Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
The City of Shaker Heights and the Shaker Schools are celebrating their centennials in 2012. This year is also the 75th anniversary of the formation of the first Board of Trustees for the Shaker Library. The original members met for the first time April 27, 1937. With that in mind, we are planning to kick off our Diamond Anniversary celebrations with an after hours fund-raiser Friday, April 20, sponsored by Friends of the Shaker Library.
With all of the historical events being planned, now is a good time to reflect on our roots as a public library. We worked very closely with the school system in those early years. In fact, there were “branch collections” in some of the school buildings as early as 1922, and direct funding was received from the schools in return for services until the early 1960s. Shaker Library is still a “school district library” under Ohio law, which means its service area is the same as the school district’s, but has completely separate operations other than having its Board members appointed by the Board of Education.
It took a year to hire staff; order materials and process them; find a suitable location, and furnish it before the first Lee Road storefront library opened on June 24, 1938 under the direction of Ellen Ewing.
Ms. Ewing ran the library well for more than a decade but was tragically killed by a fire on a Great Lakes cruise ship in 1949. Virginia Robinson then became Director and served longer than any so far, ably guiding the Library through some of its greatest growth. The original Main Library, now the City’s Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Building, was opened in 1951, and Bertram Woods Branch was dedicated in 1960. Margaret Campbell, who followed, instituted the first Sunday hours in January 1975, before being succeeded by Barbara Luton later that year.
Mrs. Luton served for nearly 20 years, and during her tenure, Shaker Library joined the CLEVNET system and grew in size and activity. Before retiring, she oversaw the renovation of Moreland School into the new Main Library, and upon her retirement, Friends of the Shaker Library began the Barbara Luton Art Fund in her honor. Every year, the Library sponsors a Barbara Luton Art Competition with applications available in January and art entries accepted in March.
Before leaving to become U.S. Superintendent of Documents, Francis Buckley led some significant efforts during his three and a half year tenure, including the push to circulate one million items annually (which first occurred in 1996), the passage of the first joint bond issue with the Shaker Schools (also in 1996), and the first 4-mill operating levy in 1997. Edrice Ivory, who succeeded Mr. Buckley, added the first continuing operating levy in 2001 and an additional joint bond issue with the schools in 2004. What has happened under your current director is too recent to mention!
The important thing is to see how far we have come in 75 years. In the 1930s, the Library was all about books and printed materials. Now, non-print material accounts for just over 50% of checkouts and many people visit to use our public computers. The future looks electronic, too, with all kinds of digital devices and e-readers beginning to become commonplace. If you would like to help support our efforts as a Board Member of Friends of the Shaker Library, stop by our Friends Breakfast at 7:45 a.m. Thursday, January 19 at the Main Library. To learn more about our innovative programs, plan to attend the Open House for our new Community Entrepreneurial Office (CEO) and our partnering group, the Career Transition Center (CTC) from 5 to 7 p.m Wednesday, January 25 at the Main Library.