Cleveland READS: The Impact You Made

At this event, CPL librarians are signing up patrons for the Cleveland Reads challenge.

In 2023, Cleveland Public Library, in partnership with local nonprofit organizations, businesses, corporations, associations, media and government answered the call issued by Mayor Justin Bibb to host a city-wide reading campaign to build our city’s literacy levels. The original goal was for the entire city to collectively read one million books and/or one million minutes in 2023 and raise awareness on the importance of reading literacy & to nurture a love of reading.

Now, thanks to you, we are proud to share some of the results of this campaign which far surpassed our original goals:

Cleveland READS enabled the library to make progress toward our strategic priority to Close the Gaps, addressing inequalities facing our city. The benefits of a literate community are not limited to education and students, but affect social welfare, workforce development and even health care. As stated by Dr. David Margolius, Director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, “Cleveland Reads brought our residents together for a common cause and that’s good for the health of our community. Reading reduces stress, improves sleep, and has even been shown to extend life expectancy.”

Evidence of the impact Cleveland READS made was illustrated in surveys conducted with participants of Cleveland READS. Out of 419 completed surveys, the results were resoundingly positive. Of the percentage of patrons surveyed who either agreed or strongly agreed that they benefited from the service or program:

Library circulation from CMSD students increased 234%, up from 6,768 to 22,606 this past year!

Other noteworthy accomplishments achieved during the year included:

  • Engaging our neighborhoods by activating a group of 30 community ambassador volunteers to help promote the campaign and sign readers up
  • Launching a marketing and awareness campaign about the importance of reading,
  • Creating a compelling rewards and incentives program through donations of prizes and funds to motivate readers to achieve milestones, including the giveaways of 92,000 badges
  • Leveraging educational & literacy organizations to drive participation and provide tools and resources to support readers
  • Hosting three major events, two that were free and open to the public and a fundraiser where over 350 people came to the Main Library to help celebrate the success of this campaign and help to support its work

What’s Next

CPL is committed to building upon the success of Cleveland READS next year. We plan to refocus on increasing student achievement by connecting and engaging with educators and community partners. This will include working more closely with the schools and especially teachers in the primary grades to focus on early literacy.

Cleveland READS will also expand into digital literacy in 2024, working to build basic digital literacy skills for audiences of all ages. We are launching a new teen innovation and workforce development lab at our downtown Main Library campus that will support underserved youth to prepare them for a successful future. Programming will focus on STEM subjects, digital literacy and workforce development skill building.

We are also debuting a new senior digital literacy program for older audiences to learn new digital literacy skills so they can stay connected with friends and family, access online resources, and stay active and engaged in their community.

These investments in literacy will make a difference in strengthening our community. We look forward to sharing our continued progress with you as we look to the year ahead.