Heights Libraries Opens New Local History Room

Heights Libraries is pleased to announce the opening of its new Local History Room at the Lee Road branch.

Located on the building’s second floor, the room is the culmination of years of planning that began in 2016 with the Library’s centennial celebration. That year, staff began pulling together photos and documents to create an online historical timeline for the Heights Libraries system.

“Once we had the Library’s history documented, we decided to start looking at ways we could help community members learn more about the history of the area and do their own research,” said Local History Librarian Jessica Robinson. “First, we added local history resources to our website; then we began figuring out where we could put a local history room.”

The local history room occupies the former Quiet Study Room, a large, glassed-in area that once housed chairs and tables and provided a silent atmosphere for customers. After the small study rooms on the second floor became reservable a few years ago, use of the Quiet Study Room decreased, and the space was deemed the perfect size and location for the Library’s local history collection. The space is large enough to accommodate tools such as a flatbed scanner and microfilm readers, and a desk for the Library’s local history librarian, and a work space for customers.

“This work is very meaningful for me, because building a local history collection is truly sacred and serious work,” she said. “Archival repositories and the archivists who maintain them play a large role in determining cultural memory, because they choose whose histories are preserved through digitization and other methods, and in doing so, they also wind up determining who will have access to those stories in the future. In essence, those of us who work with historical material are writing tomorrow’s history today.”

The room’s materials include:

  • Cleveland and East Suburban City Directories
  • Heights High Caldron yearbooks and alumni directories
  • Local history reference book collection
  • Sun Press and Cleveland Press microfilm
  • Local history lectures and Cleveland Heights city council meetings on DVD
  • Archival photographs, blueprints, and other documents chronicling the history of Heights Libraries
  • Microfilm reader ScanPro 2200
  • Book scanner KIC Bookeye 4v2

Customers can access the room most weekday afternoons from 2 to 4 p.m., or by special appointment by emailing localhistory@heightslibrary.org. Customers can also access online services and resources on the Library’s local history web page.

Customers who would like to borrow local history reference books, including city directories or yearbooks, can do so when the room is closed by requesting them from staff at the second-floor reference desk.

“Our vision for this space is one of unity and collaboration,” said Robinson,  “and we hope that this room will act as a hub for the local community to gather to research our past, share our stories, and  preserve our history for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

 

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