From the Director

From the Director: April 2017

This April we celebrate a library milestone—the 80th anniversary of the first Library Board meeting. For 80 years we have been led by an extraordinary group of talented and generous  Shaker Heights residents who represent you, and work to ensure that your independent Shaker Library meets the unique needs of our community.

At our March meeting, we bid farewell to our board member, Chad Anderson, who served us well for nine years. Under his leadership, we completed a second-floor renovation at Main Library, received several significant grants, studied facilities’ needs and proposed ways to meet those needs along with recommending several options. In addition to these accomplishments, Chad represented the Library at community meetings and forums to tell the library’s story and to advocate for us. We are extremely grateful for his dedicated service to the library and the community.

We will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of Shaker Library on Saturday, April 22 and we invite you to join us at Main Library from 2-4 PM for cake and punch. Make us a birthday card, share your memories, and plan to join us in celebration of your independent Shaker Library!

One of the library’s most important roles in the community is to help build knowledge and to support learning for all ages. As Shaker’s community library you will find us in the library building recommending 1,000 great books to share with your child before kindergarten, helping your teen with her homework, and providing you with accurate information. You will also find us in the community at meetings and events providing the knowledge you need where you need it. Our librarians are engaged in the community attending school and community events and attending meetings. Even our littlest community members are not too young for a visit from our Early Literacy Specialist, Wendy Simon who brings books, stories, and her special brand of magic to every licensed preschool and day care in our community.

Friends of the Shaker Library will hold its Spring Book Sale, April 19-23. Be sure to browse and buy from among the many offerings. This year, Friends will give two free books to teachers who present their school IDs. At the end of the Book Sale, Friends welcomes nonprofit groups to take books for their organizations.

The Library is proud to partner with The Dealership, the City, and Cleveland Ingenuity for the first ever Shaker Makers event on Saturday, April 22, from 10 am-5 pm at The Dealership, 3558 Lee Rd. It’s a show-and-tell-and-touch-and-taste for innovators and creators to discover and explore—all in one place. There’s something for all ages and abilities – and it’s free! I hope to see you there.

The Library continues to serve the community by offering not only resources but also a variety of programs designed to appeal to our community. Poetry presentations, book discussions, along with business and health and wellness programs are just a few of the offerings in the month of April. Be sure to view our April calendar to see what interests you.

And finally, since April is National Poetry Month I’d like to share a favorite poem by Rita Dove:

The First Book

Open it.
Go ahead, it won’t bite.
Well…maybe a little.
More a nip, like. A tingle.
It’s pleasurable, really.
You see, it keeps on opening.
You may fall in.
Sure, it’s hard to get started;
remember learning to use
knife and fork? Dig in:
you’ll never reach bottom.
It’s not like it’s the end of the world –
just the world as you think
you know it.

– Rita Dove

Amy Switzer, Director

From the Director: February 2017

The past few months have been filled with meetings and opportunities to get to know our community’s leaders. These meetings have helped me to learn more about our community’s organizations and to further appreciate their important work. Fostering good relationships is critical to community success, and working together collectively, we can accomplish a great deal for our community.

During my meetings with stakeholders from outside of the Library, I’ve been asked for my thoughts about Shaker Library. I always begin with our mission statement, which is “to build community and to enrich lives by bringing together people, information, and ideas.” Our focus as an independent, community-based Library is to support our schools, our city, and our local community organizations by providing resources that will help them meet with success. In addition to supporting the schools, offering rich programs for the community, and providing community engagement and outreach, we also serve to collect and preserve our own unique cultural heritage.

I am still learning, but I am resolute in my belief that Shaker Library is―and should be―an active, engaged participant in the community. In addition to providing a rich collection of resources, we must look outside ourselves to make a difference in our community.

Shaker Library must continuously renew its facilities, programming, and funding, and we must become more proficient in how we tell our stories of success. To best serve the community, the Library will sometimes be the partner; the Library will sometimes be the leader, but certainly the Library will always be engaged with its Shaker Heights community.

Amy Switzer, Director

From the Director: January 2017

On December 14, the Library Board accepted the amended facility options study and recommendation to renovate upgrade both facilities as its final document. Appendix M, “Community Feedback on Shaker Library’s Facility Options Study” and a summary of community comments in the executive summary of the document were added to the original draft document. The facility study information can be found online. The Board agreed that the facility study showed a thorough, thoughtful analysis of the library’s options. Additionally, the Board felt that we owe it to the community to fully explore OPTION 3: UPGRADE, and to give the community the opportunity to voice its support.

