From the Director

From the Director 8/2014

Funding for Shaker Library continues to be a concern even as we begin a new fiscal year with the State of Ohio and the promise of slightly higher amounts from the Public Library Fund. The difficulty is that the cuts and freezes that began in 2001 and got worse beginning in 2009 have stripped the “buying power” of those receipts by more than 50% in less than a decade and a half.

Library funding from the state reached its high water mark in the year 2000. Shaker Library will receive $700,000 less in 2014 than we did back then. That is a one-third cut in actual dollars. When cost-of-living is factored in, however, the dollars received in 2000 were worth nearly $2.9 million in 2014 dollars, whereas we expect only $1.4 million from the state this year. The overall decline has been continuous as shown in the chart below:

funding from state 2000 2014

 

Looking further back, we can see that the 2014 funding from the state is virtually equal to the amount received in 1992—22 years ago! Again, with no adjustment for inflation. If the Library actually does receive the estimated 5% increase next year, it would only equal the state receipts of 1994. Put another way, we would have gained two years, but still be 21 years behind!

The “double whammy” of Shaker Library’s funding situation includes the “mortgage meltdown” during the so called “Great Recession” which has seen property values drop, and thus property taxes plummet, concurrent with the decline in state funding. Shaker Library’s property tax revenues reached a peak in 2009 but have fallen each year since. The loss of actual dollars per year has amounted to nearly $700,000 in a five-year period. When considering inflation, the loss in 2014 dollars is $1.1 million per year. Combined with the recent state cuts, Shaker Library has $1.2 million less in 2014 buying power than it did five years ago!

property tax

 

 

 

 

 

From the Director 7/2014

Bold predictions are often wrong, but they do tell us where people “think” things are going. Recently, we have read and heard much about eBooks and their use on digital devices, such as tablets and smartphones. This has led to discussion about the impact of technology on the use of public libraries.

According to a BBC report, eBooks will outsell print books by the year 2018. Others, however, feel that the growth in eBook sales will soon begin to decline worldwide as it already has begun to do in the United States.

It is interesting to note that the number of eBooks borrowed from the Shaker Library grew annually by 38% in 2009 (the first year we included the statistics with our traditional figures), 43% in 2010, 66% in 2011, and reached a peak of 71% in 2012. The growth rate fell to 41% in 2013 and we are at a 33% pace year-to-date through June 2014.

The bottom line is that even double-digit growth in eBook circulation from such small beginnings—we did not exceed 10,000 checkouts until 2011—has not really made an impact upon our overall numbers. So far in 2014, eBooks make up less than 4% of all items checked out. A random survey of some similar-sized public libraries in Ohio show no more than a 4% to 8% share of total circulation for downloadable material.

Part of the problem is the limitation on eBook access placed upon libraries by the publishing industry. Some materials are either not available to public libraries or have been priced out of the library market. And even the eBooks that libraries offer can be difficult to download because of copyright restrictions and vendor imposed “hoops” (as with Amazon Kindle material).

In our community, we have some who can afford their devices of choice and find it faster and more convenient to buy whatever they want rather than to struggle borrowing from the library or putting their names on a waiting list. At the other end of the spectrum, we have those who might not be able to purchase devices and who might be more interested in audio/visual entertainment they can access via cable TV or Redbox machine.

Another prediction says that by the year 2018 the viewing of TV programs and videos will account for 84 percent of Internet traffic with a volume that is two to three times higher than in 2013. Internet video already accounts for 78% of online use (and includes such things as on-demand movies via cable).

A third prediction says that online access via PC will drop from the 86% level of 2013 to 50% in 2018. 21% of the traffic will be through smartphones and 18% from tablets, up from 5% and 3%, respectively, last year! Is it any wonder, then, that overall circulation at public libraries continues to drop? Among libraries of similar size in Ohio, virtually all are seeing circulation decline in the range of 6% to 12% over last year. A few libraries may have modest increases, but that is due to an old building being reopened or a new location coming online this year.

