On March 23, 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a state-wide stay-at-home order to contain the spread of coronavirus. Our Library’s leadership team began planning a phased reopening plan in an effort to serve community needs and prepare for eventual return of staff and customers to its buildings. The plan would consist of four phases.
During the first phase of the reopening plan, we enhanced our collection of digital resources, began offering virtual author events, and launched an Ask Us Online service to provide virtual reference and email support for customers with questions about their library account or accessing eBooks and other digital resources from home.
Investments in Wi-Fi accessibility
When our buildings closed, residents logged more than 70,000 sessions on our WiFi network ... from our parking lots.
In March 2020, we extended the range of the Wi-Fi service at our branches so that customers could access the web from our parking lots. When branches reopened for drive-through and curbside service in June 2020, Wi-Fi users resumed printing documents using the Library’s mobile printing service.
Virtual author events
More than 13,000 people attended our 73 virtual author visits in 2020. At times, attendance numbers more than doubled our most successful in-person events. More than 900 peak live viewers watched Connie Schultz and Sen. Sherrod Brown, and 882 live viewers joined the conversation with Mary Kay Andrews, Susan Mallery and Elin Hilderbrand. Recordings of the virtual visits also allowed customers to watch the conversations even if they missed the live event.
The authors who visited in 2020 appealed to a range of reading tastes, covering genres that ranged from the gritty thrillers of Karin Slaughter to the charming romances of Meg Cabot. The Library welcomed antiracist voices (Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Ibram X. Kendi), customer favorites (Janet Evanovich and John Scalzi), noted local writers (Thrity Umrigar and Philip Metres) and even international sensations (Camilla Läckberg and Sophie Hannah).
One Community Reads
Try This at Home
We engaged customers online during the pandemic with short videos that highlighted the expertise of our staff and showcased aspects of our digital collection and electronic resources. Team members collaborated remotely to produce and publish more than 80 videos that helped young children with their language development, prepared kids to enter kindergarten, recommended great books available from the Library and demonstrated electronic resources that customers can use from home.
Staff created Try This at Home maker videos for customers during the height of the stay-at-home order. These fun activities offered step-by-step instructions and used household items. Literature lovers created blackout poetry inspired by Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson; Harry Potter fans baked Hagrid’s famous edible rock cakes; and kids made an adorable washcloth teddy bear – a craft so popular that customers viewed the video more than 12,000 times on social media.
Across Cuyahoga County, families can venture outside to enjoy stories in a unique experience that combines reading and healthy activity. It’s called StoryWalk and it was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk participants follow a path of pages and talk about the story as they go.
Cuyahoga County Public Library branches collaborated with cities, community organizations and Friends of the Library groups to develop and install more than a dozen of these stories outside branches and in community parks. Families shared photos of their StoryWalk adventures by posting them to social media with the hashtag #StoryWalk and tagging the Library.