 The Board takes its responsibility to act as Shaker residents’ fiduciary seriously. I appreciate the thoughtful and careful approach board members took to the facility study and to listening to community feedback about their recommendation. The next step is to determine the final budget and to propose funding means and tax level for community review. Preliminary financial projections were prepared as part of the study and the next thing we need to do is to develop the final budget for the project. The earliest we would be on the ballot is November 2017. That is not only because of the work we need to do, but also because we have great respect for the schools’ process and want voters to have the opportunity to address each issue separately.

When we began studying the best way to address our facility needs we believed that one new facility to replace two aging facilities was a good choice for Shaker Heights, and we hired Triad Research Group to conduct a representative poll of registered voters in our school district. Although we didn’t know millage associated with options when we conducted the poll, we did know it was more expensive to keep both buildings than to have just one new facility designed as a library. Even if it meant saving one million dollars.

  • 29% supported building a new Main Library and closing Bertram Woods Branch
  • 74% thought Main Library should be preserved as an historic building
  • 72% supported updating and renovating both buildings
  • 64% said keeping Bertram Woods Branch open was more important than building a new Main Library

In response to the suggestion that we seek inclusion with Cuyahoga County Public Library, the board noted that seeking inclusion eliminates the opportunity to explore other options and that it’s important to give voters a voice before irrevocably giving away an asset Shaker residents have spent the last 80 years building and supporting.

The Board agreed that partnerships and close collaboration among the Library, the Schools, and the City is important. The need for partnerships and a shared vision for Shaker Heights were common themes in community discussions, including our recent meetings with City Council and the School Board, as well as the League of Women Voters Forum.

Amy Switzer, Director

From the Director: December 2016

The year 2016 has been a year of transition for the Library. Our leadership changed with my appointment as Director and the Library Board changed with the reappointment of Michael Bertsch and the appointment of Tom Cicarella as trustees. Under the leadership of Library Board President Chad Anderson, the Board spent most of the year studying library facilities’ options and determined that the best option for the community would be to update both facilities to make them more modern and flexible. The process has been a public one and the Board held three Facility Options Feedback sessions to engage community members in a conversation about the Draft Facility Study and the Board’s decision. At its December 14 meeting, Library Trustees will vote on accepting the “draft” as a plan and will move forward to implement it.

If you missed the Facility Feedback sessions, the Library will share its facility recommendation at the League of Women Voters’ forum on Building Shaker’s Future along with presentations from the City and the Shaker Schools on Thursday evening, December 8 at the Community Building. Please join in the discussion.

Two new services we have recently implemented are our Coffee & Conversation from 10:30-11:30 AM the first and third Thursdays of the month. We invited community members to enjoy a cup of coffee and linger awhile with neighbors and discuss a topic of their choice. The Dealership on Lee Road debuted on December 1 and we were proud to unveil our Shaker Library/The Dealership Collection for use within The Dealership.

Shaker Library attracted a variety of users in 2016, and we continue to work to be an attractive, relevant, and up-to-date library in our services and collection. While our activities and services are based on the notion of the library as a social and cultural center, we also strive to be a relevant digital information and learning center. In an age of being able to google anything, anytime, anywhere on smart phones, the library plays a critical role in providing technology for those who don’t have access. Our public library offers a true public service for all. If you want to calculate the actual value of the library, I encourage you to test our Library Value Calculator to see how your Shaker Library not only enriches your life, but also saves you money. Try it out!

We strive to create a pleasant learning environment—one that invites you to come and spend time in the Library, and to create a place to interact socially as well as educationally. Thank you to all our library customers for their continued support in 2016. We look forward to serving you in 2017 and for many more years into the future. We extend a Happy New Year to all and remind you that we are here for your many happy returns!

Amy Switzer, Director

From the Director: November 2016

November has been a busy month at the Library as we settle into new routines and new leadership. Maureen Brodar was hired as Deputy Director for the Library and has transitioned from Interim Main Library Manager into her new role. The School Board appointed Thomas Cicarella to fill the unexpired term of Peter Anagnostos, and he will be sworn in at the November 14 board meeting.

Our Facility Options Feedback sessions are scheduled for 11 am Saturday, November 12 at Woods Branch, 2 pm Sunday, November 13 and 7 pm Thursday, November 17 at Main Library. We will offer a brief presentation followed by a Q&A Session moderated by Library Board President Chad Anderson. Our intention is to hear what our residents have to say. Please join us and share your thoughts about the future of the library.

I want to share information with you about the present status of funding for Ohio’s public libraries. At the state level, we are fortunate to be funded through the Public Library Fund (PLF) which receives a percentage of the state’s tax revenues from the state’s General Revenue Fund (GRF). Revenue sources for the GRF include the state personal income tax, sales and use tax, business taxes, etc.

