Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Board meeting highlights 8-20-12

AUGUST 20, 2012

  • Revenue forecasts
  • New shelving in children’s department
  • New hires
  • Demographic analysis study
  • eMedia services
  • Security measures
  • Heights Knowledge and Innovation Center
  • Library closed Sept. 14
  • Changes in OPERS
  • August Public Service Report highlights

All board members were present.

Revenue forecasts

Molly Riffle, fiscal officer, noted that a four percent drop is forecasted for property revaluation. Because the library budget calculated a five percent drop this will not present a problem for the budget. The Public Library Fund (funding from the state) had dropped in July but is back up this August, and might rise further in 2013. For the budget, mid-year expenditures are on target. Jim Posch, board member, asked about property tax collection rate. It dropped a little last year, but the county predicts it will go up. Currently it is up to 96 percent.

New shelving in children’s department

The board approved the purchase of new picture book shelving for the Lee Road Library’s children’s department at a cost not to exceed $15,000. The actual estimate from Waller-Duman Inc. is $14,273. The new shelving is designed to be more patron-friendly for adults (parents and staff), reducing the need for them to stoop to see what is on the bottom shelf. The old shelving can be put to use by donating some to Little Heights and/or using them in the branch libraries.

New hires

The board approved hires for two full-time positions: Shelley Morris as adult services librarian and Shandra Jackson as circulation supervisor. Both are internal hires. Additionally three part-time positions have been filled: one security guard and two youth service associates.

Demographic analysis study

Mark Salling of Cleveland State University, director of CSU’s data and information services, summarized a study of library usage and the demographics within the Cleveland Heights-University Heights (CH-UH) library district. The study examined population density; patron characteristics including education and income; borrowing patterns; usage of the main Lee Road Library, branch libraries and libraries outside the district; and usage by patrons living outside of CH-UH.

A map of population density shows that the main library and branches are well located to serve highly populated areas. Demographic data, taken from census figures, show that the percentage ratio of adults and children is close to countywide figures, the median CH-UH income is considerably higher than the countywide median, and the CH-UH population is highly educated. However, the district has seen a significant jump in poverty over the past decade, especially for children, from 6.1 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2010, which matches national figures. Private school attendance increased from 2006 to 2010. Population of the district has declined.

The Coventry Library neighborhood is the most highly educated and the Noble Library neighborhood, the least. Children of school age in the Noble area were the most likely to attend public schools. The poverty level is the highest in the Coventry area, which seems to contradict figures for educational level, but some of the board members thought it may be related to a high student population.

Approximately 31,000 patrons checked out material over the past year and a half. In addition, in 2012, slightly more than 2,000 people checked out materials online. A significant number of patrons, more than 40 percent, live outside the district.

Looking at the number of visits per person, the highest numbers were for the main library,  and the lowest were for Noble but, as Jim Posch pointed out, Noble Library was closed for remodeling for several months during the study period. Acknowledging that this was not accounted for, Salling confirmed that new data would be needed. The highest borrowing per visit was from the University Heights branch.

CH-UH residents do borrow from libraries outside the district, mostly from Cleveland Main Library, Shaker Heights Main Library, and Shaker Heights Bertram Woods Library. Whether this data reflects inter-library loan items still needs to be determined.

The study arrived at four main conclusions:

  • The CH-UH population is above the county average in education and income, which is a population highly likely to support good library services.
  • Like most inner-ring suburban areas, the district is experiencing population and economic loss and the libraries must plan accordingly.
  • The library must decide how its services are to be allocated and the data in this study should provide help for that purpose. Issues to examine include the distribution of library materials between the main library and the branches, the most effective outreach activities for each neighborhood library, and the district’s responsibility to non-resident patrons.
  • The dominance of the main library is apparent in the data, but branch libraries are also heavily used and differ somewhat in how they are used.

The board and the director had a number of questions and a discussion about what the study means for library planning. Much has been invested in remodeling Noble Library, but what are the needs for the Coventry and University Heights branches? What do the population trends in University Heights mean, where the eastern half of the city shows a dramatic increase and the western half shows a dramatic decrease? Is John Carroll University a factor? Does the high amount of borrowing from other library systems indicate a need in the CH-UH collection or are CH-UH users simply more particular.

Both the staff and a board committee will independently examine the report in detail and with the strategic plan in mind.

eMedia services

More training will bring staff members up to speed on the new eMedia services. While some staff members are very comfortable with this technology, others are not.

Security measures

Several security issues have been addressed including analyzing camera locations, discussing security issues with staff, recalibrating clocks, rotating security staff throughout the building to build security presence, and cutting hedges to improve visibility, the latter a recommendation from the police.

Heights Knowledge and Innovation Center

Bidding for a general contractor for the Heights Knowledge and Innovation Center is to begin sometime toward the end of September and run for three weeks. The project budget is $801,000. A walk through will take place the first week in September and bids open Sept. 20.

Library closed Sept. 14

Staff training day is Sept. 14; the libraries will be closed all day.

Changes in OPERS

OPERS (Ohio Public Employee Retirement System) is under examination and will affect library employees. Severe cuts are expected especially to health benefits. This could affect what the library board may wish to do for library employees.

August Public Service Report highlights

  • The first “Little Free Library” has been installed in the Noble neighborhood with another planned for Queenston Road by Aug. 31.
  • Coventry Library hosted a music series with Cleveland Institute of Music at P.E.A.C.E. Park.
  • The University Heights Library and the Center for Families and Children put on a Rap Art program.
  • Youth services provided story time during the summer lunch program.
  • Noble Library and Heights Arts put on a “pop up poetry” program, bringing three hours of poetry to the branch library where all shared and wrote poetry.
  • Noble Library hosted 26 Nepalese for a program on financial literacy presented by a representative of Dollar Bank.

LWV observer: Maryann Barnes

These meeting summaries are abstracted from LWV observers’ written reports. The summaries have been edited and prepared by Anne McFarland, Charlene Morse, and Maryann Barnes. To receive e-mail postings of full reports, send an e-mail to or join through Google groups using “lwv-chuh observer reports” as a search phrase.

These reports contain member observation and selected highlights of public meetings and are not official statements of the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters Cuyahoga Area. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.

League of Women Voters

Observer Corps editor for the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Cuyahoga Area

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 4:35 PM, 09.14.2012