In most cases, door counts have gone hand-in-hand with circulation loss, but at Shaker Library we continue to see increased computer use. Main Library is 14% ahead of 2013 YTD and Bertram Woods, even with 23% less hours available, is almost 1% ahead, for a combined 12% increase. We are living in a changing world and it will be interesting to track the progression of that change over the next several months and years!

From the Director 6/2014

The problem with the weather, as the saying goes, is that everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it! The same could be said about the so-called “achievement gap” in the schools. Politicians want to pour more money into “education” to “level the playing field” for certain groups of students defined by socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and gender. In Ohio, we now have the “Third Grade Reading Guarantee.”

What is it that causes some to do better in school than others? Almost everyone agrees that the key is to start early—very early! Children need to be talked and read to from the very beginning. Give them plastic books they can chew on and then board books with pages they can turn—and take them to the Shaker Library!

The Library and Family Connections operate the “Play and Learn Station,” for preschool children, their parents and caregivers, where children learn by playing in a variety of interactive settings with other children. We offer regular story times including, “Nestlings” for babies from birth to 15 months, “Fledglings” for 15 to 24 month-old toddlers, “Terrific Twos” for two-year-olds, and “Stories for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds.” From June 16 through July 22, we offer a “Baby Summer Sampler” for babies from birth through 23 months.

Once children reach school age, there are many more opportunities for educational enrichment. We host a variety of book parties for different grade levels and other book-related activities, such as the American Girl Doll series (for grades 1 to 5) and a Writer’s Club (for grades 2 to 4). In addition, we have provided free Homework Help after school through MyCOM grants (for grades 2 to 8) for a number of years during the school year. Our popular “Read to a Dog” events provide school-age children the opportunity to practice their reading skills with a furry, friendly certified Therapy Dog that loves listening to stories!

One of the most important things a child can do to improve educational achievement is to participate in the Summer Reading Program. Educators agree that to be successful, children must be exposed early to language and reading. Just as important, however, is that they must not fall behind during the summer when they are out of school. The sure cure for “Summer Reading Loss” is our “Summer Reading Program,” which is designed to encourage young readers by offering prizes as reading incentives. This year’s summer reading theme is “Get Creative—Read!” Beginning June 11 through August 6, children can earn prizes by listening to someone read to them and by reading or listening to books themselves. Prizes include colorful stickers, modeling dough, watercolor paint sets, design-your-own paint smocks, books, and medals thanks to our Friends of the Library which underwrites the programs and prizes.

Teens have their own summer reading program with weekly prize drawings for $10 gift cards and a grand prize drawing at the end of the summer for a Kindle Fire HDX! The number of hours read or listened to must be logged each week by 9 pm Wednesdays to qualify for the weekly drawings and reading for each ten hours earns a teen a ticket for the grand prize drawing.

Adults can model good reading behavior by participating in the Adult Summer Reading Program. Register at the Reference desks at either library or online at www.shakerlibrary.org and log your reading time to be eligible to win a Kindle Fire.

We can help close the “achievement gap” and help children meet the “Third Grade Reading Guarantee” by getting them involved early in reading and other learning at the Library, and by helping them maintain and improve their skills through the Summer Reading Program! Get Creative—READ!

From the Director 5/2014

May message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:

Shaker Library is completing its seventh successful year of association with what was originally called the Youth Development Initiative of the Cleveland Foundation, now known as MyCOM, or My Commitment, My Community. Working with Shaker Heights Youth Center and other core members of the Shaker Prevention Coalition, the Library began receiving grants in 2008, and our group planning efforts resulted in the South Shaker community being designated a MyCOM neighborhood from the beginning of the program.

This summer, MyCOM will provide dozens of jobs for teens, including some at Shaker Library. With the funding for these positions, our community will have received almost $1,250,000 in grants to provide out-of-school-time activities during the past seven years with one third of the amount designated to summer jobs for youth!

MyCOM is just one of the Library’s many community partnerships. The Shaker Schools are one of our strongest partners. In fact, public library service in Shaker Heights began in a school building back in 1922, and both of our current facilities are on former school property.  Bertram Woods was built in 1960 on land purchased from the school system and Main Library has been housed since 1993 in the former Moreland School building.

