featuring drinks from Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas), March 2 (Read Across America Day), April 4 (Opening Day at Progressive Field), and many more!

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

From the Director: November 2015

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece entitled, “Reinventing the Library,” by Argentinian-Canadian author, Alberto Manguel.  He warns that today “the principal danger facing libraries comes. . .from ill-considered changes that may cause libraries to lose their triple role,” which he defines as

  • preserving society’s memories,
  • providing the materials and tools to navigate those memories, and
  • maintaining the library as a symbol of our collective identity.

One could quibble as to whether his definition of the library’s role is accurate.  He certainly knows a great deal about the history of libraries and spends a considerable time describing antiquity’s famous Library of Alexandria.  But when it comes to libraries in the United States during this current era, he appears to be a bit out of touch.

He says that libraries have been “mere storage rooms of a technology deemed defunct” since the mid-20th century!  How can that be when the personal computer as popularized by the IBM-PC dates only from 1981?  The Internet itself was still in its infancy in the mid-1990s and eBook sales did not begin to make inroads into print book sales until this very decade!

The opinion writer goes on to say that “Most libraries today are used less to borrow books than to seek protection from harsh weather and to find jobs online. . .,” which is a completely outrageous statement! It might interest him to know that even though circulation has declined from all-time record levels nationally over the last five years or so, Shaker Library circulated 16% more BOOKS in 2014 than it did forty years ago in 1974!  So much for a “defunct” technology!

I think the author may be trying to help libraries.  He does say that the public “must be prepared to invest. . .more, not less funds” in libraries to allow the reinvention of services to take place.  But he may be doing more harm than good because of the way he describes library services of today.

His commentary emphasizes the homeless and those requiring social services, customers that are certainly overwhelming some urban libraries.  But that is not the case across the nation. Likewise, he talks about American librarians “routinely” giving “medical care” when the vast majority of professional librarians make it a point not to give advice in the areas of health, the law, and taxes!

Most everyone agrees that libraries are not child care providers, but he goes to the extreme to say that a library is not “a nursery or a fun fair” and singles out an Ohio library that offers “pajama parties.”  This librarian may not go back to the Library of Alexandria, but he certainly remembers other Ohio libraries that hosted pajama story times going back 40 years ago!  And Shaker Library has hosted the Play & Learn Station, a developmental literacy and learning center since the late 1990s, because we know that young children learn better through play. Play is a child’s work.

Libraries are certainly evolving, just like all other parts of society.  The columnist was obviously well intended, but he could have taken a more positive approach and described the way that many libraries are adapting to new technologies by introducing exciting new formats and services, such as preloaded tablets and innovation labs, while continuing to provide the traditional items and programs that many, if not most, still demand!

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

In Memoriam: Barbara Luton

Barbara C. Luton: December 26, 1928 – October 15, 2015
Barbara C. Lubarbara lutonton passed away peacefully in Portland, Maine in the early morning hours on October 15, 2015. Barbara was born to Colin and Ruth Campbell in Newton, Massachusetts on December 26, 1928. She admitted as a child to feeling a bit cheated by having Christmas overshadow her birthday (people would give her a “combination” gift, she explained). Barbara and her younger sister Nancy wore orange on St. Patrick’s Day, sang in the church choir (though she told the hospice chaplain that she “was beyond all that”), worked as a page at the local library and enjoyed sledding, ice skating and school. She attended Mather College of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. There she met Michael Luton, an Englishman studying American History. Upon graduation they moved to England and married in 1952. Joanne was born and Peter followed. The family returned to the United States on the Queen Mary in 1957 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio.

When the children were little, Barbara began her career with the Shaker Heights Public Library. Barbara reveled in books and earned her Master’s in Library Science. She advanced through the library system and served as Director for 20 years until retirement in 1994. Barbara guided the Library from a card catalogue and rubber stamp, brick and book institution into a digital and information technologies center of discovery and service, from a traditional whispering space to a contemporary, vibrant community resource. She promoted the values of libraries and literacy and voted for every school and library levy. In retirement Barbara wrote book reviews for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and planned numerous literacy and bibliophile events.
A determined walker, Barbara took long, arm-swinging rambles on the beach, through the town and in and out of park trails. She and Michael traveled enthusiastically. She loved the theater and the symphony and could knit while reading. Barbara’s feisty resolve and core of integrity and independence inspired and sustained her personally and professionally. She had opinions and spoke her mind with wit and without malice.

