Cleveland Heights University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 6-15-2020

JUNE 15, 2020


  • Public comments 
  • Non-salary budget cuts
  • Janitorial contract
  • Installation of safety equipment
  • Reduction in force
  • Automated materials handling system
  • Lobby services at all libraries
  • Antiracist statement from the board
  • Black Lives Matter (BLM) mural


Present were President James Roosa, Patti Carlyle, Gabe Crenshaw, Max Gerboc, Annette Iwamoto and Vikas Turakhia. Vice President Dana Fluellen was absent.

Public comments 

Face coverings: The library director read a letter from a patron disagreeing with, and questioning the library’s decision to require patrons to wear face masks. Per the library’s usual policy in handling comments from the audience, the board will give careful concern and respond at the next meeting.

Non-salary budget cuts

Since revenue from the State of Ohio to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library will decrease in 2020 due to lower tax collection during the pandemic, the board approved an additional decrease of $200,061.34 to the materials budget, for a total reduction of approximately 25 percent.

Janitorial contract

The board authorized the fiscal officer to enter into an agreement, effective August 1, with Ajax Commercial Cleaning. The library director welcomed comments about cleanliness so that feedback can be provided to this new contractor.

Safety equipment installation

The board authorized the fiscal officer to pay an additional $3,900 to Power Alarm for unforeseen problems that occurred during the installation of door controls.

Reduction in force

On June 8, the library opened to the public in a reduced capacity with a reduced staff. Operating hours were cut from 72.5 to 40 per week, with very limited services while practicing strict COVID-19 precautions. With the end of calamity pay on May 29, the Library reduced staff by furloughing many employees either fully or partially. Forty-eight employees were furloughed (six were voluntary), sixty-six employees were retained with hours cut by 50 percent, twenty-six employees were fully retained, three employees accepted a voluntary exit incentive, and four employees accepted a voluntary retirement incentive. One employee is on leave under the Families First Coronavirus Paid Leave Act. Of the employees fully retained, thirteen are managers whose salaries have been cut ten percent. The director’s salary is reduced by fourteen percent. The 66 employees whose hours and wages were cut by 50 percent are participating in the SharedWork Ohio program, a state unemployment program, where employees receive unemployment benefits and continue to work for their employers on a reduced hours basis.

Automated materials handling system

Tech Logic Automated Materials Handling System is coming to Lee Road in July. Customers will be able to return items through a slot in the wall, and they will immediately be discharged and sorted into bins for reshelving.

Lobby services

Heights Libraries have opened for lobby services after two weeks of curbside pickup beginning May 18. During the two weeks of curbside services, there were 636 customers and 3241 items circulated. All book drops are now open for returning books. Customers, as well as staff, must wear masks when entering the library buildings. Phone reference is available for all library questions and for assistance in choosing library materials to place on hold. New services will be announced on the website.

Antiracist statement from board

“Dear community members, 

Heights Libraries grieves with you over the brutal, senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black Americans. We recognize that as a public institution, it is not enough to passively mourn these losses. We must be actively anti-racist and stand up to the anti-Black racism so pervasive in our society. 

We want to take this moment to recommit ourselves to service for all. In 2019, our board rewrote our Vision Statement, and it includes the following: 

‘Ensure that our libraries remain free and accessible. Champion digital and print literacy, intellectual freedom, and privacy. Respond to the needs and wants of our customers by leading with a culture of acceptance, equity, inclusion, and respect for all.’

Do you need information about current events? Do you need resources to help you explain to your children what is happening right now? We can help with those things and more. 

Please join our 1619 Project discussion, currently online due to the pandemic. The 1619 Project is an initiative by The New York Times that re-examines the history, and lasting influence, of American slavery on our society. You can find the link here. [ ] You can also join the 1619 Facebook group [ ] to discuss these and related issues. 

And you can download a reading list for adults, teens, and children of books and authors that address race and racism. Look for it on the 1619 Project page, in the Materials menu. 

Our buildings maybe closed due to the pandemic, but we are still here for you. Please call us at (216) 932-3600, or reach out to us through our website with your questions and concern.”

Black Lives Matters mural

Under new business, board member Gabe Crenshaw suggested that a BLM mural be made and displayed on library property. A few possible places were discussed. The community would be involved. The library director asked for contact information and will look into options.

The next meeting will be held at the Lee Road Branch Library on Monday, July 20, 6:30 p.m. 

LWV Observer: Elizabeth M. Tracy. 

Read More on Library
Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 8:40 AM, 07.13.2020