Top 40 Business in Ohio!

Posted on Wednesday 5 March 2014

The library has just been informed that we have been named as one of the 2014 Best Employers in Ohio. The annual list of the Best Employers in Ohio was created by the Ohio SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) State Council and Best Companies Group. The list consists of the top 40 businesses in Ohio. Congratulations to the Library Board and the greatest group of employees in OHIO!!

Executive Director @ 12:45 pm
Filed under: General Topics

Posted on Thursday 16 January 2014

As I mentioned, or bragged about, in our last Between the Pages issue, our library was once again rated as one of America’s finest libraries receiving the coveted Five Star Rating.  I would like to take a few moments to highlight some of our achievements in 2013 that helped us to achieve Library Journal’s highest rating.  The library once again experienced record use this year, circulation over 2.3 million items, making Westerville the fourth busiest library facility in Ohio.   Our customers once again showed up in record numbers to attend one of the 600 programs offered at the library.  Programs were highlighted by two successful author visits.  Over 1,500 people attended one of the two programs provide by author Rick Steves and nearly 400 enthusiastic people joined author Geraldine Brooks or an evenings discussion.

The successful author visits will continue in 2014, with author Lee Child visiting in Saturday, February 22nd at Westerville Central High School.  Tickets are limited, so reserve your seat today.  Last year, we also completed much needed renovations in the Youth, Teen and Adult areas of the library.  The areas provide better comfort, more customer interaction in the community oriented Children’s Department has yielded many positive comments by our customers.  On time and on budget yielded a very positive comment by me.  2014 will also present some exciting changes as well.

This February, the library will roll out a new web site in development for over a year.  The new site will bring the experience to our library and to you our customer.  We are very excited about the new site and hope you will be as well.  Also in February, we will install four new Self-Checkout machines.  These machines are easier to use and will also bring the amazon experience to our users.  As you check out, you will see materials of similar interest to those you are checking out and you can simply reserve the item as you check out.  I thank you for another wonderful year at the Westerville Public Library and for a very promising 2014. Your continued support is deeply appreciated.

Executive Director @ 1:37 pm
Filed under: General Topics
Barlow Celebrates 25 Years at Westerville Library Helm

Posted on Tuesday 17 September 2013

ThisWeek Community News
Friday August 23, 2013 8:05 AM

When Executive Director Don Barlow came to the Westerville Public Library in 1988, the library was one third the size it is now. So was its circulation and number of cardholders.

Barlow celebrated his 25th anniversary of leading the Westerville library Aug. 15.

The staff took him to lunch, likely to Skyline Chili for a chili dog, he joked, and a case of Diet Coke from the library board of trustees sat as a present on his desk.

In addition to overseeing the library’s growth — the library building at 126 S. State St. now is 100,000 square feet, circulates nearly 2.3 million pieces of material annually and has 106,000 cardholders — Barlow also had to see the library through the dramatic changes in technology that have taken place in the last 25 years.

In 1994, the library became the first in the country to offer self-checkout machines, which it still uses today.

“We had them before Kroger,” Barlow said.

In 1995, the library went live with its webpage and served as the Internet service provider to much of the community, including the city, school district and chamber of commerce.

Then in 1997, the library pioneered what it dubbed the “Library Channel.” Librarians sifted through webpages, determining and listing what was credible. The channel was used by more than 300 libraries nationwide, but sadly, Barlow said, the innovative program eventually became obsolete.

“It was cutting edge; then Google got better,” Barlow said, with a laugh.

The library’s technology initiatives have continued, with the library participating in programs such as OhioLINK, which provides access to research and databases from colleges and institutions around the state.

The library also offers extensive web tools within its building and via its website.

Barlow said he only sees technology expanding with the library, and he said his eyes are set next on providing content for mobile devices, such as allowing magazine articles to be able to be downloaded directly to tablets.

Technology, Barlow said, is all about providing library patrons with convenience.

“Certainly, today, convenience is important,” Barlow said. “People don’t use Google because it’s accurate; they use it because it’s convenient.”

Convenience comes in simpler forms, too, Barlow said, such as the library’s drive-through pick-up window, something he said is an unusual feature for a library.

“We’re still one of the few libraries with a drive-through. We go to a conference, and librarians say no library should be without a drive-through,” Barlow said.

Since Barlow joined the library, he said the library has focused hard on bringing to the community materials and programs that people want to see and use.

“The emphasis was always on having a great collection, even if you had a lot that people didn’t use,” Barlow said. “Our emphasis is to put on the shelf what the customers want.”

When Barlow began, a large part of the focus was on expanding the library facility, which was clearly too small for the community.

The expansion took nearly 10 years to bring about, Barlow said, by the time the library made plans and secured funds. However, he said he lists the expansion as one of the accomplishments he’s most proud of during his tenure.

The library space remains adequate, Barlow said, though now the focus has turned to finding more parking for patrons.

“I think we’re where we need to be,” Barlow said. “We need more parking. That’s sort of our biggest issue.”

Another point of pride for Barlow is the way the library gets out into the community, delivering materials to all of Westerville’s schools and providing programs for people of all ages in the community.

“It’s taking our library out into the community rather than waiting for people to come” to us, Barlow said.

Under Barlow’s leadership, the library also has earned accolades as one of the best in the country, for the last 10 years being named in the top 10 libraries of its size in the United States.

Barlow modestly credits the library’s success to a well-read and supportive community.

“It’s a high reading community,” Barlow said. “I am constantly surprised at how many people use the library.”

Barlow came to Westerville after serving as executive director of the Alexandria Public Library in Mt. Vernon, Ind.

A native of northern Kentucky and a University of Kentucky alumnus, Barlow said he was looking to locate closer to home and knew the Columbus area well because he had visited friends here.

A few years ago, he interviewed for the director post of the Lexington Public Library system. He cited ties to his home state in investigating the change.

Now, Barlow said, he can’t imagine being anywhere else.

“I’d love to be here another 25 years,” Barlow said. “I don’t have any plans on leaving.”

Executive Director @ 1:37 pm
Filed under: General Topics
25 Years and Counting!

Posted on Thursday 15 August 2013

It is hard to believe, but today I celebrate my 25th year of service as the Director of the Westerville Public Library.  Together we have seen many changes.  The facility has tripled in size, circulation has gone from 773,000 in 1988 to 2,279,000 in 2012.  Just 25 years ago the library had 36,768 registered, today we have over 105,000 card holders.

Believe it or not, when I arrived in August 1988, I purchased the first personal computer for the library, replacing an IBM Selectric typewriter. Two years later, I learned how to type.  Today, the library has over 220 computers, wireless access to the internet and most library services are available on your iPhone, Samsung, iPad or other mobile device.

Today as I reflect on the past, something we seldom do at the Westerville Public Library, I am amazed at the many innovations you helped implement over the years.  In 1992, we became the first Ohio library to provide self-checkout service.  The units looked more like a machine developed for a science experiment, compared to the Express Checkout units we use today.  Two years later we became the first Ohio library to provide internet access to the public.  Twenty years later we continue to seek new opportunities to enhance your library experience through convenience and mobility.  That’s just who we are!

This is our 15th year of providing service through our Drive-up window, certainly a service that is heavily used by our community.  I am still amazed that every public library does not have such a service. But they will some day. In 1988, the library provided access to its collection, which was around 180,000 items.  Today through, OhioLink and SearchOhio our customers have access to nearly 70 million items, with direct daily delivery to each school within our school district boundaries.  Our goal is the collections of every library in Ohio will be accessible to every citizen of Ohio. A goal we will someday meet as well.

I am often asked about the Westerville Public Library’s vision and how we are able to accomplish so much.  To me our vision is simple. provide our community and our customers what they want.  So as I sit back and celebrate my 25 years in Westerville, I do so by thanking our customers, our community leaders, our School Board, Chamber of Commerce Board and its members, City Council and our city employees, Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, our Westerville Civic Symphony and our State Legislators.  It is in no small measure, your vision that has guided us these many years.  I am deeply grateful and honored to work with all of you.

I also want to express my deepest gratitude to the many citizens that have served on the Library Board of Trustees.   Your support and guidance have meant the world to me these past 25 years.  Our library and community has been truly blessed to have so many caring and dedicated men and women serve the library.  Lastly, to our wonderful staff, both past and present, your energies, dedication and absolute commitment to the library and our community is unsurpassed.  It has been my privilege and honor to work with each and everyone of you over the past quarter of a century.

Finally, so you don’t think I am leaving, which I am not, I will end my reminiscing by just saying THANK YOU Westerville and Ohio Libraries for a great, great 25 years.



Executive Director @ 2:30 pm
Filed under: General Topics
Looking Back at a Record Year

Posted on Wednesday 20 February 2013

For more than 80 years our mission has been to provide the best services possible. I hope you feel we were successful in doing so in 2012. Thanks to our community’s support, the library was able to reopen on Sundays, purchase many more materials, invest more heavily in electronic books and magazines, and offer more programs than ever before. Our community responded in record numbers.

Last year the library circulated 2,269,798 items, an increase of 17.14%. Over 45,000 people attended programs of all kinds, representing an increase of 25.53%. And, our website had 1.9 million visitors. Thank you for your continued support of one of America’s finest

This year, a rejuvenated Youth and Teen area will welcome children. The Activity Center will be enlarged, a permanent Homework Help Center will be added and the Teen Center will receive touch-ups.

In Adult Services, the Technology Center will be renovated with new flooring and lower walls at the computer stations, to improve airflow. Two new Online Conference/Skype stations and a 3D print station will be installed in the department.

Throughout the year we will be replacing outdated HVAC systems with more efficient ones, beginning in early spring with the 1965 and 1979 units.

As we look forward to another outstanding year, we invite you to experience all that your library has to offer.

