On May 8, residents of the Shaker Heights City School District will be asked to vote on the Library’s 1.9-mill operating levy. As Library Director, I have been doing much thinking about our library, our community, and the many different ways we serve our community—from offering lap-sit story times for babies in the library to delivering library material to the homes of people who cannot come to the library.
People have always been at the core of our library’s mission to “strengthen our community and transform lives by bringing together people, information, and ideas.” Although books and other material remain an important part of the service we provide, building human capital, building relationships, and building networks of information within our community are more crucial than ever.
People need libraries not only because they offer a place of quiet solitude, but also because they offer a place to make connections. Today, even with every imaginable type of immediate communication, people can become quite isolated. Sometimes libraries, books, and people are their best connections to their communities.
I believe that our library’s most powerful asset is the conversation it offers – between books and readers, children and parents, individuals and the community. Take away these conversations, and those voices are silenced. It seems that libraries have very little to do with quiet and very much to do with making connections.
Last February, we asked visitors why they loved their library, and some of the many replies we received included:
- “It is where we met many neighbors and became friends when our kids were young!”
- “Reading about things gives more meaning to life.”
- “Perfect location. Right in the middle of everything. Grocery store, Pharmacy, Shopping and restaurants.”
- “It’s where you meet and greet the best people!”
- “Bertram is walkable from our home. It feels like a small village – warm and welcoming. Staff is part of the neighborhood ‘feeling.’”
- “It’s a place for forming community!”
- “It has soooo much and connects me to the world of ideas!”
Shaker Library has been community-based, and community responsive for the past 81 years and we stand ready to serve our community and to help our residents make connections for another 81 years. Please read about the Shaker Library Levy and remember to vote on May 8.
Amy L. Switzer
Director, Shaker Heights Public Library