Archive for Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Library reorganization targets teens

Director aims to create space for video games, televisions, more computers

Lawrence resident Gary Moulton reads a newspaper last week at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. The library's director would like to rearrange the library and add more space for teenagers.

Lawrence resident Gary Moulton reads a newspaper last week at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. The library's director would like to rearrange the library and add more space for teenagers.

September 2, 2008


Library aims to give more space to teens

The 36-year-old Lawrence Public Library may soon get a major overhaul. Enlarge video

If 15-year-old Aoi Bowers were the leader of the Lawrence Public Library, he'd make sure it had more comic books, more video games, and definitely more computers for surfing the Net.

His cadre of cabinet members - fellow teens with junior high jewelry, baggy pants and dangling headphones - agreed.

So does Bruce Flanders, the actual director of the Lawrence Public Library. Flanders said the library is in the planning stages of a major reorganization that he hopes will increase the young adult section of the library from about 800 square feet to about 4,000 square feet in the coming months.

"The teens have a corner of the adult room in the library right now, which is a pretty sad comment," Flanders said. "We need to carve out a space that is among the most state-of-the art things we can do."

Where that space would be located within the 36-year-old library building, however, is still unknown. Also up in the air is what books or other offerings may have to be jettisoned to make way for the larger young-adult section.

In May, Flanders said library leaders were considering reducing the collection size of the library from about 260,000 items to about 220,000 to make room for more key services. Now, however, he says he's not sure that large of a reduction is possible.

"It is unlikely that we're going to make overly dramatic cuts to our collection size because the print collections will remain the centerpiece of what the library is," Flanders said. "Books are still the library's brand."

Flanders said cuts to some low-circulation items - such as automotive repair manuals - probably will occur. But he said a more likely way to save space is by consolidating staff office areas in the library.

With some of the space, Flanders said he hopes to create a young adult room that features televisions, a sound system and video game stations.

"It needs to be their own room," Flanders said. "It needs to be a place where they can crank the music up and be teens. And it needs to be in a place where we don't have to worry about them disrupting the rest of the library."

The area - which would be a little smaller than the current children's area of the library - would include books, too. But Flanders said it is critical the area go beyond the traditional library offerings.

"Teens today learn differently," Flanders said. "Teenagers today have never not known Google. Multimedia for them is the ocean they swim in."

Flanders said he hopes the reorganization project also will provide more space to increase the number of public computers in the library. Currently, the library has 50 computers, but Flanders believes about 150 are needed. He said the library is considering a plan to buy laptop computers that could be checked out to people to take anywhere within the library building.

Flanders said the reorganizations plans still need to be discussed by the library's board. He hopes the board will grant approval so some work can begin on rearranging space by early 2009.


lori 9 years, 7 months ago

Whenever I've been in the teen section, it's full of kids. I'm glad the library is looking to make more room for this age group.

peach_plum_pear 9 years, 7 months ago

the LPL doesn't have the money to do anything state of the art. With every corner in the children's room crammed to capacity, adult books sitting on overflow carts due to shelving shortages, and circulation staff processing thousands of items a day in a room the size of a modest studio apartment, Mr. Flanders needs to focus his attention on making practical changes that will make the library more usable for all patrons and staff members on a day to day basis. I would love to see the day that our library can afford to dote on the teenage population, but with the way things are, the LPL needs to do something for the taxpaying population so they can keep the hope of one day expanding alive.

Steve Tramba 9 years, 7 months ago

I'm with you Bowhunter99, and I certainly recognize that every family cannot afford an XBox/PS3/Wii, etc, but having it in a public setting like a library only means it'll likely get broken within a few hours b/c "it's not mine".Ignoring the video game comment, Aoi has a reasonable point. My local libraries have geared themselves towards teens more, and it shows in the volume of teens around when I take my 2 year old to the kids section. Reading books / newspapers / using a PC w/ headphones on isn't a bad thing, and keeps them at the tips of resources beyond anything most of us would get at home online.I'm not much into my Lawrence politics lately (haven't lived there for 10 years now), but having grown up there, I understand what Aoi is getting at in his comments.

jayhaitch 9 years, 7 months ago

Great! Are adults going to get some tax relief so the teens can take up the slack to fund this for themselves? They spend all day everyday in school, where we've already provided libraries and computers to serve ONLY them.

mkrylee 9 years, 7 months ago

A lot of parents today are trying to get their families back to the way it was in the 80's and 90's. By that I mean they are taking road trips instead of flying (even with the gas prices!) and not putting dvd players in their car. they are bringing paper and crayons so the kids can play school. they are letting the older kids listen to their ipod or cd player so everyones music preferrence is obtained. Kids today ALREADY watch too much tv, play too many video games and absorb themselves in music. To me, music is a fine hobby, but not for the library. Get more cd options to check out, not a version of The Hawk's Boom Boom Room in our public library. I will no longer spend my 4 hours a week taking my Little from Big Brothers Big Sisters to the Lawrence Public Library if all she is going to want to do is play video games! NOTHING will replace reading. These kids need to pick up books more often that way we stop having children in 8th grade with a 5th grade reading level. Does everyone not realize what a huge problem this is? Parents! We already are not going to have enough money to take care of your baby boomer generation. How about we give your children tools they can actually gain knowledge from. I dont think that Spyro or Guitar Hero are going to help your social security issues. Im sure this will really make some people mad, but its time to start being a parent instead of giving your children video games and such just to hush them up. What kind of a relationship are you building? And what kind of relationship would the library be building with teens if they give them the same junk some of their parents do?

costello 9 years, 7 months ago

"Whenever I've been in the teen section, it's full of kids. I'm glad the library is looking to make more room for this age group."I agree. The library is a positive place for teens to hang out. There aren't enough such places in Lawrence.

Amy Bartle 9 years, 7 months ago

I'm glad that some updates are being made. Even if there are a few computers and video games, the kids that come to the library will still be encouraged to read. Many families cannot afford the video games and Wiis; I see nothing wrong with offering some of this at the library. It's a safe place to go and more stimulating than the rec centers that mostly offer sports activities. When I was in high school, we had assignments that required us to go to our public library for research. We need to make sure that the schools are also linking to the library and its resources. Perhaps they already do this.

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