Like the feeling of finding a good book hidden in library shelves, the Cuyahoga County Public Library got lucky with executive director Sari Feldman.

She took one of the busiest library systems in the country to the next level in her 16 years of work there.

As of Friday, she's officially retired.

WKYC's Maureen Kyle sat down with Feldman to reflect on how one of the top-rated library systems in the country has evolved during her tenure.

Feldman explained that for her, libraries are about so much more than just books.

"There are few places where you meet your neighbors, where you meet people that are different than you, where you share an experience."

Feldman has been fostering that idea as the executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library since May of 2003.

It's her dream come true -- even if her father didn't see it that way at first.

"My father, who really encouraged me and my sister to be whatever we wanted, he cried and he begged me to consider another profession," she said laughing.

"I'm very glad that my father saw some of my achievements." 

Feldman credits her move to Ohio with propelling her to the next level in her career.

"I was living in Syracuse, New York, and I did some research, and I realized Ohio has the best libraries in the United States. That comes up again and again in surveys. So I deliberately set out to move to Ohio, and how lucky am I to have landed in Cuyahoga County, which in my opinion is the best library system in the world."

Her role as executive director ended up taking her around the world, all while developing a $110 million capital improvement program here that included 10 building renovations and 10 replacements

Feldman also ushered in a new era of technology, launching internet hotspot programs for high schoolers in partnership with Google, and made Cuyahoga County's library system the first one ever to use text messaging with customers.

"We've come a long way from the Dewey Decimal System," she joked.

Now, as she closes this chapter of her life, Feldman says the pages that wrote her Cleveland career will always be bookmarked for trips down memory lane.

"The people of Cuyahoga County are involved with Cuyahoga County Public Library. They helped us to re-imagine our buildings, our services, and the way we can serve our community. So thank you for the best 16 years of my professional life."

Though Feldman technically retired Friday, she will continue writing a column in Publisher's Weekly, develop free digital content for libraries through the American Library Association, and travel to Sharjah on the Arabian Gulf to help develop their library system.

She says she's also looking forward to spending more time with family.