There is great interest in the latest Shaker Schools operating levy on the May 6 ballot.  Both Shaker Library and the Shaker Schools have enjoyed excellent support at the ballot box over the years. In fact, the last two capital bond issues for our organizations were joint efforts in 1996 and in 2004.

Shaker Library’s connection with the City of Shaker Heights has been equally strong.  The former Main Library building, opened in 1951, is now the city-operated Community Building, and the current Main Library was renovated in large part through city-issued construction bonds repaid by the Library.  To this day, the City retains ownership of the Main Library building and property, which it leases to the library.

At a work session on April 21, HBM Architects presented a Facilities Assessment to the Library Board of Trustees detailing the condition of both library locations. They also proposed a Maintenance Master Plan, which covered necessary repairs through 2025 that amounted to more than $1 million for Bertram Woods Branch and $4 million for Main Library.

The Library will review the information with our community partners over the next few weeks and discuss the cost ramifications at the May 12 Board meeting. The next major step will be to approve a Feasibility Study by HBM to “cost out” a variety of renovation, expansion, and construction options that will address the maintenance issues and better equip Shaker Library to provide 21st century library service.

In the last few years, the Shaker Library Board has met with other Library Trustee groups in the region to share mutual concerns and to develop new approaches by observing how other libraries operate.  We met with Cleveland Heights-University Heights in 2012, Euclid in 2013, and we will meet with Westlake this year – another example of Library partnerships!

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

From the Director 4/2014

April message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:

The public library is an institution of education and has been from its beginnings. The great benefactor Andrew Carnegie, who donated millions toward the construction of such facilities around the world, felt that public libraries provided free education, fostered growing communities, and gave people the tools they needed to succeed.

The public library is often called “the people’s university” because it is available to everyone, regardless of age, skill level or ability to pay.  Over the years with the advent of more entertainment material, especially in audiovisual and digital format, however, the educational impact of public libraries has become undervalued.

Howard County Library in Maryland, Library Journal’s “Library of the Year for 2013,” is one library is particular that has been begun re-emphasizing the educational importance of public libraries through its “A+ Partnership in Education” with the Howard County Public School System.

This “A+” collaboration between the public library and the public schools formalized many of the cooperative efforts that often exist in similar communities, such as assignment alerts from school teachers to librarians, homework help being made available in the library after school hours, and collections geared to recommended school reading lists.

The Howard County model goes a step further than most school-library partnerships because it includes regular meetings of key staff from each institution to monitor progress and make improvements.  In addition, the Library has rebranded its services by using educational language.

They offer “preschool” and “K-5 classes” rather than using the “storytime” label. They provide “research assistance and instruction” rather than “reference question” answers.  The library offers “self-directed education” instead of “lifelong learning” and “instructive and enlightening experiences” that might previously have been described as “programs” and “exhibits” and the like.

It is a proactive approach that places a higher profile on the library’s product by using higher valued educational language.  Just as in most other parts of the country, Ohio’s public libraries are pillars in our state’s educational system.  Our librarians are educators providing equal access to quality education, regardless of age, background or means.

As our local Shaker Schools move forward with their strategic planning process under the leadership of a new Superintendent, and as they redefine their administrative organization, now is the perfect time for us to solidify that School-Library relationship through an “A+ Partnership.”  It would be a perfect complement to what we have already been doing community-wide with out-of-school-time activities through our MyCOM grants in cooperation with the Shaker Heights Youth Center and many other groups.

Check out the education being offered by the Shaker Library on our new website by going to the “Events and Classes” tab at www.shakerlibrary.org and see things as varied as Play and Learn, Read to a Dog, Homework Help, GED, English in Action, SAT Boot Camp, Knitting, Genealogical research, “Understanding Devices,” Results-oriented resumes, Poetry in the Woods, Low maintenance gardening, Shaker High’s annual art exhibit (“Art Exposed V” on Friday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m.), and much, much more!

