The Cleveland Public Library was established in 1869 and is situated in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland Public Library operates a mobile library, the Main Library on Superior Avenue in the central business district of Cleveland (downtown Cleveland), 28 branches throughout the city, a library for the blind and physically handicapped and a Public Administration Library in the City Hall. On February 22, 1898, library's first stand-alone children's room was opened by the librarian William Howard Brett and appointed Effie Loise Power as first children's librarian of Cleveland. The Cleveland architects firm of Walker and Weeks founded by Frank Ray Walker and Harry F. Weeks won a competition for designing a new library building in 1915. The construction of the library's Renaissance design was delayed due to the World War I. Eastman was the first woman who headed a major U.S. city library system. She replaced the New York Public Library system in which a librarian has to fetch the books by opening bookshelves for the customers.
Cleveland Public library consists of two buildings. The construction of the older wing was completed on May 6, 1925 and was renovated between 1997 to 1999 and has five stories each as high as two stories of most buildings. The second building dedicated in 1997 was named after Louis Stokes who was a former U.S. Congressman. An underground corridor was constructed below the Eastman Reading Garden to connect both the buildings.
The library use declined and the revenues were not sufficient to support the network of neighbourhood branches which resulted in the deterioration of the branch buildings and the collections by the late 1970s. Ervin J. Gaines was appointed as the eleventh director of the library who began to reorganize and revitalize the Library system. A successful city tax levy helped in securing additional funding in 1975. This additional funding supported a building program worth $20 million to upgrade the branches. The library opened eighteen new facilities with a collection of attractive new books.
To replace the card catalogue, Gaines oversaw the installation of a computerized on-line bibliographic database in 1981. Internal procedures and systems were modernized and an automated circulation system was introduced. The technology was provided to other local libraries. The first to join the CLEVNET system was Cleveland Heights-University Heights. More than 31 libraries from nine Ohio countries and 28 Cuyahoga County Public Libraries became the members of this network by 2004.
Director Mason introduced the remote access to the library's catalogue from personal computers in offices and homes through the Cleveland Public Electronic Library in 1998 and accelerated the library's technological innovations. Mason left her post after 12 years in 1999. Andrew A. Venable, Jr., beacme director in June in 1999 who had served as a deputy director for three years under Mason. Venable made the Cleveland Library a national leader in web-based services. In addition to provide the online resources such as Seniors Connect and KnowItNow24X7, it was the first public library in the U.S. to offer eBooks which are downloadable on laptops or PDA.
The library re-launched mobile services in 2001 after a 15-year hiatus with a high-tech mobile library unit which is easily accessible by handicapped which served 43 different locations by 2004.