The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
Held annually in April, Legislative Day is an opportunity for Ohio libraries to meet with legislators and advocate on behalf of their work and impact on communities. The Toledo Lucas County Public Library is one of the many Ohio libraries who take part in this day – and this year, will proudly share the following information and accomplishments about our system with legislators:
Childhood Development and Initiatives
Reading books to a child beginning in early infancy can boost vocabulary and reading skills.
In 2018, the Ready to Read team traveled to grocery stores, laundromats, the NICU, and even rode the metro bus – anywhere care providers may be with their young children – to show 3,482 parents and caregivers how to read to their children and distributed 1,188 early literacy training kits.
Additionally, the Library’s new No Fines policy removed the fear of fines as a barrier to parents checking out books to read to their children.
Early literacy and language skills are the building blocks of development and as important as breast-feeding and getting vaccinations to ensure children get the best start in life. The Library presented Storytimes to nearly 100,000 children across its locations and provided 100+ intensive Storytimes at more than 40 Toledo Public School kindergarten classrooms.
All the great resources at the Library don’t mean much if our customers are hungry. Through a partnership with Connecting Kids to Meals, 8 Library locations provide afterschool meals during the school year and 14 locations serve lunches all summer long to children up to age 18 in the community.
Countdown to Kindergarten programs are offered at all Toledo Library locations and designed to prepare every child for this developmental milestone. With songs, stories, activity stations and take-home activities, parents and children are prepared for success in school and beyond.
Additionally, the Library provides educators, students and parents with online learning tools, book kits organized by topic and grade levels, childcare kits with book collections, the Homework Helper program, Tutor.com and more.
Like many communities, Lucas County is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. In response, the Library’s Grandparent Project provides a way for grandparents to learn about the legal, financial and educational worlds that have changed considerably since their first go-round as parents.
Workforce and Economic Development
It is projected that by 2020, 50% all workers will be independent freelancers. The Toledo Library is one of just 12 North American libraries to be chosen for the Urban Libraries Council Entrepreneurial Cohort, which will explore ways libraries can reach and engage entrepreneurs in their communities. As part of this work, the Library’s Economic Success Team has stepped away from the traditional library desk to take their business and information expertise out into the community to help people start and grow businesses and nonprofits.
The most recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that there are almost 9 million jobs in the STEM field with an alarming number going unfilled, presenting enormous job opportunities for people with the necessary skills. The Library is closing the STEM education gap and providing opportunities for its citizens as the region continues to define its place in the post-industrial economy.
In 2018, the Toledo Library presented:
- 200+ Coding classes
- 450+ Computer training classes
- 500+ One-to-one technology training sessions
- 800+ Mobile Technology Center visits throughout the community
The issue of poverty is especially concerning to the Library, as 20.7 percent of the Lucas County population lives in poverty – the highest percentage of Ohio’s metro regions. The state’s Poverty Report shows that the clearest way out of poverty is steady employment. But what is needed to get a job?
- A high school diploma: we partner with Owens Community College and Penta Career Center to offer GED classes
- A computer to search for and apply for a job: TLCPL has 674 public computers and keeps current job listings at most branches. There were 692,379 public computer sessions last year.
- An email address, resume, cover letter and online job application: TLCPL staff help people with these documents every day.
In addition to job search assistance, the Library provides:
- Basic computer skills classes and tutoring
- Adult literacy and English as a second language assistance
- Free faxing for the numerous governmental forms needed to access benefits and assistance
- Education with Harbor Behavioral Health about the opioid epidemic
Arts-related, creative and cultural businesses produce an economic impact of $3.84 billion annually in northwest Ohio. All of our new and renovated spaces feature creative labs and maker spaces where people can create films with professional hardware and software, record podcasts and original music, access large format and 3D printers, use the latest design software, and create artisan products with a variety of tech tools. We also provide hundreds of free art programs each season for children, teens and adults – from beginner to advanced skill levels.
Quality of Life
The Brookings Institution has highlighted the importance of “third places” where people from all walks of life exchange ideas, have fun and build relationships. Some researchers think that third places are the key to healing the nation’s civic divides. Brookings identifies public libraries as particularly strong and important third places due to trust, sense of neutrality, location and accessibility. In 2018, the Toledo Library proudly welcomed nearly 3 million customers last year to its vital third places.
There are more than 201,000 people age 60 or older in northwest Ohio. More than 40 percent of seniors experience loneliness on a regular basis and that loneliness is as harmful as smoking, obesity or lack of physical activity. It is also a risk factor for cognitive decline, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and obesity.
The Library’s Mobile Services team cares for seniors in our community to combat loneliness and isolation by delivering 200,447 materials to assisted living centers and more than 600 homebound people.
With age comes a decline in memory and brain function, but regular reading may help slow the process. Those who engage their brains through activities such as reading could be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Research also suggests that reading can reduce stress by as much as 68 percent.
The Library is keeping the Greater Toledo area at the top of its game with 5.2 million books and materials circulated in 2018. Likewise, the Library hosts Summer Read and the 101 Picture Book Challenge to inspire people of all ages to read more.
By sharing its many impactful accomplishments and offerings, the Toledo Library hopes that legislators truly will see that at Ohio libraries…books truly are just the beginning.