STOW — As he prepares to step away from a three-decade career, Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library’s outgoing director said he believes he’s leaving the organization in good shape.

"We’re fiscally healthy, and we run a very well-organized agency with money in the bank for emergencies," said Douglas H. Dotterer, who noted his last day as the library’s director is March 6. "The community values and uses the library from cradle to grave, and we can see we’re making a difference. I hope I leave the organization a little better than I found it."

The public is invited to a retirement reception Feb. 28 from 5 to 6 p.m. in the library’s conference room to honor and thank Dotterer for his service. 

Before being hired as Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library Director in March of 2004, Dotterer worked at Westlake Porter Public Library and Cuyahoga County Public Library.

At the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library, Dotterer served as head of reference services for six years. He led the effort on two successful library operating issues in 2005 and 2010, and oversaw the two building interior renovation projects in 2013 and 2014. Dotterer is the second-longest serving director in the library’s history.

During his time as executive director, he oversaw the purchase of two library outreach vehicles and wrote three large non-matching library grants, including a $106,661 Knight Foundation Challenge Grant for computers, printers and equipment in 2010-11.

"It has been an honor and privilege to have served this wonderful organization for so many years," Dotterer said. "My passion has been to make a difference in people’s lives by offering cutting-edge technology, a rich diversity of programming and a wide variety of library department services."

Dotterer, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said he started out attending law school. He liked law because of the research part and realized he could help people do research at libraries. 

"This was a career I could get into and find a lot of satisfaction and help people with research needs," he said. "It was a good fit."

Libraries are the most dependable organization the community can turn to for help with research, questions or needs, Dotterer said. Ohio has some of the best public libraries in the country and are well supported by the community.

"Libraries evolve with the time, which is one of their strengths," he said. "We can help people in so many ways. Reading is our core mission and we help people with their reading needs, but it has evolved."

People may be reading print books, ebooks or listening to books, and the library keeps up with the different technology, Dotterer said. The library has moved beyond records, VHS tapes, DVDs and into streaming as well as many online services. Different forms of technology are researched and added if they benefit the community.

"Our community can access our library 24/7," he said. "It’s not just a brick and mortar institute any more. It can come alive any time they need it. I’m proud of how our organization has evolved and maintained the state-of-the-art technology for our community. It’s an amazing thing to see, and it takes a lot of work but we keep our library changing with the times."

The library is a U.S. Passport Acceptance Facility, offers notary services and recently began lending out WI-FI hotspots so customers can connect to the Internet, he said. 

"We want technology to be available to everyone and not just a few," Dotterer said. "We also encourage customers to come in and attend our programs. The library is a gathering place for the community. It’s the place to be. Meet a friend, read a book and spend time here."

The library had 16,053 cardholders who used the library in 2019 and 237,741 visitors. The Board of Trustees has purchased land to expand the parking lot in the future, he said. 

In retirement, Dotterer said he’ll catch up on reading non-fiction, biography and history books. He’ll spend time with his wife, Julie, a vegan chef, and travel, hike and ski for a couple of years before returning to Stow to volunteer in the community. 

"I’ll miss the staff and the public. I’ve had a successful career and look forward to turning this page in my life," Dotterer said. "It should be exciting."

The Stow-Munroe Falls LIbrary Board of Trustees will be conducting a search for the next executive director. 

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com