For the fourth year in a row, the Westerville Public Library has been recognized as an elite library in the country.

For the fourth year in a row, the Westerville Public Library has been recognized as an elite library in the country.

Each year, Library Journal rates public libraries across the country. A wide variety of metrics are taken into account, including circulation, visits, internet access and program attendance.

In 2016, more than 7,000 libraries were ranked and just over 150 nationwide were labeled as five-star libraries, the highest designation.

Westerville's library was among those five-star locations, one of just 25 in Ohio (the state with the second-most five-star libraries, behind only New York).

With a four-year streak running, Executive Director Don Barlow said the recognition is a compliment to Westerville as a whole, not just the library.

"I think it speaks very highly of our community, that they not only support, but use the library heavily," he said. "It certainly makes the library more of a community center than an average public library. Libraries are probably changing quicker than most industries right now, so it speaks a lot to our staff, too, who are really open and willing to change."

The ability to change and adapt has been crucial for the library.

The library recently adopted a chip-scanning system that has cut back on some of the monotonous tasks for employees, freeing librarians to help library visitors rather than check books back into the system, for example.

Barlow said the system is already saving 22 percent of staff time, making them more efficient in a variety of ways.

"It increases our cost efficiency, and I think the community appreciates that we're a good steward of dollars," he said.

Next up will be the addition of 3-D printers and a "maker space" with other technology that can be used by the community.

For Barlow, those kind of adaptations are more than empty talk.

"We all have these sort of flyover-ambition statements, but it's really all based on giving the customer what they want, giving the community what they want and doing it with great customer service," he said. "That's basically what we're trying to do."

And while Barlow and his staff aren't focused on awards or accolades, he said it's nice to be respected by peer libraries.

"It's recognition from an organization that really has nothing to gain from giving us that recognition," he said with a laugh. "So it really very verifies what we're doing and what we think we're trying to accomplish."