The Public Library Fund is currently set at 1.7% of Ohio’s General Revenue Fund, but will be automatically reduced to 1.66% on July 1, 2017, cutting state funding for all Ohio public libraries.

The Ohio Library Council (OLC) is working with Ohio’s public libraries to educate members of the Ohio General Assembly and those that will be elected in November on the status of our state funding. We know that Ohioans value their public libraries and that public libraries create opportunities and transform lives. We will be working with the OLC during the next several months to protect state funding for Ohio’s public libraries. I will keep you posted with updates as we work through this process.

Friends of the Shaker Library continues to support our programs and services and to help fill in the financial gaps. Their Fall Book Sale kept the library buzzing and their profits hold steady, proving that people still do read books in print. We were fortunate to have Discover Books pick up the remaining books and the Friends now has a good working relationship with them.

We received news from Sisters in Crime, an organization that promotes mystery and crime writers that we were the October Lottery winner in their We Love Libraries promotion, and will receive $1,000. Thanks to the efforts of librarian Pam Tidwell who suggested we enter.

Our Youth Services Department was red, white, and blue with a fantasy-filled mock election for November 8, 2016. Children were invited to vote for The Unicorn or The Dragon and to weigh in on referendums on homework, longer lunch periods, and whether or not the Tooth Fairy should leave candy instead of money.

They even had an authentic polling station on loan from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

The current art exhibit, From Intaglio to Collage: A World Journey, features the work of local artists, Jane Petschek and Boni Suzanne Gelfand. Be sure to see the artwork, which will be on display through December 16.

Our annual Veterans Day commemoration, Letters from the Front, is held the evening of November 11 and features the reading of letters from soldiers throughout our country’s many wars. Veterans for Peace Chapter 39 makes this event special and solemn with cello music to begin the program and the sounding at Taps at the end.

Amy Switzer, Director

From the Director October 2016

amyswitzerforbooklettersAs the newly appointed Director of Shaker Library, I would like to say that it is an honor to serve a community with a national reputation for excellence.  I am excited to assume my duties as Library Director and I look forward to engaging in conversations across the community about the future of library spaces, services, and resources. Shaker Library has a long tradition of excellence and I look forward to working with the Board, the staff, and the community to continue to deliver high quality library services and programs. I appreciate the Board’s vote of confidence as we work together to strengthen and grow our library.

The Library Board and staff have been busy studying the options for our library facilities and we plan to outline them at the Board Meeting at 6:30 PM October 10 at Main Library. Board Meetings are open to the public and we welcome participation from the community. Our Board welcomes community feedback. Contact Library Trustees.

The Library has been in the news lately, and I would just like to clarify that Shaker Library is a separate political entity from the city and the schools. While we all work together to make Shaker a great place to call home, the city answers to its elected officials on city council; the schools answer to its school board, and Shaker Library answers to its Library Board of Trustees. The Library Board has complete authority and responsibility to make policy decisions regarding library programs and services, property, staff and budget.

Our September “A Card for Every Kid” amnesty program was a success and we are pleased to report that  340 children and teens now have library cards they can use. Thanks to our Children’s staff and Circulation staff for their work on this very worthwhile project.

Shaker Library staff members are busy in the community leading book discussions at Academy Tavern and Library Court Apartments; creating story walks and art projects on October weekends for the Shaker Heights Arts Council’s Pop-Ups at The Dealership; engaging in Moreland Rising Neighbor Nights; holding story times in area preschools, leading art talks at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and hosting information tables and activities at the Nature Center and for the City’s Health Fair Expo.

Upcoming October events at the Library include a lovely display of book and paper art in celebration of Octavofest. Jennifer Souers Chevraux from ICA- Art Conservation will teach children and adults how to preserve special pictures and mementos at an intergenerational program Sunday afternoon, October 16 at Main Library.

October 13 at Main Library, we will host award-winning journalist Joanna Connors, author of I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her, which Kirkus Review has described as, “A courageous and unsettlingly forthright memoir of overcoming trauma.”

Books are our business and we continue to offer a healthy assortment of book discussions. We have added a Cook the Book cookbook discussion and an award-winners book discussion at Woods Branch, which we hope you will enjoy.

Again, I am pleased to serve as Shaker Library’s eighth director.

Amy Switzer, Director

From the Director September 2016

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. Shaker Library is proud to join with other libraries in Cuyahoga County on A Card for Every Kid campaign, which aims to put a library card into the hands of every child under 18 in Cuyahoga County. Celebrate with us two ways:

1.) Get your child a library card. It’s easy: just visit the library and sign up.

