Livingston County Library attempts to make the most of its direct connections to the community. The library board is made up of active, interested supporters. One member, for example, is the county’s superintendent of schools, another is a political candidate, and another is an optometrist. All seem to share a deep concern for the library and the services it offers, and their pride in the library is apparent.
The library’s use of technology seems to have had a positive impact on the community. The computer terminals are used frequently, and attendance at evening training classes is strong and increasing. Users are experimenting with the opportunities offered by the Internet. One user, a retired businessperson, has worked to create a homepage and related links for a family business, located out of state, that his sons have taken over. But it might be too early to tell precisely how much difference access to electronic resources through the library will make in Livingston County. Green Hills Telephone Corporation, for example, so far reports limited response by individual customers to its Internet services.
In some respects, it would appear that the library is a bit ahead of the community by providing a service that the residents do not fully understand and are not demanding for themselves. The library director is probably correct in noting that the presence of the Internet terminals in the library is creating a demand, not satisfying one. Nevertheless, the library is looking toward the future, and the library director–who spends much of her time talking to community groups and businesspeople–is paving the way for the information revolution to arrive in northern Missouri. “I don’t think I’ve made a lot of changes in Livingston County,” says Hicklin, “but other people seem to think I have.” It is safe to say that in Livingston County one can see the impact that a strong library director with vision can have on a library and a community. Chillicothe is poised and ready to enter the 21st century partly because the library has provided the necessary leadership to make sure that when the new communications millennium arrives, Livingston County will not be left behind.
Tony Wening, a representative of MOREnet, claims that the Livingston County Library is not unique–the statewide network is allowing small and remote libraries all over Missouri to offer Internet resources to their patrons. Even so, this library stands out because of its accomplishments in a small setting, the energy of its library director, and its leadership in the community. In Chillicothe, there is only one place to go if you need information. It is the public library.