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