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I recently attended the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, which featured a symposium on the future of libraries.

When I first began my career in libraries in 1995, their future seemed to hinge on technology. The internet was still a bit new, smartphones were unheard of and we believed electronic resources would change the way people used the library. Multiple sources predicted the demise of the printed book. Twenty-plus years later, we provide a blend of the new (e-books, 3-D printers and mobile hotspots) with the traditional (paper books are still very much in demand).

So what is predicted for the future of libraries? That depends on you.

What we've seen, especially in the last few years, are libraries taking a more responsive and proactive role in their communities. This looks different depending on where you live and what your community faces. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, for example, libraries provided storytimes at Red Cross shelters so children could have a sense of normalcy while their parents talked to aid workers. Other communities, from large cities to small towns, are helping residents solve problems seemingly unrelated to libraries. From addressing drug addiction and crime to creating public art and greenspace, libraries are stepping up as community sounding boards and problem solvers.

This makes perfect sense. Your public library— Worthington Libraries— is a place where people from all walks of life, no matter their personal, religious or political beliefs, can gather and feel welcome. It's a place where you can work quietly, check out a favorite movie or have a discussion with your neighbors. We're here to provide you with a positive experience and to promote positive change in our community.

If you have an idea or community issue you'd like us to help with, from finding information to getting in touch with the right people, please let me know. You can reach me at cgibson@worthingtonlibraries.org.

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Chuck Gibson

I have served as director / chief executive officer of Worthington Libraries since August 2010. My hobbies include photography, travel, computers and gadgets, reading and cars. Learn more about me!

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