A Congratulations To Parma For Helping Pass Issue 70
I was really rooting for Parma’s education bill to pass. The schools have desperately needed the funding ever since ex-Superintendent Jeffrey Graham bankrupted the district and fled to Lorain, who then had the audacity to turn around and sue our school system in 2019 for telling the truth: our school district’s money troubles were the direct result of his leadership. I mention this so you, dear fellow Parma resident, may consider this point in future school levies.
However, there is a very bright light that came out of the 2020 election that all residents of Parma—and the rest of Cleveland—should celebrate. This is the passage of Issue 70, which provides extra funding for the Cuyahoga County Public Library.
What the Bill Does
According to WKYC, this levy is the first of its kind in over a decade, generates $18 million for the library system annually, and costs Cuyahoga County residents less than $3 per month (per $100,000 home value). It prevents budget cuts, slashed services, and reduced hours. More importantly, according to the library’s website, the levy directly provides the following benefits:
- Continue to operate CCPL’s 27 branches.
- Maintain virtual services, which have been critical during the pandemic.
- Preserve evening and weekend hours for students and residents who need access to computers and a reliable Internet connection.
- Make necessary safety and security updates.
- Sustain a robust materials collection.
- Maintain critical services, like after-school homework help and training for job seekers.
Why it Matters
Many people don’t seem to know this, but we have the best library system in the country. No, really. The CCPL has been rated by the Library Journal’s Index of Public Library Services, an independent review body that in 2019 compared a total of 6,333 U.S. public libraries, as the best library in the nation for ten years in a row. According to their rating system across six categories which measures things like book and DVD circulation to program attendance, it isn’t even close. The CCPL scored 19% better than the second-place library system.
Our library system—and it is indeed ours—does more than rent out books, movies, and e-books. It provides help applying for jobs and constructing resumes. It gives internet access to those who don’t have it. Our libraries provide career advice, hosts speakers, and offers hundreds of different programs for people of all ages, ranging from storytime activities for toddlers to 3D printing classes for anyone interested. It even supports those willing to offer their expertise to the public. Since 2015, I have run a poetry workshop at the Powers Blvd location. While my personal connection to the CCPL is small, I can attest that the staff and administration is kind, motivated, and knowledgeable.
More than any other library system, the CCPL has remained reflexive and innovative over the last couple of decades, and successfully shifted its services to stay relevant in the internet age. This year, while the pandemic raged, the library found temporary digital solutions to continue programming until the CCPL can safely re-continue the full gamut of its resources.
We should never take for granted the excellent library institution that Cleveland, with Parma’s help, has built. It is one of our city’s finest achievements. And by the looks of this year’s vote, it seems our residents know this. Let’s not forget!
Jeremy is the author of We Grow Tomatoes in Tiny Towns (2019) and lives in Parma with his wife and two kids. He is the founder and facilitator of the West Side Poetry Workshop, and is the philanthropy director and board member of the Young Professionals of Parma, a community nonprofit.