Cindy Cawley has spent much of her life working around books, first in her college bookstore and then at the now-defunct Borders books and music chain.

She said she discovered a love for reading as a child after finding her mother's Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books.

For the past 23 years, Cawley has been a familiar face in the Columbus Metropolitan Library at its Northside, Whetstone and Karl Road branches. Now she is building new connections as manager of the Southeast branch at 3980 S. Hamilton Road in Groveport.

The previous Southeast branch manager, Sandee Wagle, was hired as the library system's security manager earlier this year.

"I had not thought about library work until somebody had suggested it (while at Borders)," said Cawley, who began her new role Nov. 18. "Somebody there knew of an opening. It was kind of a natural (segue) for me to go from bookstore to library work."

Cawley was hired as circulation manager of the Karl Road branch in 1995 and worked eight years in that position before transitioning to the Whetstone branch for 14 years and then to the new Northside building on High Street in 2017.

In 2009, CML announced its 2020 Vision Plan to "address and prioritize the needs of its aging locations and the evolving community demands upon them."

Phase 1 included renovating or rebuilding 10 libraries, including the Main Library in downtown Columbus. The new Martin Luther King branch is scheduled to open later this year, and the new Dublin branch is scheduled to open in 2019.

Although Cawley grew up in the small northeast Ohio college town of Oberlin, she described coming to Groveport as somewhat of a homecoming.

"Most of my background is in a location that's set in a community where folks are walking to the branch and family is a strong emphasis," she said.

"When I went to the north side, that was my first urban location. It was a different community that we were serving. It was exciting. OSU students found that location because of its expanded size."

Cawley is embracing her new role with an effort to meet the customers and the community the library serves.

In the digital age, libraries continue to evolve as technology advances into every aspect of life. The Pew Research Center found that library patrons increasingly think of libraries as common spaces that provide access to technology. Research also shows that printed books still dominate reading habits, even with the growth of computer tablets and e-books.

"We keep looking at how we evolve with customer needs and providing access to how customers prefer to receive their material is important," Cawley said. "Obviously, there is a huge focus on young minds in the library and helping kids prepare for the future."

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