Geauga County – At its April 20, 2021 meeting, the Geauga County Public Library Board of Trustees announced that its Director, Ed Worso, will step down later this year. GCPL’s Board further announced they would hire a search firm to help find its next Director.
Following the Board Meeting, Worso sent the following letter about his departure to all GCPL staff members:
“I am stepping down as the Director of Geauga County Public Library. As was announced at its April 20, 2021 meeting, the Geauga County Public Library Board of Trustees will conduct a search for the next Director.
During my initial interview to become GCPL’s Director, a Trustee asked me how long I planned to stay if I were hired. I said, ‘Ten years.’ In August, I will have served for six. My plan hasn’t changed, but the situation has.
From the beginning of my tenure, the Board of Trustees charged me, as Director, with certain goals, and achieving them required change. Change is necessary and happens whether we like it or not. Change is difficult, but it is almost always best to try to shape the change we want than to be shaped by the change we don’t.
During the first twelve months of staff meetings and roundtables, I often heard the words, ‘This is the way we’ve always done things.’ Challenging this notion is downright difficult because it involves changing culture, and as quoted by Atul Gawande in Being Mortal:
‘Culture is the sum total of shared habits and expectations. Culture has tremendous inertia. That’s why it’s culture. It works because it lasts.’
There were times when these proposed changes were met with resistance from the staff, community, and local officials. I started by suggesting to everyone that things could be done differently. Trying to do something differently doesn’t mean the way you always did them was wrong or bad. Exploring new ways of doing things just opens up new possibilities.
The changes we made to achieve our goals were always approved by the Board of Trustees. In most cases, the Board voted unanimously. The decision to run a bond issue was unanimous. The decision to join CLEVNET was unanimous. The decision to open Sundays year-round was unanimous.
We made the changes we said we would. We upgraded technology. We passed a county-wide bond issue. We built two new facilities and renovated the others.
All this work paid off. Last year, Library Journal name GCPL a Four-Star Library, recognizing us as one of the best libraries in the nation.
Nonetheless, change comes with resistance, and resistance can build up over time. At some point, you have to make a judgment if the cost from resistance is too high. In this case, that judgment was the Board’s to make.
In stepping down, I am—as always—doing what the GCPL Board thinks is in the best interest of the library. The Board and I agree that this is the proper course of action.
I would like to thank those who have believed in, embraced, and worked hard to help us achieve all that we have accomplished during the past five years. I am proud to have led a staff that has accomplished so much in such a short time.