The Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland announced it will renovate its library using a $3 million gift made by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.

The gift allows WRHS to continue the physical and cultural transformation of its main campus and headquarters, the Cleveland History Center in University Circle, by renovating the library’s first floor public reading room and consolidating staff workspaces, according to a Jan. 13 news release.

“Mort Mandel would always say that WRHS is a hidden gem of the Cleveland community,” said Jehuda Reinharz, president and CEO of the Mandel Foundation, in the release. “He wanted to ensure the community knew about WRHS’s vast collections and that its employees had a workspace that is reflective of this high-quality organization. We are looking forward to seeing how the space will allow for staff collaboration and to further the organization’s mission.”

WRHS’s library was completed in 1983, and it spans 64,000 square feet and four stories. It holds an expansive collection of published materials and unpublished manuscripts, documenting, “every aspect of life in Cleveland and the region, including religion, politics, immigration, gender, ethnicity, transportation, business, labor, war, philanthropy, medicine, neighborhoods and entertainment,” the release said. As such, the library is known as a genealogical research center boasting a wide collection of family history research materials.

Conversations between the foundation and WRHS regarding renovations started two years ago, as the Cleveland-based Mandel Foundation has been a longtime supporter of WRHS. Over the years, the foundation awarded WRHS with a $500,000 gift to sponsor a permanent exhibit about Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, supported its Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel restoration project and became a key supporter of the Cleveland History Center campus master plan.

“We are incredibly thankful to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation for their ongoing support of the Western Reserve Historical Society,” WRHS Board Chair Peter Kelley said in the release. “This very generous grant allows us to transform our library public space and create a modern work environment for our employees that will foster increased flexibility and collaboration. When complete, our community will benefit from the modernization and flexibility of the renovated library public space as they conduct research using our vast collections.”

The renovations will modernize and increase the accessibility of staff offices that before the COVID-19 pandemic were located over about eight acres of the Cleveland History Center campus.

“Leadership support from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation has enabled WRHS to change its relationship with the communities it was established to serve 154 years ago,” Kelly Falcone-Hall, WRHS president and CEO, said in the release. “The transformation of the library, the beating heart of WRHS, represents our future while honoring our rich history. This project is especially relevant now in light of changes in the way WRHS works and responds to the changing needs and interests of our community.”

Construction is expected to begin in early 2021, so the library is closed to the general public. Research requests can be sent via email and in person, and appointments will be made by Ann Sindelar by emailing her at aks@wrhs.org.

For additional information regarding the renovation project, contact Falcone-Hall at kfalcone@wrhs.org

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