The new director of the Delaware County District Library introduced himself to county commissioners Monday.
“All I have to say is I really don’t have to ask you for anything today, except to stop by and use the library whenever possible,” said George Needham. “We’d be delighted to have you, and if we can be of any service in providing information services in order to make your decisions, we’d be happy to do so.”
Needham, who has been on the job for 10 weeks, praised former director Mary Jane Santos, who recently retired; as well as her predecessor, Patricia (Trish) Ebbatson.
“I’ve known Mary Jane for many years and admired what she was doing with this library system,” Needham said. “I feel like I fell in the honeypot. “
He described the four branches of the library — Main on 84 E. Winter St.; Orange on 7171 Gooding Boulevard; Ostrander at 75 N. Fourth St.; and Powell at 460 S. Liberty Road — as strong and in great shape.
“We have a terrific staff, good funding and a great collection,” he said. “I realized early I wasn’t hired to fix anything. This is a case of evolution and development, continuing to grow on the great foundation that’s been left.”
He also recognized libraries in Ashley, Sunbury and Westerville, which also serve Delaware County residents.
Needham said he’s been talking about the library with community groups since he started.
“I told the board when I was hired I was going to spend the first few months learning the ropes, getting to know the staff and community a little bit better.”
There are some challenges, he said.
“We need to keep improving technology in a personal way to make it as attractive as possible to students and business people. We have some facilities to address — the cafe at the Orange branch never took off, so we’re thinking about how to use that space in a better way. We’re always looking for ways to keep people involved in the library, trying to find ways to make the library a destination for people. I want every kid in Delaware County to feel like, this is my library.”
In addition, look for shorter waits on eBooks and more customer conveniences, such as the drive-through window at Orange. The library wants to expand its digital collection of local publications, he said, “because part of our job is to be the community memory.”
Commissioners praised the library system, and administrator Tim Hansley said, “We’ve used your facilities for meetings in Orange Township on some economic development projects, so we appreciate that partnership as well.”
When the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions World Library Congress comes to Columbus in August, the Orange branch will host some of the satellite meetings, Needham said.
“We’ll have guests from all around the world that will be visiting the library.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.