Archive for Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Library compiles expansion wish list

Patrons share ideas for improving services

April 13, 2004


A city task force won't be lacking ideas to study as it ponders how to improve the Lawrence Public Library.

Monday night about 50 people gathered in the auditorium of the building at 707 Vt. that has served for the past 30 years as the city library. They came to listen to ideas and share their suggestions about what a future library should be.

In order to serve the growing city, officials would like to expand and enhance the library. In the late 1990s they considered opening satellite branches, but the City Commission later directed officials to focus on plans for an enhanced downtown library.

One of those at Monday's meeting, Mary O'Neil, gave library director Bruce Flanders photographs of the Englewood, Colo., library's children's section for study.

"I'm just encouraged by the process," O'Neil said of the task force's efforts.

An improved children's section, including the young adult's section, certainly won't be overlooked in any new design, Flanders and task force chairman Craig Penzler said.

Although cost will be a factor, nothing is being ruled out now, they said. The former Riverfront Mall is among buildings being considered as a new location, they said.

"We want new ideas, a new concept for a library," Penzler said. "We want a facility that strengthens downtown."

Just make sure it is designed to look good and is functional, Patricia Sinclair said. She said there were fairly new buildings in Lawrence that weren't attractive.

A new Web site -- -- opened Monday to provide information to the public about the need for library enhancements.The site also includes photographs and information on several libraries in towns similar in size to Lawrence.At the site, visitors can complete a survey to share their ideas about the library's future.

"You need to have a building that is designed by architects that understand the functional part," Sinclair said.

Library task force members also were told to remember the need for free group meeting places downtown and to make the building accessible to people with disabilities and older residents.

The task force, made up of more than a dozen library staff and local business and government representatives, wants to take a "body of information" to the Lawrence City Commission later this year to begin a formal process of designing a new library or enhancing a building that is large enough to meet the growing city's needs.

A new library in the downtown area would require obtaining new space and doing whatever is necessary to make that space work, Penzler said.

"There isn't available space in downtown Lawrence for a library," he said. "We're talking about a major piece of downtown land."

A design summit is set for April 28-29 in the library's auditorium. The event will feature representatives from local design and architectural companies and task force members who will take information that has been gathered and come up with proposals for the library.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.