Archive for Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Getting a read on library plans

Forum focuses on ‘big’ ideas

September 21, 2005


Bruce Flanders is ready to take the plunge.

The director of the Lawrence Public Library told a crowd of about 60 people Tuesday afternoon that now is the time to build a new library for the 21st Century.

"We want to think big," Flanders said as part of a forum hosted by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. "Over the 10 years that I have been here, it is common for me to think about how we can incrementally improve library services. That's not what I'm doing now. Today we're talking about taking a big leap into the future."

Flanders mainly was preaching to the choir. Specific plans and cost estimates for the expansion haven't been determined, but in the first major public meeting to discuss a possible expansion of the library at 707 Vt., the idea was greeted with enthusiasm.

Heidi Randal, of Lawrence, helps her son, Dominic Randal, with a word as they read the book "Too Big, Too Small, Just Right" in the children&squot;s room at the Lawrence Public Library.

Heidi Randal, of Lawrence, helps her son, Dominic Randal, with a word as they read the book "Too Big, Too Small, Just Right" in the children's room at the Lawrence Public Library.

Many in the crowd said they thought it was a project the community would rally around, even though leaders have said it could cost more than $10 million and require a vote of the public to raise funding.

"This project speaks to a fundamental need in the community," said John Nitcher, a Lawrence resident who attended the meeting. "No matter your age or your economic station, the library can and will serve you. It meets a basic need to provide information and insight. In a sense, there's really nothing else like it."

Flanders told the crowd that consultants and Lawrence-based Gould Evans Architects have been hired to begin planning for an expansion. Flanders said the current library site is the only one under consideration for the project.

He said any project needs to include an expanded children and young adult reading area, expanded meeting space, expanded space for collections, additional quiet rooms and reading areas, significantly more computer labs and parking.

"If we can't enhance the parking around the library, then let's not do it at all," Flanders said. "But I think we can come up with a parking solution. I think we can even figure out a way to serve this entire quadrant of downtown with some sort of structured parking or parking garage."

Flanders said he thought it was feasible that the consultant may find the 45,000-square-foot library may need to double or even triple in size. He also said it was possible that the library would need to expand into the parking lot to the south because the 1972 building may not be able to support a number of new stories. City commissioners - who would have to approve any expansion of the library - are scheduled to receive a report from the consultants by January.

Andrea Hoag, a freelance writer from Oskaloosa, composes a book review on her laptop at the Lawrence Public Library.

Andrea Hoag, a freelance writer from Oskaloosa, composes a book review on her laptop at the Lawrence Public Library.

Flanders showed several photos of new "destination" libraries in Columbia, Mo., Fayetteville, Ark., Springfield, Mo., and Topeka to give audience members an idea of what a new library could include. Many of those libraries have cafes, gift shops and book areas that look more like bookstores than traditional libraries.

"We're talking about something that goes well beyond what we thought of as a library in our youth," Flanders said. "We want a destination that has so many amenities and is so enjoyable that people will literally drive miles to go to it."

Any ideas?

Library leaders want to hear what members of the community want in an expanded library. Consultants who have been hired to plan for the project will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital conference, 325 Maine. Similar meetings are expected to be held in October, November and December, although dates haven't been set yet.


christie 12 years, 6 months ago

Open space. Huge media centers. Banks of computers, new ones not the junk they currently have. A StarBucks would be nice, small snack bar thing. Integrate the Library with a museum, and they need a space for revolving displays.

Dump the 1960's color scheme, and the 1960's furniture.

Interior landscaping. SkyLights. Teaching facilities. Large windows with nice views.

Why hire a consultant, it's just a waste of money!

hodgie 12 years, 6 months ago

First, NO STARBUCKS! There's already one a block away from the library. There is no need for another. Coffee shop, yes, Starbucks, NO.

Secondly, I hope that the plans for a new library include a pay raise for the employees. The difference in starting wages between the Lawrence Public Library and the Topeka and Shawnee County Public library is about $4.00/hr for a paraprofessional.

b_asinbeer 12 years, 6 months ago

I like Starbucks....if it only wasn't too expensive. Cafe Mocha is high up on my list of drinks.

MacMan 12 years, 6 months ago

I HATE Starbucks! I LOVE coffee...just not Starbucks...they are a BIG RipOFF Chain.

Steve Jacob 12 years, 6 months ago

I tell everyone time and time again, LIBRARIES ARE OUTDATED. Why are many cities closing them down and Lawrence trying to add more? They are a thing of the past.

Just fill the whole basement with computers. That's all that is really needed in a library anymore. So that's what, a million or two, on computers and upgrades? No problem.

Nate Poell 12 years, 6 months ago


You can tell everyone libraries are outdated all you like, but how about giving us some salient points or reasons they're outdated?

I think libraries are not outdated for a couple of reasons: 1) it allows me and thousands of others to LEGALLY use books, music, videos and other media we would not be able to afford otherwise; 2) the internet is handy, but it isn't everything; 3) there are significant problems with your ideal "computer-only" library (upgrades cost money; online subscriptions to magazines, newspapers and journals cost money; if you're subscription to an online journal or service runs out, you no longer have access to ANY of the previous issues).

WWinkler 12 years, 6 months ago

We need modern well-protected computers that let users download items to their own floppies and cds and DVDs legally and install then delete user-owned legal software. Appropriate sound and printers. This supports the other library media.

Books and current periodicals will always be important. Acid-free paper long outlasts electronic media, and the means to read electronic gets obsolete and disappears, while eyes and hands don't. And food with reading. Compare spilling food on a paper page vs. a keyboard or DVD.

We should have just enough modern computers to support the library user population, not spend extra money to support those who think that free computers are part of what the world owes them a living. THAT should go to other library services.

In a college town, ever more have computers and communications at work and home.

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