Public Library Partners with WRHS to Offer a Free Lunchtime Discussion in October

By Dr. Tonya Briggs, Guest Contributor

Martin Luther King, Jr. Anchor Branch Manager

Cleveland Public Library


Branch libraries are constantly adapting to support community learning and development.  On Monday, October 18, 2021, Cleveland Public Library’s Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) branch will partner with the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) and Dr. Regennia N. Williams to present a free lunchtime program on There’s Something About Edgefield:  Shining a Light on the Black Community through History, Genealogy & Genetic DNA. Edna Gail Bush and Natonne Elaine Kemp are the book’s co-authors.  

The program will take place at the MLK branch, which is located at 1962 Stokes Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.  The first 10 people to register will receive a free copy of the book or a book bag. For registration information, please click HERE


This program, the only community-based discussion in the WRHS “By the Book” series, is designed to increase the MLK library staff and patrons’ level of awareness about the services and experiences offered within the University Circle community. Overall, the MLK branch library focuses on programs that lead to personal and community transformation. 


For example, I had the privilege of receiving a behind the scenes tour of WRHS’s African American Archives because my mother was a member of the African American Genealogical Society of Cleveland.  The tour increased my knowledge of and appreciation for the city of Cleveland and its African American communities’ historical contributions.


When the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) offered free book kits to libraries that would promote health literacy, a program focusing on There’s Something About Edgefield seemed to be a good way to share my mother’s and grandparents’ genealogical research with library users while introducing them to an interesting book about family history, local history, and a community in South Carolina.  


Learning about the achievements, challenges, and sacrifices of my ancestors increased my appreciation for how their choices impacted the opportunities that I have today. Thanks to an ancestor who donated land to a college so that his children could be educated for free, I am a fourth generation college graduate.  Until I taught college English, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to be able to turn to my grandfather for guidance during my four years of college at Syracuse University. 


I feel fortunate to partner with Dr. Williams and WRHS to present our book talk on October 18, 2021, during Health Literacy Month.  Just as my grandfather’s experience with college provided a successful path to graduation, Dr. Williams’ experience with WRHS’s African American Archives and her family and local history research will help University Circle community members appreciate and begin the path towards learning about the importance of family health and community history in transforming their lives for the better.  


About the Author:

Dr. Tonya Briggs is a native Clevelander and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Anchor Branch Manager. Cleveland Public Library’s Martin Luther King, Jr. branch was established on April 16, 1970. The branch library’s collection and programs focus on social justice and reflects its diverse community. Librarianship is Dr. Briggs’s third career involving books and helping people transform their lives through easy access to information.  She has worked in book publishing in New York City, as a college English, Literature and Rhetoric instructor, and as an academic library dean.