We love our libraries — and they love us right back. According to a recent national study released by the professional trade publication Library Journal
, the Cleveland and Columbus public-library systems each earned the top rating of five stars.
“We focus on output measures — the ‘what have you done for me lately?’ questions,” says Library Journal
editor Francine Fialkoff. Using 2006 data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services — a federal agency that provides funding to cultural institutions — the Library Journal
rankings examine circulation, patron visits, program attendance and public Internet use. “The study,” says Fialkoff, “identifies the models that other libraries can learn from.”
Patrick Losinski worked at five libraries in four states before becoming executive director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library in 2002. “The service ethic is so strong here — we will do whatever it takes for our customers, he says.”
This commitment has influenced how the library views the services it provides, including the institution’s popular Homework Help centers — currently located in 15 of the city’s 22 branches — that serve more than 6,000 students each month. The library’s Job Help center, launched this year, has aided more than 2,600 employment-seekers.
“It’s obvious,” Losinski says, “that we’ve become much more than a place to borrow a book. We’ve redefined what libraries are all about and we’re busier than we’ve ever been.”
Felton Thomas became the Cleveland Public Library’s director in January. He’s particularly proud of the library’s On the Road to Reading Literacy program that has taught more than 5,500 children in northeast Ohio day care centers literacy skills this year. He also points with pride to the institution’s Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped program that delivers reading materials in a variety of formats to 12,000 patrons.
“Our job is to continue to find out what the community is looking for,” he says. “It’s about commitment and staying away from complacency. I truly believe that [Greater Clevelanders] know what a treasure they have, and they don’t want us to rest. They want us to be at the forefront of innovation for libraries.”
For more information, visit www.libraryjournal.com