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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

LAKEWOOD'S CHAIR MAN OF THE FLOORED

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 1:56 PM

For over a year, Steve Jambrozy has been trying to get someone's attention, but his topic is about as unsexy as it gets: library chairs.

The Lakewood resident has complained about the "very quick, small wheels on ultra-light chairs" in the main Technology Center of Lakewood Public Library's main branch to an array of Lakewood officials, including former library director Ken Warren, Councilman Mike Summers, and Lakewood School Board member Linda Beebe (the school board is the fiscal sponsor for the libraries), just to name a few.

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The chairs in question are Herman Miller stacking Caper chairs, which were originally shipped with U5 soft wheel casters that, according to the manufacturer, are suitable for both carpeted surfaces and hard floors. They retail for approximately $150 each.

There is no question that the casters glide very quickly across a hard floor. Jambrozy says he has documentation for 48 falls courtesy of the chairs occurring between June 2008 and September 2009. Apparently, the chairs can easily roll out of (ahem) target range, as if an invisible prankster is pulling the chair out from under someone who is about to sit down.

Jambrozy has fielded replies indicating there have not been sufficient occurrences or injuries to warrant action. He was told that patrons need to be able to seat themselves. Jambrozy persisted nonetheless, taking particular exception to a November 27 Plain Dealer article wherein Grant Segall notes Lakewood Public Library's four-star rating with the Library Journal.

When I tried to verify any of Jambrozy's claims with current library director James Crawford, however, things got cagey. Crawford politely took my calls, but would not discuss the Herman Miller chairs or any associated complaints. So I put my questions in writing and e-mailed them to him. After a few days with no response, I placed a follow up call.

Crawford said that he did not intend to answer any of my specific questions about the chairs either on the phone or in writing, but that library staff had tested new braking casters on two of the chairs and was satisfied with the results. Citing patron safety as a top priority, Crawford said the library intends to upgrade all the Herman Miller chairs and hopes the manufacturer will furnish the new braking casters.

There is a cliché close to the surface of this, but considering that Jambrozy, a 1981 Lakewood High School grad, once ran through the LHS cafeteria wearing only a monster mask, jock strap and Stroh's badge, I think he deserves a little more street cred than you can pile onto a lone squeaky wheel. — Erin O'Brien

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