Your input is needed: PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD CLOSES JUNE 15 regarding Orange Library plans

The Cuyahoga County Public Library system has decided to not expand the Orange Library, after previously indicating that it would be expanded. This Chagrin Valley Times piece is also helpful background as to the disappointment about the elimination of plans for the Orange branch. The Friends of the Orange Branch Library position is stated below these directions/request for action and a response from the CCPL's Executive Director is below that.

The Orange library is the center of so much activity and in economic hard times, is more vital than ever, even in an area blessed with the resources we have, compared to those in some other communities.  As you'll read below, our branch is in need, and that includes being in need of us to support it.  Please consider taking action.

1. Public comments about the County's downgrading of plans for the Orange branch and overall plans will be accept through June 15, 2010.
Go to the Cuyahoga County Public Library Site
Select "About Us" on the menu
On the pulldown select "Facilities Master Plan"
On the "Facilities Master Plan Page" click on "Public Comment"
Fill out the Public Comment form and send

2. By e-mail contact Sari Feldman, Executive Director CCPL, and please request that she transmit your correspondence to the County Library Board.

Letter from Friend of the Orange Branch Library:

Sari Feldman, Executive Director
Cuyahoga County Public Library

The Friends were very surprised and disappointed to read in the May 31, 2010 Plain Dealer that the Orange Branch would not be expanded but only renovated. Previously all indication was that the Orange Branch would be expanded and the Bostwick master plan supported that position. We were totally unaware that anything else was being considered. In addition to learn that the public comment period started May 26th, before a three-day holiday and before it was in the Plain Dealer on May 31, 2010 seems a bit unfair. (An article appeared in the Chagrin Valley Times on June 3, 2010.) Also the Library web site contains no detail as to the reasoning for the decision not to expand.

We realize that the Library Board must consider all factors and make hard decisions. However for practical purposes the Library Board discussions and actions are largely isolated from the public. Neither meeting agendas nor meeting minutes are available on the Library’s web site. Yes, the meetings are open to the public but are held in the afternoons when few can attend. Notice of meetings are posted in the Libraries but otherwise not widely disseminated. Given the Library’s web site expertise, I can think of no logical reason for these documents not being posted except for lack of desire to disseminate. Quite frankly we feel the community was left uninformed during the decision process.

What is being requested ?:
1.We respectfully ask that the Board reconsider an expansion of the Orange Branch to bring it more inline with Branches in similar communities.
2. Given the time constraint for a fair evaluation on this topic we ask that the period for public comment be extended for at least one week
Why the need for an expansion?:
When the Orange Library was built the mission was very different than today. Libraries were about books and patrons were expected to read in silence. Today a library does a lot more. The County Library’s mission statement talks about life long learning and civic engagement as well as reading. The County Library’s mission statement talks about serving as a gathering place. The Library conducts training programs of all types. In short a large part of the Library’s function entails the engagement amongst people, and the engagement of people with technology. All of this requires space.

The following are a few brief examples of the current problems caused by lack of space. The Orange Library has a single, very small meeting room. Because of limited space every year the Library has to turn away high school students for a college entrance review course.  Senior Citizens had to be turned away from a program on orchids, done in collaboration with the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, because of limited space. And there are programs the Library can simply not consider because of lack of space. There is no secondary meeting room where a small group can meet if “the” meeting room is occupied. There is no place to tutor students except in the same area where other patrons are trying to read. In short there is no way to separate and accommodate the diverse groups the library serves without more space. No such problem exists in Beachwood, Maple Heights, Solon and other Libraries that serve East side population.

What are the alternatives ?:
It has been suggested that changing the arrangement of the Library functions can solve the space problem. But there is no detailed analysis to back up this assumption, and no indication of what would be eliminated.  And what happens if after the renovations we discover this is not a solution? The most cost-effective time ( best opportunity) to add space is at the same time other construction is done.

 We are happy that needed repairs are to be done and that considerable cosmetic improvements will be made.  But it is analogous to renovating a house that needs paint, new carpeting and new electrical wiring but doesn’t have enough bedrooms, bathrooms or garage space.  It may look and feel better after the renovation but functionally it hasn’t really solved the problem. From a personal point of view if a trade-off needs to be made I think functionality (space) is more important than appearance.

Accuracy of statements:
 I believe all of the statements I have made above are true and accurate. Because of the need for brevity and the "urgency to publish" it was not possible to include explanatory  details for every statement.

Request to forward to Library Board:
Please forward this public comment to the Cuyahoga County Public Library Board of Directors.


Richard A Leskovec, President
Friends of the Orange Branch Library


Response to the above:

Mr. Leskovec,

Thank you for your comments.

The Library began developing a Facilities Master Plan in 2006 when a group of engaged citizens helped identify the inequity that exists between Library branches throughout the County. This group also identified the challenge of asking individual cities to fund Library building projects and the need to establish an equitable footprint of service throughout the 47 communities served by Cuyahoga County Public Library.

Unfortunately, the economic downturn and unanticipated reductions in state funding and property tax collections have offset revenues from the passage of the 2008 levy, making it necessary for the Library to scale back its long-term facilities plans. State funding cuts made in 2009 are not likely be reinstated and there is still the threat of further reductions in the future. This means that in order to continue to deliver excellent service, the Library must make difficult decisions regarding our existing facilities to maximize its financial resources and reduce operating costs.

Cuyahoga County Public Library remains committed to providing the residents of Orange and surrounding areas with excellent library service. We believe the Facilities Master Plan that has been presented to the Board of Trustees will maximize the Library’s financial resources for the long-term benefit of the entire Library system without compromising the quality of our service. We also believe this plan will put the Library in a better position to ensure that over time all of our facilities may equitably and effectively serve their communities.

As always, the meetings of our Board of Trustees are open to the public. A schedule of Board meetings is available on our website,  To make the details of the proposed plan more conveniently accessible to the public beginning this month we will post the minutes of our Board of Trustees meetings on our website as well.  All minutes of previous meetings are available upon request.

The Board of Trustees will receive a copy of your comments to consider as they deliberate on the future the Cuyahoga County Public Library system.

Sari Feldman
Executive Director
Cuyahoga County Public Library

No comments: