April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 24

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Can Parks Leverage Libraries?
How park and recreation agencies can enhance
services by working smarter with libraries
By Noah Lenstra, Ph.D., MLIS, and Teresa L. Penbrooke, Ph.D., CPRE

P

"

arks and libraries and learning: There are so many overlaps
and compatibilities. ...When we work together, we get a
greater good. " - James (Jim) E. Ziemnik, director of Lorain
County (Ohio) Metro Parks

When
Anastasia
DiamondOrtiz, CEO and director of the Lorain
Public Library, came to the county in
2016, one of the first things she did
was meet with Metro Parks Assistant
Director Jennifer Bracken. The two
talked about active transportation.
" We just had a great conversation trying to figure out how we
could support that in the community, " remembers Diamond-Ortiz.
" Several years ago, I got to know
Anastasia very well on a streetscape project. We've done a variety
of projects together, " Ziemnik recalls. " Our staff had formed relationships years ago that focused on
getting families and children to the

PHOTO COURTESY OF LORAIN COUNTY METRO PARKS

Finding Common Ground

The Little Library on the Lake houses
various games and sports equipment, all
of which are available to be checked out
using a library card.

24	 Parks & Recreation

beach, to the parks, for story time. "
Over the years, navigating this
partnership has not always been
smooth sailing.
" I think there are some people
who will question it from a purist
point of view. Why do you work
with the library if you're a parks
person? " says Ziemnik. " I think
that is just a parochial point of
view. People don't see those compounding benefits; when we work
together, we get a greater good. "
" For us, it was just a matter of
trying to talk to the board and to the
community, and to our staff, so that
everyone understands that this is really a shared cost, " says DiamondOrtiz.

Lorain County Metro Parks and
the library found common ground
centered around the promotion of
health and wellness. Both had preexisting relationships with the local
health department, which served as
a third key partner, providing crucial financial assistance and logistical advice.
" Our worlds came together
[through] the conduit of the health
district, with which we both have
very strong relationships, " says
Ziemnik. " We are three organizations, and through a compound-

| A P R I L 2 02 1 | PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N .O R G

ing of talents and reach, we get so
many more benefits. "
Early and open conversations built
a climate of trust and transparency, which eventually led to the Go
Lorain Bike Share (tinyurl.com/
7b18k8ni), a collaboration with Lorain County Public Health, Lorain
County Metro Parks and the Lorain
County Community Action Agency.
As the partnership expanded, it
evolved into the Little Library on
the Lake, which is modeled on the
Cleveland Public Library's Book
Box, which sits on the beach at
Edgewater Park as part of a partnership between that library and Cleveland Metroparks. It houses various
games and sports equipment, such
as bocce ball, horseshoes, soccer
balls, tennis rackets, badminton sets,
bird-watching kits, and bikes, helmets and bike locks. All items are
available to be checked out using a
library card. Visitors also can take
advantage of the Little Library's
free Wi-Fi, which covers the entire
beach. During Summer 2020, the
library had nearly 1,000 checkouts.

Collaborating Through
a Pandemic
When the coronavirus (COVID-19)
pandemic hit, the partners did not
initially know if they'd be able to
continue the Little Library on the
Lake project. The project's success in the middle of a pandemic
reflects the commitment of staff in
both organizations.
" I've seen passion from everyone


http://www.tinyurl.com/7b18k8ni http://www.tinyurl.com/7b18k8ni

April 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of April 2021 - Parks & Recreation

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April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com