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County Library and County Hospital Partnership

Cuyahoga County Public Library
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Innovation Summary

In 2011, Cuyahoga County Public Library and MetroHealth expanded their partnership by collaborating to create a dedicated library Service Point in the MetroHealth Medical Center. Through the Service Point, the Library provides materials and contributes to the hospital’s prenatal education classes.

Problem Statement

For 30 years, Cuyahoga County Public Library and MetroHealth have collaborated to provide patients with access to a small collection of materials in the MetroHealth Medical Center Patient Activity Center. The Library and MetroHealth wanted to expand the partnership by integrating the Library’s MetroHealth satellite into the Library’s system so that patients, visitors and hospital staff could access convenient services at “the point of care.” The Library and hospital envisioned a place where consumer health and other library materials could be checked out and delivered between 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. To fund the build-out of this Service Point, the Library sought a $100,000 grant from the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation. The Library also sought to contribute literacy programming to MetroHealth’s Childbirth Center, where the hospital delivers approximately 2,900 newborns every year. The Library’s Health & Science Specialist would function as an extended member of the hospital staff, “prescribing” consumer health materials to patients referred by hospital staff.


Cuyahoga County Public Library’s MetroHealth Service Point features a collection of consumer health materials; fiction and nonfiction books; magazines; DVDs; four public Internet computers; a book drop for returns; a convenient express check-out machine; and a combination printer, fax and copy machine for public use. A Health & Science Specialist and a bilingual clerk staff the Service Point to assist library customers. Through a Library Services and Technology Act grant, the Library also offers a self-service Media Box kiosk at the Service Point for customers to borrow and return DVDs using their library cards. The Library contributes to early literacy and a lifetime of reading enjoyment by participating in the hospital’s year-round prenatal classes. The Library’s Youth Literacy & Outreach Supervisor and Health & Science Specialist present a literacy workshop during the first week of the hospital’s five-week prenatal classes. To begin the workshop, the staff members offer an overview on the Library’s Service Point for expectant parents. The two staff members explain to the expectant parents that they are already demonstrating their commitment to their child’s well-being by participating in the classes. Staff also stress that the child’s literacy development can start now. The staff members then lead a sample “Baby and Me” storytime, which includes a rhyme, a book and a song. After the song, staff share one of the toys from the Library’s Toy Lending Service and explain this special collection. Before the session ends, the Library presents expectant parents with its New Baby Packet, containing literacy and educational tools. The staff members review each component in the packet and answer any questions.


In its first year of operation, the MetroHealth Service Point circulated more than 55,000 items. “This new, more visible location will hopefully encourage more patients and patient families to take advantage of this important resource,” said Dr. Al Connors, Chief Medical Officer for MetroHealth. “The Health & Science Specialist will be like an extension of our medical team, providing books and DVDs that help patients relieve their anxiety, learn more about their illness or cope with their recovery.” Because of the importance of literacy and education in the prenatal classes, the lead instructor moved the Library’s presentation from the third week to the first. The instructing team is pursuing a grant to present the prenatal classes in other facilities in the county. Cuyahoga County Public Library and MetroHealth continue to enhance their partnership with new programming that combines literacy and health. Dr. Robert Needlman, a MetroHealth pediatrician and editor of the latest edition of Dr. Spock’s Baby & Child Care, offered his “Survival Guide for Parents: From Car Seats to Driver’s Seats” at the Library’s Strongsville Branch in February 2012. Other experts from MetroHealth offer programs at the Library’s branches on topics such as childhood nutrition, chronic pain and allergies.