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Library celebrates new career center, more ‘comfy seating’

Alex Omahen plays with the controls in the Fairview Park Branch Library's new children's play and learning area as Cuyahoga County Public Library Executive Director Sari Feldman and Mayor Eileen Patton discuss the $1 million library renovation project Aug. 1. (West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)

By Kevin Kelley

Fairview Park

After a $1 million renovation project, the Fairview Park Branch Library now has what Cuyahoga County Library system customers have repeatedly asked for.

More “comfy seating.”

During remarks at an Aug. 1 ribbon cutting ceremony marking the completion of the project, Sari Feldman, the library system’s executive director, noted the renovation included better couches and seats in the expanded first-floor area for newly purchased materials.

Of course, the project included much more than places where library patrons can park their behinds.

The new career center would help “put Cuyahoga County back to work,” Feldman said.

“It’s a place where job seekers can turn for free-of-charge career counseling, workshops and access to career information and resources,” she said.

A new, 16-terminal computer lab will offer free classes on software programs that many employers typically expect their workers to have proficiency with, Feldman added.

“In our effort to create the most convenient, customer-friendly branch possible for you, we have also added self-checkout machines and made improvements to our checkout area,” she said.

The teen space was also updated with new furniture, carpeting and a video game system, with the goal of making it an “after-school destination,” Feldman said.

The Aug. 1 ceremony took place adjacent to the new Play, Learn and Grow space for children. Feldman said it is where “young children can engage in constructive play and build the literacy and learning skills necessary for success in school and beyond.”

“With NASA Glenn Research Center and the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport so close by, we chose a travel theme for this new space,” Feldman explained. Books holders are built into three airplanes that surround a control tower. Walls are covered with images from the continents of the world.

For Duane Van Dyke, whose architectural firm worked on the renovation, the project provided a bit of a back-to-the-future feeling. While at another firm, Van Dyke served as architect for the construction of the new Fairview Park library branch building 15 years ago.

Van Dyke told West Life it was a rewarding experience to work again on the library.

The travel-oriented learn-and-play area provides an opportunity for children to show their imagination, Van Dyke explained.

“You come to Fairview Park Airport and you have the opportunity to travel around the world,” he said of the concept.

Mayor Eileen Patton called the local library branch “the heartbeat of our community.”

The city has a great ongoing partnership with the library and its employees, the mayor said in her remarks.

“We love everybody that works here,” she said. “They’re the friendliest group ever.”

She noted that the city’s recreation center, the Gemini Center, in 2005 was built next to the library and the high school to create a civic campus effect.

Patton recalled that each of her four children spent a good deal of time at the library. She joked that her son Owen passed the bar exam because he spent so much time studying in the library’s old uncomfortable chairs.




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