 

 

From the Director 3/2014

March message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:

Something historic is happening this month at Shaker Library. For the first time in a decade, we will unveil a new website! Ten years have passed since the current website was introduced in 2004 and many things have changed.

The first mass adopted smartphone in the United States, the Blackberry, was released in 2003; the popular iPhone was not introduced until 2007 by Apple, and there was no Android based smartphone (82% of the current market) until 2008. Today, more than two billion smartphones are in use worldwide and more than two-thirds of U.S. mobile consumers use a smartphone.

Tablets have become popular since the release of the iPad in 2010 and are now in more than a third of U.S. households. That is why the biggest difference between our old site and new one is its mobile-friendly design. Using responsive WordPress architecture, it will display properly on each type of device used—computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Ten years ago, downloadable audiobooks and ebooks were in their infancy, but now they are an integral part of our offerings along with print material. Our collection is front and center on the new website. You will see cover art of what is new; including ebooks, eaudiobooks, digital magazines, and streaming video; easily find if something is available; and just as easily place a hold on the item you want.

In 2003, Shaker Library migrated from a text-based to a Windows-based online catalog, and our Google-like web catalog interface appeared in 2011. Because of the new website’s integration with the library`s web catalog, customers will have easy access to the catalog from every page of our site. A “My Library” tab gives direct and secure access to an individual’s account information, including what is checked out and what is on hold.

The new website gives improved access to our research tools. The Library subscribes to a number of paid databases with in-depth information on a variety of topics—for homework, research, or personal interest. There is also in-depth access to our Local History Collection. Shaker Library has an extensive collection of Shaker Heights local history. You can look up your home’s information in the Shaker Buildings Database to find out if your blueprints are available on microfilm.

We will provide improved information about our meeting rooms. The new site has detailed information, including photos and setup schematics. Improved access to information about our hours and locations, will be available from every page of our site, along with a detailed page with photos and maps for Main Library and Bertram Woods.

Finally, there will be more information about our services, including some online forms to easily access services such as exam proctoring and free, one-on-one Small Business Consulting by SCORE; improved search functionality so if you cannot find what you are looking for on the site, you can use “Search” to immediately find what you need; and there will be easy-to-find and detailed contact information for all of our departments and services, including email addresses for our Board of Trustees.

We are turning over a new leaf and will have the site up and running by the first of spring! Look for it the week of March 17 and connect with us at the Shaker Library.

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

From the Director – 2/14

February Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:

Director
Rather than review last year’s activities in a standard annual report format, I decided to rank the most important achievements in the form of a Top Ten list. What follows are Shaker Library’s “Admirable Annual Accomplishments” in 2013.

10. Wonderful Website Work

For the first time in a decade, the Library will have a new website, thanks to the diligent efforts of the Website Task Force and Epstein Design Partners. It will be ready soon at www.shakerlibrary.org.

9. Thirteen Terrific Times

Shaker Library had its 13th consecutive year circulating over a million items.

8. Computers Continue Clicking

Public computers were introduced in 1994, and every year since, we have set a new record for use. In 2013, we recorded 187,713 sessions—an increase of 5% over 2012.

7. Digital Device Developments

In addition to training the public in a variety of eReaders and tablets, Shaker Library added more services designed for these devices, including digital magazines through Zinio and movies, music, audiobooks, and TV programs through Hoopla!

6. Positive Peer Position

Shaker Library has a per capita rank of 2nd in the county, 4th in the state, and 6th in the country for circulation and visits among libraries its size and larger.

5. Superior & Silent (Sh-h-h!) Spaces

A total reorganization of the Main Library first floor resulted in more accessible media and nonfiction collections, as well as added group study space and a new quiet study area.

4. Dealing with Declining Dollars

In response to the challenge of a million dollars less a year than in 2009, the Board of Trustees made difficult decisions, including retirement incentives, elimination of positions, and reduced hours.

