Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
We might entitle this report “A Series of Fortunate Events” because, rather than seeing things go wrong, the Shaker Heights Public Library has seen things go right over the past thirty days.
Perhaps the brightest news is that the Friends of the Shaker Library have agreed to go “25 for 25.” That is, they are going to give the Shaker Library $25,000 in support of a variety of library programs and purchases to mark their 25th anniversary. Friends of the Shaker Library will continue to underwrite the annual summer reading program with a cash donation of $5,000 for 2006, which represents a 25% increase over last year. The Friends have also approved $11,500 for programs for adults, teens, and children, including $2,500 to be used to start a Homework Help Center. Other approved funds would be used for equipment ($3,900), movie licensing rights ($1,200), art ($1,000), and a variety of other special grants ($2,400).
Despite financial pressures, due to a continued freeze in state funding for the next three years, we have been fortunate not to experience the devastating cuts seen in other states. Nor have we had weather disasters like those around the world, with the tsunami last December, and in our own country, with recent hurricanes that have centered on Louisiana. In an effort to help libraries affected by the tsunami victims, Shaker Library donated overdue fines collected from February 13-19 to a Sri Lankan disaster relief fund for libraries. Likewise, for the period September 18-24, all overdue fines will be donated to the Louisiana Library Relief Fund.
Although we have been spared such weather extremes here in northeast Ohio, our Main Library building has had roofing problems for a number of years. That situation will be resolved shortly when we begin a major roofing restoration. At the bid opening, all parties involved were pleasantly surprised to learn that we will be able to replace all of the 90-plus-year-old slate with brand new slate — and for less than it would have cost for rubberized, imitation slate! An added bonus is that real slate has a life expectancy of 100 to 120 years, which means the new roof may well last into the 22nd century. We hope to see the new roofing project begin in early October and anticipate its completion before the first snowflakes fall.
Looking forward, we had a good Staff Professional Day on September 16 with several good presentations. I told the staff of nearly one hundred in attendance that one of the library’s biggest strengths, as identified during my interviews with individual staff, is the quality and compatibility of its employees. One of our staff, John Harchar, was honored for his 20 years of service. Through a presentation on “Generations in the Workplace” led by Marcy Levy Shankman, Ph.D., we learned how generational differences can work for us. Children’s Services and Adult Services presented overviews of their departments and engaged us with storytelling and book discussion demonstrations. We discovered how to improve our well being with healthful Chi Gong exercises, and learned a bit about ergonomics. The day ended with different focus groups, which pinpointed areas where the library might change, grow, or develop as part of our long range planning effort.
We will soon have the opportunity to work with other libraries in the region to streamline and improve operations and services. Regional library systems across Ohio have had funding troubles for many years and the State Library is mandating that seven systems be reduced to four. This means that the two healthiest systems, CAMLS and NOLA, which happen to be in our part of the state, must combine in some way. Though these two cover 40% of Ohio’s population and six of the biggest libraries, they would be in line for only 25% of the base funding offered to each new regional quadrant. Shaker Library will host an important special meeting of the CAMLS Advisory Council on October 26 where regional members will be able to provide input on programs and services for the new NE regional.
Luren E. Dickinson, Director