A Love Letter to Northeast Ohio’s Libraries

This is an update to an article I originally wrote in September.

I’ve been the communications coordinator for Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) for 3-plus years. In addition to a bunch of stuff that I won’t bore you with, one of my main responsibilities was running the library’s social media accounts. I had a blast doing so. It was fun to engage with customers and promote CCPL’s services and offerings.

My last day at CCPL

Today is my last day on the job. While I’m excited about my next gig, the moment is bittersweet. Working for a public institution as valuable as CCPL is rewarding. Libraries play a critical role—education, employment, entrepreneurship, empowerment and engagement—in the communities they serve.

Libraries are still relevant. Credit: Pew Research

So, ask yourself this: What do you think of when you hear the term libraries? If you’re like me (before I began working here), you probably think of places where you can borrow books, movies and music for free. Or maybe you associate libraries with quiet spaces for reading. You wouldn’t be wrong. Libraries are all those things. But the purpose of today’s blog is to show you how libraries are so much more. Greater Cleveland has a plethora of libraries with tremendous resources, programs and services. Best of all—they’re completely free. Here’s a list of my favorites:

My home office in Parma

Akron-Summit County Public Library
Partnering with the Akron Art Museum, the library has 27 works of art—paintings, prints, photographs and mixed-media created by local artists—available for customers to borrow for 28 days with a valid library card. Provided a piece isn’t on hold, it can be renewed up to five times.

Borrow this picture for free, courtesy of akronlibrary.org.

Avon Lake Public Library
In 2017, Avon Lake Public Library launched its Borrow-A-Bike program. Four 19″ Electra Townie 7D adult bikes, one 3-speed adult tricycle and one tag-along attachable bike (a half bicycle) are available to borrow for adults with a library card. Each bike—equipped with safety components like chrome bells, reflective lights and helmets—includes a lock with its own combination. Bikes are loaned out for a one-day, non-renewable term.

An Electra Townie adult bike courtesy of alpl.org.

Cleveland Public Library
Customers can take advantage of legal and financial services provided by the library. The Legal Aid Society offers advice clinics about civil issues on a first come, first served basis. College Now Greater Cleveland hosts on-site appointments at the Carnegie West Branch to assist adults with student loan debt, starting a degree program, returning to college, finding scholarships and financial aid.

The main branch of Cleveland Public Library sits in the heart of downtown.
Credit: cpl.org

Cuyahoga County Public Library
If you’re looking to save your memories and learn the basics of digital preservation, take note. The Memory Lab is a “do-it-yourself” space where users can learn how to access, share and digitize old videos, audio recordings, photographs, vinyl records, floppy disks and slides. Equipment includes digital converters, scanners, computer stations and a digitizing turntable.  

No need to pay for digital conversion. It’s free at Cuyahoga County Public Library.

I’d be remiss without mentioning CCPL’s Innovation Centers. Equipped with 3D printers, drawing tablets, heat presses, vinyl cutters, sewing machines, Adobe Creative Cloud and so much more, customers have free access to high-tech equipment, advanced software, emerging technologies and production equipment. I’ve seen people make ornaments, clocks, glasses, decorations, clothing and tote bags. In fact, entrepreneurs even use these spaces to boost their small businesses.

Libraries and small businesses … a match made in heaven

Lakewood Public Libraries
Entertainment at the library? Yes, indeed. Every Saturday at 6 p.m., Lakewood Public Library hosts screenings of popular movies. These events take place in the Main Library’s basement auditorium on a digitally projected big screen. In the same space, the library presents special concerts and performances every Sunday afternoon.

Lakewood Public Library offers free movies and concerts.
Photo: lakewoodpubliclibrary.org

Stark County District Library
The Library of Things is an assortment of technology and equipment designed to provide convenience and savings to library customers. Offerings include reflector telescopes, Wi-Fi hotspots, radon detectors, digital projectors, vehicle diagnostic code readers and electricity and air quality monitors. These non-renewable items can be checked out for 14 days. My brother tested his house for radon with a detector he borrowed free from the library. According to HomeAdvisor, an inspection would have cost between $148 and $746.

Radon detectors are free to borrow from Stark County District Library.

Now do you believe me? Libraries really are more than books. I’m amazed at the free services and resources available to residents. Libraries have transformed into community hubs that center on technology, innovation and experiences. I highly encourage you to visit your local branch and get reacquainted … you won’t regret it. See you there. Cheers!

Truer words have never been spoken.

Coming Tuesday: Guest blogger alert! My wife Tiffany will regale you with stories from a group night out in downtown Cleveland … Butcher and the Brewer, Corner Alley and a bar “fight” at Lake Effects Pop-Up Bar. It was wild, that’s for sure. Talk to you soon!

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