The new director of Lawrence's public library wants to steer the library onto the Infobahn.
Bruce Flanders says he wants the Lawrence Public Library to be a transportation source local residents can use to travel the information superhighway.
"I'd really like for the Lawrence Public Library to shift away from the stereotypical view of a library as a book warehouse," Flanders told the Lawrence City Commission Tuesday night.
Flanders, who became the library's new director on Jan. 3, said he wants to work with local officials to help the library become a lively, essential hub of multiple information sources for the community.
Flanders, who was previously director of technology at the Kansas State Library, said that books had been the primary source of information provided by libraries in the past.
But to keep pace with the information explosion, libraries need to change their role to provide all types of information people can use in their daily lives, he said.
That includes not only providing a wide range of government documents at the library, but providing access for people to get information from sources on electronic databases across the country.
Flanders said he wants to change the library's current card catalog to a computerized, on-line public access catalog. Such systems are becoming the norm throughout the country, he said.
The library's board is now moving toward the purchase of such a system, which he foresees being available in 1996.
The library's staff and trustees will develop a strategic plan for making changes at the library, and it will be important to include city officials in that planning, he said.
Flanders said when he worked for the state library, he helped libraries across the state build electronic databases of community information for easy public access.
He wants to build a similar communitywide electronic database for Lawrence, which would store all types of government, business and organizational reference material.
Internet access is a reality for many people in Lawrence, he said. But too many people don't have any means of accessing the information superhighway, he said.
"The public library can serve as a public safety net in this regard in providing access," he said.