As your needs change,
we change

On June 1, we began the second phase of our reopening plan, opening 13 branches for either drive-through window or curbside service six days a week. We secured PPE for our staff members and established comprehensive safety and cleaning protocols, including quarantining library materials between borrowers.

On July 6, we reopened all 27 branches to the public. In accordance with the guidance of public health officials, we required masks to be worn at all times, limited the number of people allowed in our buildings and reconfigured our spaces to encourage social distancing. At the same time, we expanded our curbside service to every location for customers who needed library materials, but were not yet comfortable entering our spaces.

Expanding Library2You access

During this phase of our plan, we also expanded the eligibility requirements for our Library2You delivery service for the homebound – making it possible for more county residents to take advantage of the service. By expanding the service, we were able to serve 179 new Library2You customers.

Feeding the Need

The Library partnered with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and Baba’s Yard to distribute free food to those in need across Northeast Ohio — rain, snow or shine — at Library branches on a recurring basis throughout the year. These mobile pantry events proved exceedingly popular. On April 7, for example, the line of cars at the Parma-Snow Branch extended for a mile out of the parking lot. A total of 300 families received food on that day alone.

The Library also distributed food to families in the region through its annual Food4Fines campaign in March, in which customers reduced their fines by bringing in needed food items to their local branch.

Computer donation drive

More than 70,000 pounds of electronic equipment donated

The COVID-19 pandemic and remote learning that occurred as a result illustrated the digital divide that exists in Northeast Ohio. In an attempt to address this inequity, we partnered with PCs for People — which provides refurbished computers to low-income individuals and nonprofits — to bring critical Internet access to students across the region. Throughout August, we collected donated computers at 10 branches. The computers were refurbished by PCs for People and distributed to students across the county.

Support for kids and parents

In the spring of 2020, we transitioned two long-standing youth literacy programs to online platforms: Baby Club and Kindergarten Club. Our 5-week Baby Club program teaches parents of children ages 0-2 research-backed practices to help boost their child’s brain development through play activities via brief videos presented by an early childhood education expert. Nearly 300 families registered for the program and received the latest Baby Club videos each week.
Kindergarten Club helps the parents of children who did not attend preschool or daycare prepare their children for successful transitions to kindergarten. Like Baby Club, these programs would normally have been held in-person over a period of several weeks. For the virtual version of Kindergarten Club, we collaborated with an early childhood education expert to create a series 61 brief videos touching on a variety of topics from the the program’s curriculum, such as building phonological awareness and letter identification. Other videos demonstrated how parents can turn simple tasks like going for a walk outside or gardening into learning opportunities for their child.

Each week during the “Imagine Your Story” Summer Reading Program, we presented a STEAM-related virtual challenge that students could try on their own. Each of these challenges were presented in collaboration with a different partner, such as NASA, Sherwin-Williams, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and others.

Personalized Picks

The pandemic drastically altered customers’ visiting and borrowing habits. To reconnect and curate a Library experience with those who weren’t visiting branches to browse materials, we launched a new service called Personalized Picks, which matches customers with materials — reading materials, DVDs and CDs — based on their answers to a few simple questions. Customers can access Personalized Picks by phone and online.

Job searching during a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a devastating blow to the Northeast Ohio economy, leaving many looking for work. In response, our Cuyahoga Works: Job and Career Services team hosted a series of timely virtual workshops focused on tips and resources for job searching during the pandemic, including how to handle video interviews and create effective video resumes. Participants interacted directly with Cuyahoga Works staff during the webinars. The Cuyahoga Works team brought valuable, unique and local perspective to the topics that was clearly appreciated by the participants. Attendees were eager to learn who was hiring, who was requiring video interviews, and other similar details that the Cuyahoga Works team was able to provide. The webinars averaged 140 participants per session.

Adult education services go virtual

Many of our adult education and workforce programs also made the transition to online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aspire Greater Cleveland, for instance, began offering online GED and English for Speakers of Other Languages classes via Microsoft Teams. Our technology trainers also offered online computer classes. These classes, which help users become more proficient in such programs as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access as well as helping attendees master basic skills such as email and Internet usage, proved to be very popular.
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