Andrew Venable, Jr., a native of Staunton, Virginia, was the first African American director of the Cleveland Public Library in Cleveland, Ohio. He was born on November 11, 1944 to Andrew and Catherine Venable. Andrew Venable, Jr. was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School (now Booker T. Washington Community Center) in Staunton, Virginia; a graduate of Virginia State University (formerly Virginia State College) in Petersburg, Virginia; and a graduate of the Case Western Reserve University School of Library Science (Note: In 1981 the library school's name was changed to the Matthew A. Baxter School of Information and Library Science; the library science program was in operation from 1903 until 1986).
Mr. Venable began his library career at the Cleveland Public Library in Cleveland, Ohio in 1970. He remained there for 13 years. In 1983, Mr. Venable left the Cleveland Public Library to become the director of the East Cleveland Public Library. He served there for five years. After leaving the East Cleveland Public Library, Mr. Venable served as the director of the Gary Public Library in Gary, Indiana from 1988 until 1992. After his tenure at the Gary Public Library, Mr. Venable became library director at the Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest Region (the college is also known as Ivy Tech). He served there from 1992 until 1993.
In 1993, Mr. Venable left Indiana and headed east to Washington, D.C. where he held the position of Deputy Director at the D.C. Public Library. Four years later, Mr. Venable returned to the place where he began his library career -- The Cleveland Public Library. He served as deputy director (1997-1999) and then director (1999-2008). He retired in 2008.
Andrew Venable, Jr. passed away on May 5, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Highlights of Andrew Venable Jr.'s Career:
First African American director of the Cleveland Public Library
Named Librarian of the Year by the Ohio Library Council in 2001
Instrumental in the creation of the Greater Access Library Card
Awarded the Key to the City of Cleveland in 2008
Credited with describing public libraries as "The Peoples' University"
Awarded an honorary doctorate from Cleveland State University in 2007
A member of the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha
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