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West Park Campus of Cleveland Public Library opens after remodel: Mission Possible

The Cleveland Public Library is executing a multiyear plan to re-image and revitalize all its branches throughout the city.

CLEVELAND — The West Park Campus of the Cleveland Public Library recently had a ribbon cutting to reopen to the public.

“It's amazing. It seems like every single person showed up today. This community really missed us, and we've really missed them,” said Forrest Lykins, the West Park Library Branch Manager.

After years of remodeling, patrons finally got to see what is new at their library.

"We restored some of the original vaulted ceilings, we have more meeting spaces, and the downstairs has been refinished,” said Lykins. “There is a lot more space for the community to enjoy."

This is just one step in grand plans redefining what libraries can be now and into the future. 

"We are really excited to be fulfilling our promise to the community to reimagine all 27 of our neighborhood branches around the city," said the Cleveland Public Library Chief Operations Officer, John Lang.

A levy, which was passed in 2017, gave the library $100 million for the project. For some buildings, that meant renovations, or expansions. In the case of the Hough branch, it meant a new location and campus. 

The library prides itself on a five-star collection and services, but understood something was missing.
"We realized over time that maybe our buildings were no longer quite five-star,” said Lang. “And so this is really a once-in-a-generation opportunity to again reimagine our built infrastructure, the brick and mortar library."

Patrons had input into the design and asked for a living room concept with more community spaces. Bookshelves are all on casters, so the space can be reconfigured for larger events as well as Amazon-style lockers in the vestibules extend access.

"If someone needs to pick up an item from our collections either before we're open or after. And we know people have different schedules, they're able to do that. 24/7," said Lang.

At the West Park branch, the improvements are a hit with patrons.

“It looks amazing. I mean, the space before, you know, if anyone's ever been here, they weren’t utilizing all of it,” said Solomon Simmons. “And I think they've maximized all of this space. And it's really nice lighting, you know, a lot of different activities here now.”

“We know technology will continue to change. We know the needs of the patrons we serve will continue to change. We know various communities will have different needs that evolve over time,” said Lang. “And so, we want buildings that are going to be flexible enough to anticipate and meet those needs.”

West Park is the third library to reopen. Currently, there are 11 active sites, with seven of them in various states of construction. The Lorain, Eastman and Woodland campuses are next on the list.

“We are going to improve all 27 of our branches. So, if you're Branch isn't under construction right now, we are going to get to it,” stated Lang.

“It's been a long time coming, you know, going to different libraries and this was like only ten minutes away from my house. So, I'm very happy to be back here now,” said Simmons.

New buildings and reimagined renovated spaces create excitement in Cleveland's neighborhoods and that translates into more people coming through the door, which is exactly where Cleveland Public Library wants them.

To track the progress of the remolding of all the library branches click here.

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