Archive for Thursday, October 20, 2011

Library director Bruce Flanders retires, effective immediately

October 20, 2011


Longtime Lawrence Public Library Director Bruce Flanders announced his sudden retirement Thursday, vacating the position he’s held for 16 years after recently taking a medical leave of absence.

“Bruce is a great guy, and he has brought us to this point,” said Deborah Thompson, chair of the library’s Board of Trustees. “We just have to move forward as a board and as a staff to bring that next phase of the library to fruition.”

Former Lawrence City Manager Mike Wildgen was named as the interim director of the library. Thompson said the board will begin a search process for a new director after the first of the year.

Thompson confirmed that Flanders has been on medical leave since August. His retirement is effective immediately. Flanders was not at Thursday’s meeting of the library board, and he did not make a statement in a press release distributed by the library. An attempt to reach Flanders for comment was not successful.

The library board praised Flanders’ service, noting that circulation at the library had doubled to 1.4 million items over the last decade, and that he had pushed hard for the library to adopt new technologies such as self-check stations and social media.

Flanders also played a key role in planning for an $18 million expansion of the library that voters approved in November. The expansion project currently is being designed and is scheduled to be under construction in 2013.

Thompson said the board would look for a new director that has strong library experience.

“Being a public library in a university community is unique,” Thompson said. “That may be a factor in our search. You have a very educated population, and there are very high expectations for the library.”


Terry Sexton 6 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Flanders, thank you for your service. Best wishes to you going forward.

irvan moore 6 years, 3 months ago

how come every time there is a job for an interm director of just about anything wildgen gets it

Bob Forer 6 years, 3 months ago

He needs the work and he has connnections at city hall.

BruceWayne 6 years, 3 months ago

Guilt...everytime Core-less opens his maw they know they made a mistake.

ljwhirled 6 years, 3 months ago

It is common for senior statesmen to take posts like this in the community. Same reason that Hank took over the chamber presidency recently.

I am glad we have a few great senior statesmen here in Lawrence to take on challenges like this.

Sunny Parker 6 years, 3 months ago

Does this mean we can ditch the new $18 Million library plan?

Kristy Wempe Bellinger 6 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Bruce for all you have done for our community!!! Best wishes to you in retirement and the rest of your endeavors!!

TacoBob 6 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Flanders has served the Lawrence community well over the last 16 years. The doubling of circulation and adoption of emerging technology among other improvements attest to his leadership skills. A variety of issues made the job beyond difficult - ever-decreasing funding, an aging facility long past its prime, and a small but vocal group of naysayers did Lawrence no favors. Yet successes were achieved and the library patrons and the community benefited in numerous ways.

Mr. Flanders, wherever life leads you next - fair winds and following seas. Thank you.

somebodynew 6 years, 3 months ago

This time I agree with blue73. I don't agree with some of what Mr. Flanders has done with the $18 mill deal, but I certainly hope he has good health to enjoy his retirement. He has done other good things and I hate to think he has to retire because of health. Good luck and be healthy.

Bassetlover 6 years, 3 months ago

So sorry to hear Bruce is having medical issues. He was a terrific leader for our library and is always, always the quintessential gentleman. Happy trails to you, Bruce! Mikey to the rescue once again....he will do a great job in the interim. Deb Thompson is the perfect person to lead the board on the new search. Best wishes to all. And thanks again, Bruce, for a job well done!

OnAir 6 years, 3 months ago

Three cheers for Bruce who led the library to broader horizons and greater services, all while balancing the budget and a, er, historic building. Well done!

Boston_Corbett 6 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Flanders did an excellent job in the State Library in Topeka,as well as here in Lawrence. He was always available and friendly to people in both places to those seeking information. Kudos to him.

And even before he came to Lawrence, an improved Library was badly needed, and many in the community event then recognized it and supported it., The eventual vote margin, from all areas of the city more than confirmed this. Those who continue to weigh in and complain about the issue show a certain lack of civic ethic. Heck, I disagree with some past votes of the community, but I don't sit around and repeat it on the internets every time I get the chance.

blindrabbit 6 years, 3 months ago

Wildgin as interim director of library; add this to similar positions at Eudora City Manager, Johnson County Real Estate Broker, Watkins Museum and the Animal Shelter. Makes one wonder if he is a genius or if as I feel, he should have held the Lawrence City Manager as an Interim position. My wonder, if Mike was pro/con to library expansion back when he was in LCM position; I know he was opposed to many issues including the Lawrence Arts Center. Somebody is looking out for him!

BruceWayne 6 years, 3 months ago

Amyx should appoint his hair piece to the posistion!

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