Art works available to borrow from the new Akron Art Library: (photos)

March 14, 2018 GMT

Art works available to borrow from the new Akron Art Library: (photos)

CLEVELAND, Ohio - - Summit County residents, how would you like to brighten your walls with an original painting, lithograph or some other art media without making a financial commitment? All you need is a library card.

Working as a team, the Akron-Summit County Public Library and the Akron Art Museum recently launched the Akron Art Library. As with a book or video, patrons can select a piece of art, enjoy it at home for a while, and then bring it back. It’s all about making art accessible to everyday people. The public can view and reserve the artworks on the library’s website at akronlibrary.org, or via mobile app.


“This is something that other museums have done in the past,” says Alison Caplan, director of education at the Akron Art Museum. Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, from where Caplan graduated, has a similar program, under which students, faculty and staff can rent art for a minimal fee.

“That program really impacted me,” said Caplan. “I thought it was a great idea.”

Twenty-seven pieces ranging from illustrations to photography to etchings created by local, regional and international artists fill the collection. Works are on loan only from the Main Library, 60 South High Street, on the second floor.

The art is available for four-week check out periods, with five renewals if the work has not been reserved by another library patron.

All 27 of the works were scooped up right away. One of the first in line was Brenda Schneider of Tallmadge. She is enjoying Limoges Market, a linoleum block print by Akron printmaker Joan Colbert.

“I have it in my dining room, and it’s kind of cool because I’m having people over for dinner in about a week or so,” said Schneider, 60, a self-described local arts supporter. “I was familiar with Joan’s work. I have a small print, so it will be nice to have this larger one, at least for a while. I also have about a dozen small works by other local artists.”

An unusual portrait named “Birds of the World” by Bruce Anthony caught Ann E. VerWiebe’s eye.

“I had seen his work at the art museum and I admired it,” said VerWiebe, 56, who lives in Akron. “It was exciting to be able to have art by somebody I like in my own space. My friends can enjoy it, too. There’s a personal connection when it’s in your own home. Also, it’s nice to be able to have pieces that you normally couldn’t afford, enjoy it for a while, and then other people get to enjoy it.”


Many pieces are Summit County-related, either the artist or content of the work. Mark Mothersbaugh of the band Devo is represented in the collection with Ashtabula Perambulator, 2007, one in a series of manipulated antique photographs.

On Rita Dove as Mother Love, Poet Laureate/Essayist Rita Dove, who was born in Canton and grew up in Akron, is depicted on a screen print by John Sokol. The print is signed by Dove.

Angelo Merendino,44, of Akron, is represented with a photograph of his now-deceased parents, Sam and Vilma, waving goodbye at him from the front porch of the couple’s home. Merendino took a series of photographs the last few years of his parents’ lives before they died in 2014.

“Akron is my hometown, and it’s wonderful to be included in this new program, especially with a piece that honors my parents,” he said. “I think this program is wonderful. There are a lot of talented artists in Akron, Cleveland and all around here, and I think it’s great that the library and museum came together with the hope of shining light on the people who are creating here.”

Some artists, such as Micah Krauss, 41, previously were affiliated with the art museum. An art instructor at Archbishop Hoban High School for 17 years, Krauss specializes in photography, and he’s a frequent art museum visitor with his students.

“There are layers of benefits to this program,” he said. “Number one, local artists are having their artwork purchased by the museum, so they are being supported. Second, it makes the art available to anyone who has a library card. The public is able to experience it in their own homes.”

Library patrons take the art home in padded boxes with handles, ith handles on them that makes it easy to carry home,” said Caplan. The box includes information about the artist, and how to contact the artist.

Accidents happen, of course. Depending on the severity of the damage, fines for damaged artwork can go up to $500, which is the replacement cost of each work. But the fine would be much less if the artwork can be repaired.

Said Caplan, “Instructions for how to care for and hang the art also is included.”

Akron Art Library was made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, GAR Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, and The Lehner Family Foundation, with additional support from members of the philanthropic community.

Money is being raised with the hopes adding 10 more works next year, Caplan said.