In his book, Better Together: Restoring the American Community, Robert Putnam wrote, “People may go to the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there.”
Shaker Library staff work hard every day to help our community find each other and connect at the library. Whether it’s new moms making connections at Play and Learn Station or story times, teens making connections at Teen Study Workshops, or seniors making connections at healthy lifestyle programs, Shaker Library is helping to build those connections every day.
Our Community Engagement librarians are critical in helping us make connections with Northeastern Ohio agencies like Ingenuity Cleveland, Shaker Makers, Facing History, Monarch Center for Autism, and Western Reserve Historical Society, as well as local agencies including the City and city task forces, the Shaker Schools and school task forces. More importantly, they not only make connections, but also leverage them to create interesting partnerships and initiatives that benefit our community.
Our Youth Services department has been working with Bellefaire JCB to enable our vulnerable youth at risk to connect to needed support services. Both Main Library and Bertram Woods Branch are designated as a Safe Place in Shaker Heights. Both library buildings display the yellow and black “Safe Place” sign, which signifies immediate help and safety for youth. Library staff have been trained to look for warning signs and to offer support to youth in crisis by contacting Bellefaire JCB’s 24-hour hotline for homeless and missing youth. Our staff has met with Shaker Schools staff who are eager to help us promote this service to all Shaker families and we have notified the city and the police department.
Board President Brian Gleisser and I connected with our community at the League of Women Voters Community Forum on Wednesday evening December 13, but even before that, we reached out to the city and school representatives to schedule a meeting to talk about our shared visions. I am proud to say that connecting and collaborating is something the library does very well.
As we near the end of 2017, I want to extend my thanks to my seven-member Board of Trustees, who are engaged in our community, and work long hours reviewing policies, budgets, and facilities issues. I am thankful for their expertise and most thankful that they are connected to our community and help share our library story in their neighborhoods. I am also thankful for a dedicated staff who deal with HVAC and building challenges and come to work every day ready to not only connect our community to all of our resources, but also to teach them how to use them. Whether it’s teaching a computer class or teaching the owner of a new device how to download books, our staff is patient and eager to help.
The year 2018 begins with our collaboration with the City Club of Cleveland, Playhouse Square, and nine local public library systems on One Community Reads, a shared reading experience for the greater Cleveland community. The selected book is the Pulitzer prize-winning book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Library staff has prepared a number of opportunities for the community to come together and discuss the book and the issues surround it. I hope you will plan to join us.
Amy L. Switzer
Director, Shaker Heights Public Library