For many years Barbara and Michael gathered her sister, children and grandchildren at Goose Rocks Beach, Maine for sand castles, beach hiking, bird watching, laughter and lobsters. Visits with grandchildren highlighted each year, and much time was spent playing trains on the floor, reading stories, telling stories, watching enthusiasms blossom and values mature.
Barbara and Michael moved to The Cedars in Portland, Maine in 2010 where they enjoyed their neighbors and deeply appreciated the thoughtfulness of all the staff.
Barbara is predeceased by Michael Luton and Nancy Ricker, brother-in-law Colin Cornwall, and nephew Steev Cornwall. She is survived by her children Joanne Allen (Jonathan), Peter Luton (Linda Berg), grandchildren, Katherine Allen (Aaron Putnam), Emily Giarrocco (Brian), Colin Luton and Seth Luton. Also, survived by niece Debby Roy (Tom), and cousin Fred Campbell (Deanna), sister-in-law Enid Cornwall, and niece and nephews Philippa (Kevin) Bishop, Andrew Cornwall, and Jonathan (Naomi) Cornwall.

A family celebration of Barbara Luton will be held this summer at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. Barbara’s kindness and generosity, her civic mindedness, her dry wit and her devotion to family and friends remain to bless the world. Memorial gifts in her honor may be sent to the Shaker Heights Public Library, 16500 Van Aken Boulevard, Shaker Heights, Ohio 44120, or to a charity of your choice.

From the Director: October 2015

The Pew Research Center report, “Libraries at the Crossroads,” was released last month with some interesting findings that are important to Shaker Library. The study found that 89% of those surveyed nationally think that libraries “impact” their communities positively, which is similar to the 94% of residents surveyed locally who said “a good public library is important to the quality of life in Shaker Heights” per the recent TRIAD survey.

infographicOverall, the Pew Research Center’s findings indicate that Americans want their public libraries to: a) support local education; b) serve special groups, such as immigrants; c) help local businesses and job seekers; and d) embrace new technologies, such as 3-D printers and other high-tech gadgetry.

Shaker Library is “on track” in these areas: a) aligning itself with the Shaker Schools, using the “A+ Partnership in Education” model, with some success in recent years; b) offering longtime programs like “English in Action” ESL; c) establishing the Community Entrepreneurial Office/Career Transition Center (CEO/CTC) cooperative while reaching out to the LaunchHouse business incubator; and d) introducing digital devices to the public and investigating the concept of maker spaces. But there is more work to do.

Proponents of the “Libraries = Education” movement argue that this approach will help public libraries to reclaim their purpose in the twenty-first century as we see traditional models of physical collections and physical checkouts giving way to the virtual world of e-media collections and electronic access.

There is no doubt that library circulation and attendance have been declining on a national basis because of this changing landscape which has occurred since the start of the Great Recession. But now things seem to be in a holding pattern. A recent New York Times headline says, “Print is far from dead” with “signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print” and e-book sales falling by 10 percent during the first half of 2015. In the meantime, libraries continue to balance traditional and technological resources.

Out of these changes have come a few of new library philosophies. One is that the purpose of libraries is to provide a place for people to learn, to create, and to share. Shaker Library’s mission, “to build community and enrich lives by bringing together people, information, and ideas,” is somewhat similar, but the next step is to offer spaces that make it all possible. That leads to the second trend, which is to start thinking about designing library services and buildings around people and the way they use libraries instead of constructing facilities around stacks, equipment, and collections. Shaker Library has conducted two surveys of what people do when they are in the library, but it is also important to consider why they came to the library, what they saw when they arrived, and whether they got what they wanted!

Of course, Shaker Library still faces maintenance costs of $5 million over ten years that are beyond its budget. That adds up to about 60% more per year than is spent on regular, old fashioned books—that are still being used by the public. Additional funding is needed to get Shaker Library in 21st century shape!

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

From the Director September 2015

mortarboardRecently, the website NerdWallet named Shaker Heights as one of the most educated communities in America. This is old news to Shaker Library as we were aware of this fact back in 2011, when we worked with the OrangeBoy consulting firm during our strategic planning effort.  Shaker Library has been one of the best funded and most highly used libraries in the nation and that is likely because a highly educated populace demands great library service and a depth of resources not typically found in a district of this size.

The survey included those with high school degrees, some college, and further education from associate to advanced degrees. Interestingly, every one of the places that finished ahead of Shaker Heights was located within an hour’s drive or less of its state capital and/or Washington, DC, and was even closer to a very large university or multiple large universities.

Shaker Heights on the other hand is more than two hours from the state capital and nowhere near Washington, DC. In terms of nearby universities, the two biggest, Case and Cleveland State, have a combined enrollment significantly less than the University of Michigan alone. And the enrollments of just two universities in major metro areas, such as Harvard and Boston University or Stanford and UC Berkeley, dwarf the college population locally.

