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Mangels is proud of the library’s staff commitment to providing quality service

Anyone who has visited the Westlake Porter Public Library knows it’s special.

You’ll find children in the juvenile section, adults looking at fiction and nonfiction books, patrons searching the extensive DVD and CD collections. There’ll be people on the computers. People there for special programs.

It’s not just the books and videos. It’s the service, the programs, the effort made for special-needs children.

Recently, Library Journal magazine named Porter a 2021 5-Star Library in libraries with a budget of $5 million to $9.9 million based on statistics gathered in 2019. The magazine lists just 10 libraries nationwide in each rating according to its budget.

“It’s because of the people in this community,” Director Andrew Mangels said. “They love their library and so they use it. And that’s why we’ve been successful.

“The community loves this staff. They do a great job,” he said.

The 5-star is no surprise to Westlake resident Vanessa Botson, who was visiting the library last week.

“I love this library,” Botson said. “Everything is so easy to find. There’s so many books, so many different genres.”

Library Journal bases its rating on a diverse set of categories: physical circulation, digital circulation, library visits, program attendance, computer usage, Wi-Fi sessions and E retrievals, all of which are per capita.

Library Journal assessed 5,608 libraries in nine categories based on budget size before designating 262 as star libraries.

The top library in Westlake’s category was Princeton (New Jersey) Public Library. Three other Ohio libraries finished ahead of Westlake in the same category: Washington Centerville Public Library, Upper Arlington Public Library and Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.

In all, the journal designated 27 libraries in Ohio as Star Libraries, second only to New York’s 33.

Since 2011, Westlake Porter Library has received 5-Star recognition three times and a 4-Star rating twice. Mangels said the library has placed an emphasis on special-needs patrons. Ten years ago the library formed an independent group called Connecting Kids, which provides insight on how special-needs patrons use the library and how they should be treated.

Precautions taken the past two years to deal with the pandemic yet still serve patrons continue to evolve. A popular cafe-style coffee shop will remain closed. On Friday, it was announced that all programs would be postponed or shown virtually until Jan. 17.

Since the library reopened, all patrons and staff have been required to wear masks.

“We’re trying to figure it out like everybody else and trying to strike a balance,” Mangels said. “It’s tough right now because we are requiring masks. Around town, I see other places that are requiring them, but they’re not enforcing it. And so I’m taking a lot of flak, a lot of flak, a lot of heat.”

Mangels said the atmosphere the staff provides makes people return

“Everybody is welcome here, everybody,” Mangels said. “I think that’s why we’re successful because people know it’s their library, and I feel like the staff downstairs on a daily basis reinforce that and make it a welcoming place for people to come back.”

Botson agrees.

“Everyone is so helpful,” Botson said. “If you can’t find it, they’ll find it for you.”

Contact this reporter at blove@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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