#PromiseReads and Anthem bring new Little Free Libraries to Central

#PromiseReads and Anthem bring new Little Free Libraries to Central

The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is committed to supporting successful educational outcomes for the children of the Central neighborhood. We know that education starts at home, and parents are truly a child’s first teacher. Research shows that the simple presence of books in the home is linked to a child’s educational success.

Promise is proud to have worked with Central residents and partners to establish some of the 11 Little Free Libraries around the neighborhood. These “take a book, leave a book” structures invite residents of all ages to browse a selection of stocked titles and take them home to read.IMG_20181013_121239

As part of the ongoing #PromiseReads initiative, Promise recently presented six new Little Free Libraries to the Central neighborhood, thanks to a generous donation from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. In an October event at the Sterling Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, Promise engagement manager Joe Black spoke to the stewards of the new libraries about what it means to care for and support a Little Free Library.

Stewards all received book donations on behalf of the Kids Book Bank and Cleveland Public Library, as well as a supply from Anthem. Promise Ambassador Gwen Garth, a staple of Central’s art community, plans to fill the library she stewards with crayons, coloring books and additional art supplies for the neighborhood. Felton Thomas, executive director of Cleveland Public Library, and Margaret Bernstein, director of advocacy at WKYC, joined the event to talk about the value of Little Free Libraries in our communities, right alongside the invaluable resource of the public libraries.

The event was broadcast on WKYC. View the clip here.

New Little Free Libraries will be installed or updated in the following locations:

  • Alfred A. Benesch School
  • Boys & Girls Club at King Kennedy
  • Gwen Garth’s Community Garden
  • John’s Church
  • William Patrick Day Early Learning Center

Thank you to those who joined us, as well as to Monica Rudzinski, Sterling branch manager, who welcomed Promise to the library on the first chilly day of fall.




Central’s Sterling library gives children food for mind, body

Central’s Sterling library gives children food for mind, body

The Sterling Branch of Cleveland Public Library was recently featured in The Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com for its role as a vital resource for the children of the Central community. Located at 2220 East 30th street, Sterling library is a home away from home for many children in Central. More from Cleveland.com:

Security guard Sam Darden keeps watch outside as children head to the library after school. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)
Security guard Sam Darden keeps watch outside as children head to the library after school. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)

The mission of libraries has changed: Once focused on feeding minds, they now feed souls, and stomachs, too. 

At close to 3:30 on a recent Wednesday afternoon, uniformed children run around the grounds of Marion Sterling Elementary School, releasing pent-up energy from a long day of classes. School has been in session for just over two weeks, and summer freedom is fresh in their minds. 

Soon, the students gather into small groups of friends and cross East 30th street, just south of Olde Cedar, a CMHA housing project. Security guard Sam Darden stands on the steps of the Sterling Branch of Cleveland Public Library and greets them. Spending time at the library is a routine that is fixed and familiar all summer, after school, on weekends, and during school breaks. 

Most of the children head to the community room, where they know they’ll get an after-school meal. There is some pushing and shoving in line among the rambunctious group as library branch manager Monica Rudzinski records each student’s name for The Cleveland Food Bank’s Kids Cafe, which sponsors the food program. 

“Libraries aren’t just about information anymore,” says Rudzinski, wiping down a table to get it ready for the next wave of students. “We are about helping the community get the services they need.” 

The library finds lots of ways to nourish their young patrons. Members of the Cleveland Orchestra have played at the library. Area artists donate time to help students explore different ways to be creative. Cleveland State students offer tutoring help. 

“Part of the history and tradition of this branch — caring for children — has always been what Sterling is about,” said Rudzinski. “I sensed it when I came here five years ago. You feel it, and you continue it.” 

Children's librarian Angela Csia helps a student navigate a notebook on a Tech Tuesday at the Sterling branch of the Cleveland Public Library. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)
Children’s librarian Angela Csia helps a student navigate a notebook on a Tech Tuesday at the Sterling branch of the Cleveland Public Library. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)

She says children are waiting at the door when the library opens on weekends. 

“Some will come in here on a Saturday and tell me they have a headache,” she says. “Right away I think, ‘Do they need glasses?’ But we know the kids are just hungry. So we get big bags of cereal for not much money, and we can feed them on the weekend. There might be an ice cream truck that comes around in the summer, so we will buy them ice cream treats. Just impromptu things like that, other kids might take for granted. But there is no ice cream store anywhere near here.” 

Angela Csia, children’s librarian, says that at their 6,500-square-foot branch, they give out lunches every weekday, 10,000 a year. “They never taught that in grad school,” she says. 

“These kids have a certain numbness, I don’t think ‘war zone’ is an exaggeration,” she says, her eyes tearing up. “Recently, at 5 p.m., in broad daylight, a 32-year-old man was shot and killed just down the street. It’s a busy intersection. Some kids were witnesses. Student after student came in to tell us about it, and they said it matter-of-factly, with no emotion. Imagine what it does to your body and your psyche to have to be on constant alert.” 

She looks over the students now in the library. It is nearing 5 p.m., and most of the kids don’t look like they plan to leave any time soon. “It’s one thing not to have food or a cell phone, but if you don’t feel safe, or don’t feel like you can sleep,” she shakes her head, knowing that is the case with many of these children. But, she says, she is glad that the library and the staff can provide a safe space that the youths can count on every day. 

“It isn’t about books,” she says. “It’s about relationships and caring.”

Read the full story from Cleveland.com and see more photos here.

Sterling library and Woodland library, located at 5806 Woodland Ave.) offer free tutoring. Get dates and details here.

Free tutoring at Cleveland Public Library branches

Free tutoring at Cleveland Public Library branches

Cleveland Public Library is offering free tutoring sessions through out the city of Cleveland and at two of its library branches in Central. The Sterling library and Woodland library have tutoring and homework help available on a variety of school subjects Monday through Thursday. Individual or small group tutoring allows students to receive a level of attention that’s difficult to obtain in large classrooms. Tutoring also helps raise children’s self-esteem as the student begins to experience success.


Tutoring in reading for children in kindergarten through third grade is available from 4 – 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday at the Woodland branch of the Cleveland Public Library. Reading tutoring and support for K – 3 students is offered at the library in partnership with Braxton Education and Technology Consulting. The Woodland branch is located at 5806 Woodland Ave, Cleveland, Ohio.

Cleveland Public Library Woodland Branch
Cleveland Public Library Woodland Branch

Students who don’t read at grade level by third grade often have a difficult time catching up as they progress through school. If your child is having difficulty reading or could use a more support, now is the time to start for K-3 students and take advantage of free tutoring opportunities available in Central.

All subjects

Both the Sterling library branch and Woodland library have one-on-one or group tutoring and homework help available for kindergarten through 8th grade in math, science, history and language arts. These support sessions are available from 3 – 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and are offered in partnership with Cleveland State University’s America Reads tutoring services. The Sterling library branch is located at 2200 E30th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.

The complete list of Cleveland Public Library tutoring sessions and locations is available here.