“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.
Cleveland 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