Q&A with the Cuyahoga County Public Library

We hear you’re hosting Ruth Reichl in June. What should folks know about the event?

We couldn’t be more excited! On Wednesday, June 3, we will host Ruth Reichl* for an author lecture and book signing at our Parma-Snow Branch Auditorium, starting at 7pm. We’re sold out for the pre-event reception with Ruth, featuring delectable bites from Cleveland chef Chris Hodgson. Tickets to the lecture and book signing are still available, and include a copy of her first novel, Delicious!—click here for more information. Catanese Classic Seafood co-owners Jim and John Catanese and Zack Bruell will be joining Edible Cleveland that evening, as our event sponsors. It’s sure to be a fun, yummy, and exciting evening!

Ruth Reichl (c) Fiona Aboud* As many of your readers are probably aware, Ruth Reichl is a best-selling author, restaurant critic and food editor. She began writing about food in 1972, when she published Mmmmm: A Feastiary. Since then, she has authored critically acclaimed, best-selling memories Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me With Apples, Garlic and Sapphires and For You Mom, Finally. She has appeared on the Food Network and Top Chef Masters and is the executive producer of the public television series Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie. Ruth has been honored with six James Beard Awards.


Tell us about some of the fun foodie things you’ve done throughout the past year.

We were especially proud that for the 7th year in a row, we participated in a Food-4-Fines drive to benefit Harvest for Hunger. This year we collected 22,587 pounds of food and $2,750–almost double the amount collected last year!

Just last month the Library also held its 5th annual Bake-A-Book, Win a Nook contest. Middle school and high school students baked and decorated cakes depicting literary works competing to take the top prize for each age group, a Nook. Second and third places in both age groups received Barnes & Noble gift cards, courtesy of The Grand Finale bakery. Judges included Anna Weisend of The Grand Finale bakery and Bridget Thibeault of Luna Bakery & Café. After judging, Thibeault discussed her book, Cupcake Decorating Lab: 52 Techniques, Recipes, and Inspiring Designs for Your Favorite Sweet Treats!

And back in February, we partnered with OverDrive, the first-ever “global eBook club.” During the Big Library Read, our customers (and readers all over the world) were granted unlimited access to download and read the eBook Keys to the Kitchen by Food Network star Aida Mollenkamp.


Does the Library have a food collection?

Cookbooks are among our most popular items!  We have a wide array of them.  They provide a little taste of everything, from Cleveland’s past:

The Silver Grille: Favorite Recipes from Higbee’s Silver Grill by Judith Karberg, Jane Hazen

To today’s vibrant food scene:

Noodle Kids: Around the World in 50 Fun, Healthy, Creative Recipes the Whole Family Can Cook Together by Jonathon Sawyer

Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 by Michael Symon with Douglas Trattner

Our cookbook collection reflects the diverse population we serve, representing cuisines from around the world and helping our customers with specific dietary needs (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free). As of today, there are roughly 4,962 individual cookbook titles in our physical collection, 1,644 titles available in our OverDrive eBook collection, and in 2014 books on food & drink counted for 291,801 checkouts system wide. So you could say our readers are foodies!


Tell us a little about the Cuyahoga County Public Library.

Cuyahoga County Public Library is among the nation’s best and busiest public library systems. In 2014, we circulated nearly 20 million items and hosted more than 7.9 million visits to our branches. With 27 branches serving 47 communities across Cuyahoga County, we are committed to our mission of being at the center of community life by creating an environment where reading, lifelong learning and civic engagement thrive.


What about the Cuyahoga County Public Library surprises people the most?

Everyone knows we lend books, but they are surprised to learn that we have new exciting digital services – Hoopla streaming music, Freegal music service, and OverDrive, streaming videos—that provide our customers with access to millions of songs and hundreds of streaming movies.

They also might not realize that nearly 22,000 people visited our branches every day including more than 10,000 individuals and community groups who used our public meeting rooms last year.


What other cool things does the Library offer?

This year we added more than 1,000 popular eMagazines and newspapers to our digital collection including, Food Network Magazine, Saveur, La Cucina Italiana, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Weightwatchers, Eating Well, Bon Appétit, Cooks Illustrated, Wine Enthusiast, and many more.

Want to learn a new language… for free? We are the first public library in the country to offer Living Language, an online learning tool, free of charge to library card holders. Living Language was originally developed for the U.S. State Department’s overseas diplomats. We’ve currently got courses in Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean,  Portuguese, and Russian.

Want to travel abroad this summer? We offer passport processing and photo services every day of the week from the minute we open until one hour before we close so you can get your passport squared away.

Always wanted to record your own CD or video? Our Warrensville Heights Branch has an audio recording studio and our Garfield Heights Branch has an audio and video recording studio. They are both free and open to the public, so you can share your talent with the world.