CLEVELAND HEIGHTS-UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS PUBLIC LIBRARY, a school district public library system, had its origins in the 1921 opening of the Cleveland Heights Public Library, first housed in the basement of Coventry Elementary School. The establishment of the library was part of a national trend inspired in part by the philanthropy and vision of Andrew Carnegie who saw public libraries as the "poor mans university." A Board of Trustees had been organized as early as 1916, but implementation of plans for the library were delayed by World War I. The new public library absorbed a school library existing at the same location which had been opened the year before. From its beginnings, the public library system was closely tied to the needs of the local school district, serving both students as well as the general public. In 1921, branch libraries were established for Fairfax and Roxboro Elementary Schools, and the next year the High School Library, operated since 1916 by the Cleveland Heights Board of Education, also became a part of the public library system. The Noble Branch Library was opened in 1923 on Noble Elementary School grounds.

The first Librarian, Helen Keeler, served from 1921-1928. The systems first Director, Gayle Clark, was appointed in 1960, and the position of Assistant Director was added in 1963, first held by Rachel Wayne Nelson. In 1982, the title of Assistant Director was changed to Deputy Director, during the tenure of Stephen Wood, who later became Director in 1988 and continued to hold that office in 2002.

In 1924, the administrative offices were moved from Conventry Elementary School to a leased location at 1916 Lee Road, which became for a time the Main Library. The facilities at Coventry continued as the Coventry Branch Library. In 1926, Roosevelt Branch opened serving the Roosevelt Junior High School, the Roxboro Branch was moved to the new Roxboro Junior High School, and the Conventry Library became the Main Library in new quarters at 1925 Coventry Road. The Lee Road facilities became in 1928 the Lee Branch Library. The Monticello Branch was established in 1930 at the Monticello Junior High School. In 1932, the Lee Branch moved to a new building at Lee and Dellwood and absorbed the resources of Fairfax Branch Libary, which was closed. The Noble Branch Library was moved to a permanent structure in 1937 at 2800 Noble Road across the street from the school. In 1952, the University Heights Branch Library was opened at 13833 Cedar Road. In the early 1960s, a number of the branch libraries, including those at the High School, and Monticello, Roosevelt, and Roxboro Junior High Schools, were transferred to the managment of the school districts Board of Education and were no longer a part of the public library system.

In 1965, the name of the system changed to Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library to reflect the name change of the school district, and plans were approved to begin construction of a new building at Lee Road to serve as the Main Library. The new Main Library was opened in 1968 at 2345 Lee Road in a building of 56,000 square feet including space for 250,000 volumes. In 1977, the Main Library was expanded to a total of 64,000 square feet and a public access OCLC terminal was added. In the early 1980s, the Main Library and all three branch libraries went online with automated circulation and an online public access catalog. The Main Library added a computer center in 1995 and developed an Internet site in 1996.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library has received numerous awards and honors. The system gained recognition by the University of Illinois in 1986 as one of 50 outstanding U.S. libraries. In 1993, the library received a Certificate of Acheivement from the Goverment Finance and Officers Association of the United States and Canada for the librarys Comprehensive Annual Report for the year 1991. In 1998, the Conventry Village Library received a Community Vision Award from HEIGHTS COMMUNITY CONGRESS for its Deaf Awareness Program, and Library Directoy, Stephen D. Wood, was honored as the Ohio Library Councils Librarian of the Year. The Noble Neighborhood Library received a Community Improvement Award from the City of CLEVELAND HEIGHTS in 1999. CHUH Public Library was ranked 8th in the country in 1999 among libraries of similar size by Hennen American Public Library Rating Index and was ranked 7th in the country in the same rating in 2000.

Article Categories