The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library is pleased to announce the appointment of its newest board member, Maximilian G. Gerboc. His term will begin in January 2016.
Gerboc, a Cleveland Heights resident for the past three years, graduated from Oberlin in 2008 and works for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, where he is in charge of contract negotiations. He grew up in Euclid and Madison, Ohio, and lived in New York City after graduation from college, but says he moved back to Ohio because he missed the Cleveland area.
Gerboc is passionate about social issues and volunteers for a variety of social justice initiatives, such as Black Lives Matter and Clevelanders for Public Transit. This dedication to social justice inspired him to apply for the Heights Libraries board. “I think the public library is the backbone of community engagement, education, free speech, and democracy,” he says. “I believe the library is an absolute good, a major net positive for the citizens it serves. Whether for education, pleasure, or just a safe space, the public library offers itself, across socio-economic, racial, gender, and religious boundaries, as a beacon of civility and enlightenment in the community.”
Gerboc replaces outgoing board member Rick Ortmeyer, whose term ends in December 2016 after serving a partial four-year term.
Ortmeyer’s board service included a successful library levy campaign in 2014, when he served as vice president, and was instrumental in planning the renovations of the University Heights branch which commenced this year during his term as board president. Ortmeyer’s experience as an architect, currently as a principal with the firm Bostwick Design Partnership, provided the library with crucial expertise. “I’m glad to have been helpful during the early community dialogue regarding the new University Heights Branch,” says Ortmeyer, “and more recently the planning, design and early construction of this exciting project.”
Ortmeyer says his career as an architect helped inspire his library service: “As an architect, I’ve been lucky to work on library projects regionally and nationally, and have seen the important work librarians do in communities everywhere, providing equal access to opportunity and resources. A little over five years ago I met Nancy Levin through mutual friends, and learned about an opening on the board. It felt like an ideal way to contribute something meaningful to my home community while also advocating for the community of librarians, from whom I have learned so much.”
Ortmeyer will be succeeded as board president by Ron Holland, who previously served as vice president and chair of the operations committee.
“I am looking forward to seeing through the completion of the University Heights branch renovation, and the continued growth and success of our library system,” says Holland, who worked at the library in his youth. “My inspiration for joining the library board stems from first being a lifelong user of the library for my personal and educational needs. Secondly, I was inspired to give back to a library system that gave me so many years of employment during my own high school and college years. And now the library serves my children by giving them knowledge.”