Message to the Community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Library Board President Ken McGovern began our September Staff Day by quoting Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who said, “the only constant is change.” We are certainly living in a transition period where we are experiencing changes in the economy, changes in technology, as well as changes in our national leadership. During Staff Day, we focused on changes we have implemented at Shaker Library as well as changes we hope to implement in the future.
We held our Staff Day at the recently refurbished Cleveland Heights-University Heights Main Library where their staff has integrated many new service models into their operations. Heights Library was quite generous, and provided us not only with meeting space, but also with staff who led tours and answered questions along the way. One of the key service models in use at Heights Library is self-service checkout. Stations are conveniently arranged to allow members of the public to check out their own library material with library staff stationed nearby to provide help if needed. They also have open holds shelves where customers can pick up their reserved items without having to wait for staff.
The personal touch is not lost, however, as every staff member, including the Director, spends approximately 30 minutes a week at greeting stations, to welcome library patrons and to help them with directional and reference questions. Their telephone system is set up to provide direct connections with staff on the floor for follow up on specific questions. There are even phones in more remote areas that can be used by the public to get help.
Professional staff provides reference service on a more proactive basis than in the past. Gone is the large, centralized desk where people had to go to ask questions. The new service model places librarians at streamlined computer stations where they can offer assistance when requested or even before help is sought. Staff members rotate on and off the floor to handle other duties, such as library material selection, program planning, personnel matters, etc.
As we move into renovating our own Main Library—generously funded by a November 2004 joint School-Library Bond Issue—we hope to implement some of these new practices, perhaps in slightly different ways. We have asked the School Board to ratify our architect selection at their October 7 Board Meeting. Contract negotiations will begin soon thereafter and we hope to begin work in Spring 2009.
We have experienced continued success with our library programs. The September children’s program, Living in Space with Bill Crell from NASA, had a standing room only crowd when children had the opportunity to try on a space suit and learn about life in space. Mary Doria Russell and Scott Lax drew appreciative audiences as part of our “Writers-on-Writing” series at Main Library offered in collaboration with The Lit. Our final program in that series will be held October 5 with Paula McLain, author of A Ticket to Ride.
Our monthly Meet-the-Author” series continues at Woods Branch with author visits from Lynda Durrant, Eric Greitens and Michael Swiger. Check our website for the dates and times so you don’t miss these opportunities. “Poetry Back in the Woods” programs began in September with a documentary film on Emily Dickinson, produced by SHHS grad Jim Wolpaw, and an October program will feature poets, Jillian Rennée Wriston, Roger Craik, and Maj Ragain, who will share their poems. October 23, the Library and the League of Women Voters of Shaker Heights present Janice Patterson speaking on “Is Restructuring Cuyahoga County Government the Answer?” Be sure to learn
what changes are on the horizon at the local level.
Finally, if you want to keep some “change” in your pocket, come to the Friends Book Sale where you will find thousands of books in dozens of well-organized categories at prices as low as 50¢. In the midst all the change around us, it is comforting know that the one constant is the generous support from the Friends.