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Cleveland Library Celebrates 150th Anniversary

photo of Cyril Lancelin
French artist Cyril Lancelin has worked with LAND Studio in Cleveland on inflatable scultpures that will be part of the Cleveland Public Library's 150th birthday party Saturday.
photo of Glen Infante, Jordan Morales
Glen Infante (left) will be creating a mural ("Book Seat") during the actual festival, working with Jordan Morales. The duo has also collaborated on murals in Cleveland of Steve Jobs and Prince.

The Cleveland Public Library is celebrating its 150th birthday tomorrow with a daylong street fair. The event at the main branch in downtown Cleveland will include a parade, a Ferris wheel, and performance artists.

But CEO Felton Thomas said it’s not just a commemoration, but a way to show that the library has evolved with technology to meet the needs of the public.

“Kids will be able to go online, accessing and playing eSports games and those kinds of things. You’ll also see introductions of our digital public library. So a lot of the things that people don’t generally think that we do here around technology will be on display,” Thomas said.

He added there will be tours of the library’s special collections, including historic photos and maps of Cleveland, as well as the world’s largest collection of material on playing chess.

During the festival, artist Glen Infante will be creating a painting, “Book Seat.”

“I wanted to create a piece that represents youth and learning and something that we can all relate to,” he said.

The festival takes place in the Eastman Reading Garden, which will be decorated with inflatable sculptures by artist Cyril Lancelin. He said the use of circles is partly a tribute to the library’s longevity.

“It’s [like] renewal and a rebirth. For books, too: you finish a book and start reading it again,” he said.

Lancelin’s sculptures will remain in the garden through October.

Also appearing at the festival are New York Times bestselling author Eric Litwin (original author of “Pete the Cat”) and comedian Roy Wood, Jr.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.