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Rice Branch Campus and The Learning Center
Cleveland Public Library
Felton Thomas, Director, Cleveland Public Library, Felton.Thomas@cpl.org
Rice Branch was an aging, small branch library with little capacity to accommodate computers to meet increasing community demand. Wiring the branch to increase the number of computers available to the neighborhood was not feasible. Always interested in weaving the services and mission of the Library into the fabric of the city of Cleveland, the Library searched for partners to reinvent Rice branch as a center for learning and technology in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood.
Over the course of several months, Cleveland Public Library partnered with Cleveland Municipal School District, Buckeye Area Development Corporation, Neighborhood Progress Inc., St. Luke’s Foundation, Cleveland Public Art, and ParkWorks Cleveland to develop plans to create a learning campus on the former St. Luke’s Medical Center property that would engage the community at all levels. The vision was to integrate the new Rice Branch into a vibrant, sustainable campus with the new Harvey Rice Elementary School, a community garden, and new housing for seniors. By providing access to a much larger and open Rice Branch with many more computers, large meeting rooms and special areas dedicated to children, teens and adults, the Cleveland Public Library has created an inviting space for all.
The resulting learning campus, of which Rice Branch is an integral part, is a model for a diverse, sustainable neighborhood where young families with children and elderly residents live together and have access to the LEED certified Rice Branch, efficient public transportation, Harvey Rice Elementary School and a community garden. The Rice Branch is made more attractive by the sustainable building practices and engagement with local artists that tie it to the Buckeye neighborhood. In seeking to enrich the education of students from Harvey Rice Elementary School and beyond, the Library obtained funding from St. Luke’s Foundation to create The Learning Center in the Rice Branch. The Learning Center provides educational opportunities through afterschool tutoring, math peer tutoring on Saturdays and GED classes. By participating in the revival of the Buckeye neighborhood the Library successfully positioned the Rice Branch as the hub of the learning campus and demonstrated its commitment to providing engaging and sustainable spaces for the people of Cleveland.