September 7, 2016

Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton investment in Stark County libraries paying off

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton awarded a grant in 2015 to the Stark County District Library $3.3 million capital campaign, which is raising money to reimagine what a public library can be in the district’s 10 branches and six mobile units.

At the foundation's August board meeting, Library Executive Director Tena Wilson discussed the changes occurring within the libraries' walls and between the library and the communities it serves. Since assuming her post in 2012, Wilson has led the library through dynamic changes to its branding and information sharing efforts, and approach to collaboration. In leading this renewal, she has applied her experience in corporate marketing and sales, as well as her library leadership in other communities.

Recent efforts include launching the Smart Store® brand and website, offering the Bike Smart bicycle sharing program, eliminating overdue fines and collaborating creatively throughout the community to improve services. Collaboration efforts include employing six parent partners who help Stark County's SPARK families get ready for kindergarten. 

The funding from the foundation and several other community foundations is helping the library continue the changes that began in 2012 by rethinking and renovating layouts in several branches, including those frequented by many low-income families.

Wilson reported that the efforts have been paying off: circulation has increased and more items are being checked out by more patrons than ever before.

Riding the wave of that success, the library is testing out more innovative ideas in its reimagined Jackson Branch, which is temporarily located in Noble's Pond Plaza while the original building is being replaced due to structural issues. The temporary location features a 24/7 lobby with dispensers for sought-after books and movies. The large, imposing desk where librarians once sat is replaced by a small information desk and librarians who offer assistance throughout the branch.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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