3. Facing Facility Faults

HBM Architects was selected last year to conduct a Facilities Study with a 10-year maintenance plan for the 88-year-old Main Library building, leased from the City, and the 54-year-old Bertram Woods Branch, owned by the Library. It will be presented at the April 7 Board meeting and is expected to be followed soon by a Feasibility Study for possible renovation or other work.

2. Successful Self-Service

April 2014 will mark the first anniversary of the system-wide self-checkout service at the Library, which has been highly successful with almost 80% of items being checked out by the public. Self-pickup of holds has also been an offering to customers over the same period.

1. Prize-winning People & Projects

Shaker Library’s longtime “English in Action” instructor, Brondy Shanker, was named a “Most Treasured Volunteer” in the county by Community Solutions. Public Relations Coordinator Margaret Simon was selected as the Ohio Library Council’s Supportive Staff Member of the Year for 2013. And Local History Librarian Meghan Hays, in conjunction with the City of Shaker Heights, was honored twice for digitizing Shaker building cards and creating an historic sites mobile app. Check it out at historicshaker.com. Luren E. Dickinson, Director dickinson%40shakerlibrary.org

From the Director 1/2014

January message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:

Welcome to the newly elected Library Board officers! Incoming President will be Chad Anderson, who has served as Vice President for the past last three years and has played a vital role in leading our Balanced Scorecard strategic planning effort in 2011. Carmella Williams will become Vice President, and our newest Trustee, Peter Anagnostos, will serve as Secretary.

We extend our sincere appreciation to Jeanne Shatten for her three years of strong leadership as Library Board President and for steering us through a re-visioning of services and dealing with the funding issues we continue to face. Likewise, we thank Dr. David Hutt as he nears the completion of his seven-year term on the Board this March.

As we turn the calendar from one year to the next, the Board intends to continue the momentum gained during the past twelve months with the reorganization of the Main Library’s first floor and the introduction of self checkout. With that in mind, a Board retreat is scheduled for February 8 to begin to focus on the important issues ahead of us.

Our strategic focus in 2014 will be to: 1) Address the impact of the Affordable Care Act on sustainable health insurance coverage for library staff; 2) Develop innovative approaches to the continued positioning of Shaker Library as a community destination place; and 3) Create an action plan for our operations based upon a study of our facility needs and financial situation, as well as partnership opportunities with the City and Schools.

The rollout of “Obamacare” has been, perhaps, the biggest news story of recent months. The federal website has crashed and burned more than once and millions have lost the insurance that they had, but we are promised that things will get fixed and be better in the future. Despite the various delays and extensions, we know that Shaker Library will be treated as a “large” employer according to the new law and that we will have to meet new government requirements, just like every other business.

There is no doubt that the way people use the Library is changing. It is a national trend with newspapers moving from print to online; with television viewership trending to Internet viewership, and with music, movies, and books shifting into digital and streaming formats. While the public may be checking out as many print items as 20 years ago, we expect that circulation will likely decline as new electronic formats continue to be introduced. Because our focus will always be on information, reading, and books, we will continue to adapt and to help our customers adapt to accessing information in new ways. In the meantime, people continue to use libraries in new and different ways as meeting spaces, networking places, and locations for innovation. We will study what brings people to public libraries today and capitalize on it.

In the end, it all comes down to stable funding with Shaker Library now operating on $1 million less in annual funding since 2009. Our biggest issues are our aging facilities, the Main Library, which we lease from the City, and the Bertram Woods Branch Library, which we own. A key goal will be to develop a 10-year maintenance cost plan in conjunction with a feasibility study for the future use of our buildings, including the possibilities of renovation, expansion, and/or new construction, along with a development plan to finance the needed work.

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson%40shakerlibrary.org

From the Director – 12/13

Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight                               

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

—Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Perhaps the most common response Shaker Library employees receive from community members, when we meet them for the first time and they discover we work at the library, is “I love the library!” Whatever the variation, no one connected with the library tires of hearing it.

Recently, Shaker Library learned it was rated the “Best Library” on the Eastside of Cleveland (by clevelandeastmacaronikid.com)—right in there with the best bowling alley, the best candy store, and the best pizza!  As they say in the commercial, it doesn’t get any better than that.

