Read the book: Newburgh Heights gets new Cleveland Public Library Grab & Go book locker

When Newburgh Heights village council president Gigi Traore first realized that having no library in the village was an issue for kids—and adults—in the neighborhood, she took it upon herself to make sure that everyone in the village has easy access to books from the Cleveland Public Library (CPL).

“When [Newburgh Heights resident] Annie Knight said, ‘hey I see kids walking all the way to Fleet [Avenue] to get books,” I knew we needed to get a library,” Traore recalls. “It’s a 30-minute walk. We don’t have a Cleveland Public Library here, but we’re part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District network.”

Grab & Go locker at Newburgh Heights Village HallTraore says the village has in the past partnered with the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank and Little Free Library, but the image of kids making the trip over to the Fleet Branch in Slavic Village was unacceptable to Traore, who was appointed to village council in 2018 and then elected in 2019.

On Friday, Dec. 3, CPL stepped in to make books, movies, and other library materials more accessible to everyone in Newburgh Heights with a Grab & Go Book Locker—a freestanding, fully automated CPL digital branch.

Located at Newburgh Heights Village Hall, 3801 Harvard Ave., the locker is open during business hours. Users just need their library cards to select and order materials for delivery.

“We’re really excited to have this Grab & Go locker at Newburgh Heights Village Hall,” says CPL director of library innovation Jean McFarren. “You can go online, pick what you want and have it delivered to [the locker]. You scan you library card, the door pops open, you take your stuff and leave. It couldn’t be easier.” Library patrons can also return their materials to the locker when they are finished with them.

The Village of Newburgh Heights and Cleveland Public Library celebrate the installation of Grab & Go Book Lockers.McFarren says the lockers are one part of the library’s Reimagine Project, in which branches are undergoing updates, renovations, and repairs. She says the next branch to receive a locker will be next spring at Tremont’s Jefferson Branch, which is currently under renovation.

McFarren adds that the lockers make all materials easily available—no mater which branch patrons choose.

“We want to extend our reach,” she says of the lockers and the larger project. “We’re trying to be accommodating as possible to folks who need to use the library—and these lockers are a different way to do it. It completely integrates our whole library system”

Present at the ribbon cutting were Traore and other council members, CPL executive director and CEO Felton Thomas, Jr., and Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.