April 20, 2020
Dear Community Members,
On March 13, following guidelines from the state of Ohio, the Board of Trustees of the Heights Libraries closed its doors to the public.
However, while the buildings are closed, our staff are still busy serving the community in many ways. They have continued to make some services available by relying on online activities such as online reference services through the website, virtual storytimes on social media, and the many digital resources collections available through CLEVNET and through our own online databases such as Hoopla, Acorn TV, and Kanopy.
They have also been hard at work reaching out via social media postings, blog posts, podcasts, and eNewsletters containing suggestions for how to weather the closings with young children at home, how to use Zoom for meetings, and how to avoid scams that have surfaced during the pandemic. In addition to providing as many services as possible during closure, all staff members have also been instructed to use this time to complete learning goals and strategic goals.
Staff have continued to support civic and humanitarian causes such as Red Cross Blood Drives, the distribution of fresh produce to low-income and out-of-work people through the Greater Cleveland Foodbank Mobile Pantries, and the distribution of crucial information about voting and the 2020 Census.
Staff have been working together remotely to prepare for a soft reopening, when some of the restrictions are lifted by the authorities, including purchasing protective equipment and figuring out how customers can safely enter the buildings.
We are also taking care of our four buildings. Buildings staff is conducting deep cleaning and, when possible, conducting facilities projects that were planned before the pandemic. Two such projects are the replacement of the air conditioner at the Lee Road branch and the outdoor waterproofing project at the Coventry Branch. We are also preparing for the eventual installation of an automated materials handling system at the Lee Road branch, which will allow us to process thousands of items a day, which will free up staff to help customers.
These many services and preparations have been maintained because of the excellent financial position of the library. We anticipate cuts in state funding and local tax revenue, but with some strategic decisions we can continue to pay the library staff for an extended period of time. Some of those decisions are:
- We are planning budget cuts to the General Fund of up to 20% for now and will readjust later in the year.
- We have instituted a hiring freeze and put a hold on raises.
- We have reduced physical book purchases and increased virtual book purchases.
- We have put a hold on master planning and some library facility improvements for the near future.
The board has decided to extend the provision of calamity pay until further notice because:
• The library staff is continuing to provide services and will be implementing even more in the weeks to come, while still conforming with the stay-at-home order.
• With input from the Centers for Disease Control, staff are creating plans for limited book circulation and other library activities once we are given the go ahead from the state.
Thank you for your support during this unprecedented time. We are here for you, wherever you are!
We look forward to having you back in our buildings.
Board of Library Trustees
James K. Roosa, President