But this was a subjective rating based upon the number of votes collected in one particular survey.  Those submitting entries could only choose from what is available on Cleveland’s Eastside.  What about the rest of the county, the state and the country?

This time of year it is common to see such lists, even ones ranking libraries.  Some are better than others, but they all have their flaws (as was noted here at length just last December). Digging deeper into the available statistics collected from public libraries across the country by the federal government, it is possible to come up with some more objective measures.

In examining the figures from 2011 (the latest complete set), we came up with some numbers that show how well “loved” Shaker Library really is.  Using the data from more than 7,500 public libraries in the United States, and comparing Shaker Library’s per capita statistics to all communities our size and larger, the results were gratifying.

Looking at four measurements: Circulation (or items checked out by the public), Visits, Program Attendance, and Computer Use, Shaker Library had arguably the best results in the County, among libraries with budgets of more than $1 million and with service areas our size and larger, outscoring Cuyahoga County Public Library and Euclid Public Library in each category.  Shaker also outranked Cleveland in all but one category and was an equal match with Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, and Westlake.

The comparison in the state of Ohio is just as dramatic.  Only three libraries had a higher per capita circulation or a higher visitation rate than Shaker Library.  And just five libraries had higher program attendance and use of computers per capita!  The following chart shows the rankings in each category within the county, state, and nation.

Shaker Library’sPer Capita Rank Circulation Visits ProgramAttendance ComputerUse CompositeScore
 in the County

 

2nd

 

2nd

 

3rd

 

4th

 

3rd

 in the State

 

4th

 

4th

 

6th

 

6th

 

7th

 in the Nation

 

6th

 

6th

 

37th

 

20th

 

15th

 

To our community, our regular customers, Friends of the Shaker Library, and those who contribute to our endowment and other funds, thank you for “loving” the library and making us one of the best in America!

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
Dickinson@shakerlibrary.org

From the Director – 11/13

Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:

For the first time in recent memory, Shaker Library will change its hours of service to the public. Due to the triennial revaluation of properties in Cuyahoga County, increasing costs, and flat state funding, the Library Board was forced to make cutbacks at its October 2013 meeting so that most services could be retained without deficit spending. <p>

Effective December 29, Bertram Woods Branch Library will reduce its hours from 65.5 to 50 hours a week. While it will be open every day, it will be closed Monday and Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings. Hours will be 1 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Main Library will reduce its Friday hours by a half hour, closing at 5:30 p.m. to be consistent throughout the week at both locations. Main Library will remain open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays October through April.

Main Library will continue its 69.5 hours per week service when open on Sundays from October through April.  The only change in Main’s schedule will be Friday closings at 5:30 p.m. to keep late afternoon closings consistent throughout the week at both locations.

In the meantime, we will continue to provide the excellent customer service that our community has come to expect over the years from our prize- winning employees and partners.

Public Relations Coordinator Margaret Simon, who has served Shaker Library for more than 25 years, was honored at the state library convention last month with the Ohio Library Council’s 2012-13 Supportive Staff Member of the Year Award.  Local History Librarian Meghan Hays, in conjunction with the Shaker Heights Landmark Commission, has received two statewide awards for the work done on HistoricShaker.com. Longtime Shaker Library partner, Brondy Shanker, will receive the “Most Treasured Volunteer” award from the Center for Community Solutions in a ceremony at the City Club on November 8 for her decades of “English in Action” service teaching a “new” language to hundreds of men, women, and children from around the world.<p>

 

Future offerings from the library will include enhanced digital access to popular magazines through a CLEVNET consortium group subscription that will begin in 2014.  Likewise, Shaker Library will be licensing the “Hoopla” streaming system that will bring feature films, audiobooks, the latest music, and TV shows to our customers.  And, finally, our website is being redesigned for the first time in a decade with the assistance of the Shaker Square firm, Epstein Design.  We hope to have it available in early 2014! <p>

Luren E. Dickinson, Director
dickinson@shakerlibrary.org