2.) If your child already has a card but it’s blocked by fines, bring your child to the library to have fines forgiven. (This is a one-time benefit.)

Plus, parents and guardians can get $5 off their fines by taking our brief survey.

Now that you have your card, we encourage you to use it to read what you like, when you like, and in whatever format you choose. Shaker Library has something for everyone, including a large selection of emedia. A recent Pew Research Center survey, “Book Reading 2016,” found that 73% of Americans have read a book in the last 12 months. Print books remain more popular than ebooks: 65% have read a print book in the past 12 months, while only 28% read an ebook. Just 6% read only ebooks. Younger people are even more likely than their elders to have read a print book in the past year. As we plan for the library’s future, it’s clear that print books and ebooks will co-exist for some time to come.

Part of planning for the future is to ensure that we offer spaces to fulfill our mission to build community and to enrich lives by bringing together people, information, and ideas. To that end, the Library Board of Trustees has been studying several facility options to address community needs as well as the projected $5 million in maintenance costs over ten years. A thorough study of the options listed below should be completed by September 2016.

  • Keep both buildings as they are, which entails making the required repairs noted in the 2014 facility assessment but not undertaking service or facility improvements.
  • Replace two aging facilities with one new, up-to-date facility.
  • Keep and update both facilities to be more modern and flexible.
  • Keep both buildings but significantly reduce service at Main in an effort to reduce costs.
  • Never go on the ballot again.
  • Join the Cuyahoga County Public Library system.

Recently, the Mayor’s volunteer task force issued an opinion recommending that Shaker Library join Cuyahoga County Public Library; however, the report leaves many important questions unanswered. Shaker Library customers should expect nothing to change with their library and its services as a result of this report. The Shaker Library Board has not taken a position for or against inclusion. Until our analysis of our policy options is completed and our Board has acted on it, we consider inclusion to be an open question. Library Board President Chad Anderson’s response to the task force is posted on our website.

As we move forward and evaluate the library’s options for the future, please know that we value our independent library―a legacy left to us by previous generations who envisioned it and grew it to what it is today.

Amy Switzer
Interim Director


From the Director: August 2016

Our big news for August is that we have hired a new Business Manager/Fiscal Officer. Susan K. Beaver joined the Library staff in July. She is a graduate of the University of Akron with a B.S. degree in accounting. Susan has more than 18 years’ experience in governmental accounting where she has worked with receivables, payables, budgets, grants, state reporting, procurements, and audits. Additionally, she has managed multiple software conversions and upgrades including a new payables system. We are glad to welcome her to our staff.

As our Summer Reading programs come to an end August 6, we give thanks to our Friends of the Shaker Library for its continued support. We also extend our thanks to OverDrive, which challenged our adult summer readers with the generous incentive of a donation of $1 for every book read up to $500. Our community of readers rose to the challenge by reading more than 840 books, and we received a generous check from Overdrive to purchase more books. We are most fortunate to serve a community that supports its library.

Thanks also to Cleveland Public Library and Great Lakes Theater for their August workshops in support of the First Folio in Cleveland. We enjoyed David Hansen’s adaptation of Twelfth Night and learned how to boogie like the Bard at a Shakespearean dance workshop.  The Folio has moved on, but Cleveland can be proud to have been one of the sites for its display.

End-of-summer fun continues when we celebrate a summer of reading with an Xtreme Magic Show Thursday evening, August 4 at Main Library. Our adult readers are invited to The Academy Tavern on Larchmere Boulevard from 7-9 pm Tuesday, August 16, when we raise the bar on reading, and “The Academy” donates a portion of the proceeds to the Library.

With no time to bask in the success of summer reading, we are busy planning school-time activities and programs. We have arranged for a yellow Shaker School bus to visit the libraries on August 9 and August 11 when preschoolers can board the bus to hear back-to-school stories.  Thursday evening, August 18 the Library and the League of Women Voters will present its third community forum on Regionalism and Shaker Heights: What Are the Options? What’s in it for Shaker? Judy Rawson, former Mayor of Shaker Heights, will moderate a discussion with panelists: Armond Budish, Edward Kraus, Mayor Earl M. Leiken, and Hunter Morrison. It’s your community! Join in the discussion. We have also provided a 4-day session, August 22-25, FREE SAT Boot Camp with College Now Greater Cleveland for our teens.  Not only will they learn the tricks of the test, but they will also take home a test prep book. And it’s all FREE.