Executive Director @ 5:24 pm
Filed under: General Topics
Re-innovating Ourselves

Posted on Thursday 6 September 2012

The old adage “If you’re not moving forward; you’re moving backward” has never been truer than it is in today’s rapidly changing environment. To ensure the library’s continued movement forward, we have been conducting an extensive market analysis, examining who uses the library, how our patrons use the library, and the technology trends that affect future library services.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

We are excited about the progress of the study and want to extend our deepest appreciation to the nearly 4,000 residents and stakeholders who contributed to the success of this important study. Our customers and the citizens of Westerville gave their time, energies and talents to provide us a map to the future.

As the lyric of George Harrison states, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Thanks to the input of thousands of residents, we know the road we will be traveling and the destination. We look forward to sharing the results of the study and traveling the road to the future with you.

Executive Director @ 5:16 pm
Filed under: General Topics
Dream Big and Read This Summer

Posted on Thursday 21 June 2012

Summer reading kicked off May 30 and is in full gear. Thousands of children have enrolled in the Dream Big… Read! program. They will read thousands of hours this summer, earning the chance to decorate stars for our library “sky” and receive their choice of a book thanks to sponsorship by the Friends of the Library.

Summer Reading Program promotional image

Nearly 500 individuals have registered in the adult version of the program, along with hundreds of our faithful Outreach patrons. All will enjoy reading and chances to win rewards generously donated by many Westerville businesses.

We are deeply grateful to our teen volunteers who donate many hours of their summer vacation to help register children and administer the program. Their generous contribution of time and energy helps make this one of Ohio’s most active and successful summer reading programs.

Your library provides many wonderful programs throughout the year, but none are as important for lifelong learning as your public library’s summer reading program. This introduction to reading at such an early age helps dramatically with early childhood development, preparing children to be ready to learn as they enter school.

So, if you have not done so yet, please enroll your child and help us Dream Big…READ.

Executive Director @ 11:11 am
Filed under: Events andGeneral Topics
Your Library Is Moving Forward

Posted on Friday 6 April 2012

On March 4, the library celebrated our re-opening on Sundays. Over 1,000 people came to the library,  with large numbers attending a magic show complete with balloon animals, enjoying music in the atrium and picking up a magnet as a reminder of our new hours. We are excited about our ability to re-open on Sundays and thank you for your support of your library last November.

The library now has the capacity to solve several long overdue facility problems. A comprehensive roof study is underway to address our frequent roof leaks. In addition, we are evaluating the need and cost of replacing the two oldest HVAC systems. The original system was installed in 1955, and the 1981 unit was installed with our first expansion project. A more energy-efficient and cost-effective system will provide significant annual savings for the library.  Finally, we are planning a redesign of our Youth Department to provide a better and more engaging environment for early childhood literacy and development.

These projects and improvements are possible because of our great community support.  We are humbled by our past success and excited about our future.

Thank you, Westerville!

Executive Director @ 1:35 pm
Filed under: General Topics
Your Support Has Created a Promising 2012

Posted on Thursday 22 December 2011

For over 80 years, our mission has been to provide the best services possible to the citizens of the Westerville Public Library district. Your passage of the levy on November 8 allows us to continue that great tradition. We are extremely grateful to you and wish to extend our deepest thanks for your support as we look forward to finding new and innovative ways to serve our community.

Now we are rolling up our sleeves and working to deliver on our promises to you. We are interviewing prospective staff in preparation for reopening on Sundays beginning March 4. Our Sunday hours will be 1-6pm, year round. You can also look forward to many more materials to choose from as we have restored our book budget and increased it by nearly 40%.

As we enter the new year, we reflect on yet another busy year at the library. Once again, our circulation surpassed 2 million items; more than 1.8 million visitors came to our website; we served the library needs of 102,788 cardholders; over 35,000 people attended library programs and our Library Link program delivered nearly 20,000 requested items to students at Westerville schools.

Our library is once again rated one of America’s finest libraries, thanks to your support in 2011. We are humbled by our past success and are excited about our future.

Executive Director @ 5:25 pm
Filed under: General Topics
Thank you, Westerville!

Posted on Wednesday 9 November 2011

Everyone associated with the library wants to extend their most heartfelt appreciation to our community for yesterday’s election results. Everyday we strive to provide the very best services we can to an outstanding community. These election results reaffirm the community’s appreciation for what we do and the trust you have in us. For that we are truly grateful.

Your trust is something we take very seriously and is why we remain one of the most cost efficient libraries, not only in Ohio, but nationwide. We live in an excellent community, and the Westerville Public Library is just one of our community assets, along with our city government and our great schools. Westerville is indeed a remarkable place in which to live and work.

Make no mistake; Westerville’s standing is because you the dedicated citizen understands the importance of community and investing in our future. We deeply appreciate your continuing support and fully understand our responsibility to you the taxpayer.

For the past 80 years, our mission has been to provide the very best services in the most cost effective manner possible. Your vote today reaffirms our promise to uphold that great tradition. All of us are humbled by your support and pledge our continuing commitment to you.

Thank you so very much!!

Don W. Barlow

Executive Director

Executive Director @ 11:52 am
Filed under: General Topics
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