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From books to 3D printers and beyond — Cuyahoga County Public Library celebrates 100 years

Posted at 10:47 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 11:00:05-04

CLEVELAND — For 100 years, Cuyahoga County Public Library has helped our community to read, learn, create, and connect.

Libraries have been reinventing themselves for decades as technology continues to evolve. No longer sources of just books and encyclopedias, libraries have morphed into full-service community centers that aim to meet a wide variety of civic and social needs.

“It's more than just books and computers,” said Julius Tate, President of Worldwide Resource Management Group. “If you’ve got an idea, you can start working on something on your own. You know, right now. Right here.”

From VHS to DVDs, now to streaming services and E-books, The Innovation Centers at Cuyahoga County Public Library are creative spaces that provide access to advanced software, emerging technologies, and production equipment.

“Templates, cut outs, t-shirt printing. That's a big business out here, right?” said Tate. “They got a design. They can print it out right here on these printers, right in colorful detail, just as if you will go buy them from one of these retail shops or these craft retailers.”

Creators can even take advantage of 3D printing and CNC machines that can be programmed to precisely cut materials.

“I have teams of engineers that come in and we'll go over product demonstrations,” Tate said. “There are two products right now that we have that's patent-pending that we created among a library. It's a lot of opportunity.”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic upended traditional business, libraries began moving their collections and services online. It transformed how to help fill gaps in families’ access to technology and created new demands within communities.

“The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital collection because when people couldn't come into the library, they finally began taking advantage of our digital collection,” said CEO Tracy Strobel. “ It's been a wonderful addition and made our collection and our services so much more accessible.”

Already a treasure trove of information, libraries morphed into resources for COVID-19 testing during the pandemic.

“We've offered so much over the years, and it's had to morph and change,” said youth services supervisor Tim Protiva.

Also, to mark the 100th anniversary, the library system's board of trustees has approved no more daily overdue fines.

“I love how forward-thinking Cuyahoga County libraries have been, and that's what kept me coming back,” Tate said. “If Elon Musk can put things in space, what can our kids do with resources that Elon Musk is working with?”

You can make your mark with an anniversary gift to the Cuyahoga County Public Library. Gifts of $100 or more in 2022 will be recognized in the library’s online library catalog as a special foundation donor.

To donate, you can click here.

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