As we struggled with the implications of recent violent events, Shaker Library and libraries throughout Cuyahoga County worked together to gather resources that can help lead to a better understanding of civil rights, justice, and race. Talking about race is incredibly complicated and even the experts struggle with it.  Our staff created a booklist, Reading about Race, that includes titles available at our library that address civil rights, justice, and race.

cpuBeyond programming, we have also improved our service to seniors and installed new computers at Bertram Woods Branch. To make it easier for our seniors to apply for a Golden Buckeye card, we verify their applications and fax them to the State, saving them time, trouble, and money. All Ohioans age 60 or older and adults age 18-59 who have disabilities are eligible for a free Golden Buckeye card that offers many discounts. If you know someone who qualifies but doesn’t have a card, please let them know they can apply at the Library.

If you want to become more involved with your home library, consider applying for a two-year term on the Library Board of Trustees.  Applications are available online and must be submitted by August 12, 2016.

Amy Switzer
Interim Director


From the Director: July 2016

Summertime may be the time of year when many folks relax and reassess; however, for libraries summertime is another busy season when we work to support our community in many different ways. The most obvious way, of course, is through our summer reading programs. Our staff has created appealing programs for children, teens, and adults. While we encourage reading throughout the year, in summer, we stress the importance of reading for children and families to prevent the summer slide. We foster reading for fun in all forms and formats and in all kinds of places. Whether at the beach or at camp, Shaker Library is a virtual click away to connect you to your home community and your local reading resource.

This summer we were the first library in Cuyahoga County to pilot the exciting new project of lending HotSpots. You can borrow the device to access the internet free at home, in the car, or anywhere else!  HotSpots provide FREE internet access to smartphones, tablets, and other wireless-enabled devices through the T-Mobile cellular network.

We continue to collect and preserve information important to our community’s history in our Local History Collection, and we continue to share that information with our community and beyond. Recently, Shaker Library contributed items to an exhibit at the New York Public Library Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Governor Kasich has appointed Local History librarian Meghan Hays to the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board, which focuses on the preservation of and access to Ohio’s historical records.

We believe access to our material is important for everyone. To that end, we implemented a Three-for-Me card for children ages 12 and under, which allows them to borrow up to three children’s books from our library without a parent’s signature.  We also offer a number of Reading-Pays-Off-for-Teens programs throughout the summer, so teens ages 12 – 18 can read down their Shaker Library card fines to be eligible to use their cards.

Perhaps you call it reference or maybe research, either way, we call it help, and our librarians are ready to make sure that every person finds the information he or she seeks. Whether it’s an individual or a group, our librarians are here to help – summer fall, winter, and spring!

This summer, our Board of Trustees is also busy seeking a qualified applicant to fill the two-year unexpired term of Peter Anagnostos, who will resign August 1 due to a move outside our library district. Applications are available online and should be submitted by August 12, 2016.

Shaker Library is a busy, vibrant place that should be included in your summer plans.

Amy Switzer
Interim Director


From the Director: June 2016

In May we bid farewell to our longtime director Luren Dickinson. We wish him the best of luck in his new position in California.

June means school is out and it’s time for summer reading. This summer, our theme is Shaker Reads and our staff has planned exciting programs for children, teens, and adults. In addition to our regular summer offerings, we will offer Snacks and Stories every afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at Main Library.

Also new this year is our Adult Reading Challenge. OverDrive has generously pledged $1 (up to $500) for every book read and rated and we invite you to rise to our challenge and read this summer. Want to learn what’s hot this summer? Join us in the Woods Reading Garden Wednesday evening June 8 when our librarians will offer the scoop on new, not-to-be-missed books.

Summer reading prizes and incentives make reading fun for all. Thanks to the sustained support of our Friends of the Shaker Library which has underwritten our summer reading programs for the past 36 years. Want to learn more about the Friends? Attend their Annual Meeting at 7 pm Monday, June 27 at Main Library when they recap their year, elect officers, and welcome author Gail Ghetia Bellamy, who will speak about Cleveland Food Memories.

Our collaboration with the League of Women Voters continues with an informative discussion on internet bandwidth at 7 pm Thursday, June 9 at Main Library. PubReads at the Larchmere Tavern and staff visits to the First Baptist Church Farmer’s Market find our staff busy in the community as well as in the library.

We have reinstated Play and Learn Babies – a special room on the Main Library second floor just for parents and babies from birth to 12 months –  every Thursday morning.

Finally, we look forward to The Folger Shakespeare Library First Folio tour at Cleveland Public Library from June 20 to July 20.

This summer, Shaker Reads. Please join us.

Amy Switzer
Interim Director