Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Board meeting highlights 1-27-2014

JANUARY 27, 2014

  • Coventry residents address board
  • Dobama report
  • Library employee statistics
  • Friends of the Heights Libraries report
  • December public service report
  • New website live

All board members were present.

Coventry residents address board

Coventry resident Sarah Wean presented a petition with 175 signatures protesting the board’s decision to close Coventry Village Library on Fridays, transferring the hours to University Heights Library to enable it to open Sunday afternoons. Other residents who spoke against the Friday closure were Colleen Burke, Carla Rautenberg, Michael McGraw, Patrick McGraw and Susan Eagan. The speakers made the following points:

  • The decision was made without prior announcement or opportunity for input from the community.
  • The decision seems to have been made on the basis of numbers only, ignoring the fact that the Coventry Village Library serves the neighborhood with the lowest median income and [one that] has already lost its neighborhood school.
  • Coventry Village Library is the smallest branch and has the worst parking.
  • The library is an integral part of the neighborhood and is the center for services to the deaf.
  • If the board feels that the library is underused, perhaps innovative programming is needed.
  • The library hours are already inconvenient.
  • Is the board working on a zero-sum theory in that if one library gains hours, another loses them?

University Heights resident Marcia Besuner Klausner sympathized with the Coventry supporters but asked the board not to take away the Sunday hours for University Heights, indicating how important they are, especially for the Orthodox community.

Suzanne DeGaetano of Mac’s Backs and Angie Hetrick from the Coventry Village Special Improvement District (SID) offered to help the board in any way they can to restore Coventry’s Friday hours.

Many of the speakers told of their own history with the Coventry Village Library, and a number thanked the board for its unpaid service.

Board President Jim Posch stated that he had no intention of pitting one neighborhood against another, as he felt had happened with school closings. He assured the group that board members would discuss this issue and report back. Library Director Nancy Levin said that she has already set meetings with the Coventry Village SID and the Grant Deming [Forest Hill] Neighborhood [Association].

Dobama report

Nathan Motta, artistic director, presented the current state of the theater.

  • A part-time development director has been hired.
  • A new ticketing system has been installed.
  • Average attendance is 84 per performance.
  • Dobama is focusing on community collaborations, including Interplay Jewish Theatre, Verb Ballets and the Cleveland Food Bank.
  • Katz Club and Stone Oven will be partners.
  • Dobama has 42 percent more “likes” on Facebook and is active on Twitter.

James Roosa, board member, asked whether Motta had any comments on the newest occupant of the building, Heights Knowledge and Information Center (HKIC). Motta responded that HKIC drives more traffic past Dobama, which is welcome. He said that there can be a shortage of parking but that doesn’t always affect performances.

Jim Posch asked whether revenue is up. Motta replied that it was, especially in light of other benefits added to membership. Single-ticket revenue remains the same.

Nancy Levin indicated that the board will need a financial report. She [said she] appreciated the fact that library staff is invited to dress rehearsals. Motta responded that Dobama has a tradition of letting visitors see rehearsals, in part because it’s important for them to see the evolution of a production. In answer to a question about the Marilyn Bianchi Kids’ Playwriting Festival, Motta indicated that 300 plays were submitted in 2013.

Library employee statistics

Laurie Marotta, human resources manager, provided a summary of the human resources activities for 2013. External job postings were 17; internal postings, two. Total applications were 930, of which 119 applicants were interviewed, with 41 hires. Turnover was 23 percent. Posch asked how the turnover figure relates to other libraries. Marotta indicated that a number of terminations were of part-time employees, including some who left for full-time positions. She will present the board with a breakdown of terminations by full-time and part-time employees.

Wages for 2013 were projected at $3,904,000 but came in at $3,732,959.38. Marotta included a table showing all sick time, vacation time and hours worked during 2013.

Friends of the Heights Libraries report

A recent sale of fiction books raised $1,500. There will be a $4-per-bag sale on Friday, Feb. 7, and a fundraiser on Feb. 15 at The Wine Spot, with wine, hors d'oeuvres, music and raffle drawings. The National African American Read-In will be held on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 1:30 p.m. in the Harvey & Frends Book Shop at the Lee Road Library. Students and adults are welcome to share five-minute sections of some of their favorite writings, [including] poems, novels and nonfiction. Light refreshments will be served.

December public service report

Among the highlights are:

  • New library card application forms, which clarify the policy regarding library card theft, have been printed and distributed to branches.
  • Poet laureate Kathleen Cerveny organized a reading of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales as part of the Coventry Village Winter Festival.
  • Coventry Village Library’s Winter Storytime was well-attended, and Meredith Priset, youth services associate, played violin.
  • Constance Dickerson, Noble Neighborhood Library manager, served as a reader for the Maltz Museum’s Stop the Hate essay contest.
  • At Noble Neighborhood Library, Mary Looby started a new preschool series, Little Learners, focusing on STEM literacy and engaging children in simple experiments.
  • Noble Neighborhood Library staff chose to make a holiday donation to the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland.
  • Public Libraries magazine has accepted Sam Lapides’ piece, “Pedal Power: How the Heights Library Book Bike Got Rolling.”
  • Mari Keating of Food Not Lawns, Cleveland has been working with Aurora Martinez, manager, to improve the landscaping at the University Heights library. A dwarf apple tree, donated to the library by a colleague of Keating, was planted in the front yard.

New website live

Sheryl Banks, marketing and community relations manager, reported that total web visits and visitors for 2013 were higher than for both 2012 and 2011, indicating that website use will continue to grow. The new website is now live for customers.

LWV Observer: Anne S. McFarland.

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.

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