Certainly, the vast majority of the most educated people who reside in Shaker Heights work in education, the biomedical field, the legal profession, the banking industry, or corporate administration. But what draws them to the community is the housing stock, quality of schools, and, certainly, a quality public library system with excellent facilities and services, as well as an extremely deep collection made available through membership in the CLEVNET consortium.

Shaker Heights residents possess more than double the percentage of bachelor degrees as do all Cuyahoga County residents, and more than three times the proportion of master’s degrees. That is why it is important to note that through the CLEVNET consortium, Shaker Library provides direct access to more than 2.3 million unique titles, compared to just a half million offered by the county library system.

In reviewing the educational attainment data, Shaker Heights also stands out because of the sheer number of residents that possess master’s degrees, professional degrees, and doctoral degrees.  Shaker Heights is 16th in the nation in advanced degrees without the benefit of a more geographically populous or educationally prime location. In addition, Shaker Heights is number one in Ohio by a significant margin with 39.9% of residents possessing advanced degrees versus Upper Arlington, the next highest, where just 34.5% have earned such diplomas. No other Ohio community comes close, which makes Shaker Heights the most “highly educated” place in the state!

Therefore, we urge our highly educated audience to take advantage of all the resources, programs, and services made available through both the Main Library and the Bertram Woods Branch. Whether you are part of the “Brainy Bunch” just getting started with introducing your children to the world of reading, whether you are a “Regular” customer helping your older children with homework or pursuing your own education, or whether you are a “Heavyweight” user of the library in all its aspects, we have much to offer, from traditional books to streaming video and eBooks. Check us out!

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

 

 

From the Director August 2015

During this summer’s American Library Association annual conference in San Francisco, I attended a session by a generational expert about so-called “Millennials” (those born beginning in 1980).  She reported that the Millennial generation is becoming a growing part of the workforce.  In fact, according to this Pew Research Center chart, Millennials became the largest generational cohort in the U.S. workforce just this year:

uslaborforce

Currently, about a third of American workers were born since 1980, and by the year 2020, that number will increase to 50%.  Even more surprisingly, by the year 2025, 75% of the world’s workforce will be made up of Millennials!  Because of higher birthrates elsewhere, some countries like India and China already have more Millennials than the entire U.S. population!  Many are very well educated and skilled, some of them making their way to America to fill key positions than have gone unfilled domestically.

With all the talk about Millennials, people are forgetting about the latest population cohort—Generation Z.  Those in this group are sometimes called the “Homeland” Generation because they are not old enough to remember the events of September 11, 2001 even though they have grown up in an era that is very much concerned about terrorism.

Like Millennials, members of Generation Z have lived in a world that is full of technology and can be considered “digital natives” because they have not known life without the Internet, cell phones, and tablets.  With that in mind, Shaker Heights Public Library became the first library in Cuyahoga County, and the first among 45 CLEVNET member libraries in 12 counties across northern Ohio to offer the new Playaway “Launchpads” for checkout.

These easy-to-use tablets are pre-loaded with a variety of interactive learning apps for children from preschool age to grade 5 and up. They are grouped as learning packs under subjects such as reading, math, science, creativity, and critical thinking; or themed learning packs, with topics like princesses, animals, transportation, dinosaurs, space, fantasy, etc.  Shaker Library has Launchpads for ages 3 to 5 (Pre-K to Kindergarten) and ages 5 to 7 (Kindergarten to 2nd Grade)—see the illustration below.  Depending upon demand, ages 8 to 10 (3rd Grade to 5th Grade) and ages 10+ (5th Grade and up) may be added.

The tablets do not have cameras or wifi capability, which means kids cannot be accidentally exposed to undesirable content.  Housed in Youth Services, they are available at both Main Library and Bertram Woods. Only two devices may be checked out to a parent at one time.  The length of checkout is seven days.

launchpad-heroShaker Library hosted a Launchpad kickoff party July 7 with representatives from Playaway, a Solon-based business.  Of the original 30 purchased, all but 3 of the devices had checked out within the first few hours.

madison dogThe joint countywide “Make Your Summer Count—Read!” Summer Reading Program ends August 7 and has certainly been a success thanks to our many library and institutional partners.  Of note is our PR partner, WKYC-TV3, which has televised regular features during the course of the summer that have helped promote registration.  A big thank you also goes out to our countywide summer reading “spokeschild” Madison Reid.  This precocious 8-year-old has charmed everyone and she absolutely loved her “Read to a Dog” experience at Shaker Library last month.

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org