Cuyahoga County Library: I Can't Believe It's Not Borders

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A $110 million transformation plan is injecting new life into the Cuyahoga County Library system. Area directors say they want libraries to be community gathering spots — like cafes or bookstores — with 21st century technologies and cozy atmospherics.

The plan was designed in 2011 and aimed at renovating 18 of the system's 28 branches. This year, branches are set to open in Olmsted Falls, North Royalton, Mayfield, Garfield Heights and Parma.

The Warrensville Heights branch was unveiled last year, and the PD reported on its diverse new features this weekend:

"It offers a recording studio, a homework center, a cafe and enough space for the youngest readers to roar and the most serious to reflect," wrote John Caniglia.

As one of the busiest library systems in the country, Cuyahoga County continually seeks new ways to connect with the reading public. Upgrading old buildings with cool gadgets and chic new designs — or constructing completely new state-of-the-art libraries — seemed like an obvious strategy.

The bulk of the plan's funding (nearly $75 million) came from a massive sale of bonds in 2010. The library's capital fund and private donors footed (and will continue footing) the rest of the bill.

Here's hoping that, in its effort to mimic bookstores' aura and ambience, the library system doesn't also mimic their insolvency.

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