GAINES, ERVIN J. (8 Dec. 1916-21 June 1986), CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY director (1974-1985), was born in New York City to Ervin J. and Helen Hennessey Gaines. He graduated from Columbia University (1942) before joining the Navy. He returned to Columbia as an English instructor (1946-53), and earned his master's degree (1947) and doctorate (1952). From 1953-56, Gaines worked for the anti-Soviet Radio Liberation in Munich; then entered personnel management, including work with Boston Public Library, which led to a position as assistant director there (1958-64). From 1964 to 1974 he directed Minneapolis Public Library.
In Cleveland, Gaines found declining circulation, a large unpaid staff, a divided board, outmoded operations, physically deteriorating libraries, and public displeasure resulting in a 1974 levy defeat. Gaines quickly eliminated little-used programs and books to cut costs, increased salaries 20%, consolidated branch libraries, and implemented use of the Library of Congress book-numbering system. To finance such changes, he directed a successful levy campaign in 1975. Branch libraries were reduced from 39 in 1974 to 31 in 1984, with 8 new and 10 remodeled buildings; through attrition, library employees were reduced from 649 to 451; and after declining to 2.6 million items in 1978, circulation increased to 4.1 million in 1984. Gaines replaced the card catalog with a computerized system, and launched the valuable index of local papers (1976-) and Cleveland Heritage Project. As executive director of Urban Libraries Council, Gaines supported federal aid to libraries. Gaines married Martha Zirbel on 11 Feb. 1938 and had two children: Colleen and Sanford. He died in Cleveland and was cremated.