Holy Stokes! Great balls of revival! A place to truly inspire…we are talking about The Cleveland Public Library. The third largest library in the nation, the Cleveland Public Library is held in high regard, prestige and honor, all afforded to the good people of northeast Ohio. The good fortune of having such an incredible institution at our fingertips’ leisure is a wonderful feat…to say the least!
Established in 1869, the first library was a single rented room on Superior and West 3rd. The Cleveland Public Library was the first library in the U.S.A. to offer citizens open bookshelves, which means that people had access to open stacks of books to browse at their convenience. They were allowed to directly choose their selection, instead of having to ask the librarian to retrieve a desired book, what was then the standard practice before Cleveland Public Library was on the scene.
Today the library has grown to its current size of two big buildings located downtown on Superior. The Classical Revival opened its doors in 1923 and the adjacent Louis Stokes Building opened its doors in 1997. (This building was named in honor of Ohio’s first African-American mayor, elected in 1967, of any major U.S. city, right here in Cleveland.) The buildings connect underground by a corridor. Above ground they connect by a tremendous outdoor reading garden, Eastman Park, after one of the first librarians to have worked in the system, Linda A. Eastman. This paradise of knowledge totals a massive 529, 204 square foot area.
Within this space, your viewfinders will see gorgeous marble staircases, outstanding murals, beautiful mosaics, adorned ceilings, and other artisanship that will stimulate your senses. Also known as “The People’s University,” the Cleveland Public Library has networked with thirty-one libraries in nine Ohio counties, and houses twenty-eight branches within the Cuyahoga County Public Library system. The library’s circulation has more than ten million books, DVD’s, tapes, CD’s, 1.3 million photographs, a massive “rare” book collection, and an array of topnotch specialty collections from all over the universe. Whew…now, that’s exciting!
The library is recognized as a national leader in web-based services. The organization was the first library in America to offer eBooks to their patrons. (Ebooks are electronic books that are downloadable onto a laptop or PDA format.) In 1988, a “remote access to the library’s catalog” was available from personal/work computers to the community. Also accessible is new technology that allows you to renew items, put items on hold, and have them delivered to your local branch. All this for free.
This is the one system you should rightfully take advantage of…exercise the benefits of our very own powerhouse. You’ll too leave thinking “Holy Stokes,” “Great balls of revival!”
“To be the best urban library system in the country by providing access to the worldwide information that people and organizations need in a timely, convenient, and equitable manner.”
-Mission Statement of the Cleveland Public Library
For more information about the Cleveland Public Library, type www.cpl.org in your address bar, and click go!