Archive for Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lawrence library director — who retired last week — lands job at university library in Olathe

October 26, 2011


The events surrounding the sudden departure of the longtime director of the Lawrence Public Library took a new twist on Wednesday.

Lawrence leaders learned that recently retired Bruce Flanders has taken a new job as director of the Mabee Library at Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe. He starts his position Nov. 1.

Lawrence library leaders said the announcement was news to them.

“I was very surprised,” said Joan Golden, a member of the city’s library board that is responsible for overseeing the operations of the facility. “I had absolutely no inkling of it. We were totally under the impression that his intent was to retire.”

But library leaders and Mayor Aron Cromwell on Wednesday insisted that none of this is a sign that Flanders was forced out of his position, which plays a key role in overseeing an $18 million expansion of the downtown library. That project currently is in design stages.

Cromwell sought to assure community members that Flanders’ departure was not an indication the director had concerns about the direction the project was heading.

“He was with us through the entire project, and he expressed no problems or concerns with it,” Cromwell said. “He was very excited about the entire project.”

Flanders’ retirement announcement, however, was sudden. The library board last Thursday announced that Flanders — who had been its director for 16 years — was retiring, effective immediately. Flanders did not attend the board meeting, and the press release announcing his retirement included no comments from him. He also did not return telephone calls at the time seeking comment.

When asked about the suddenness of the announcement and the absence of Flanders, the library board’s chair noted that Flanders had been on medical leave.

On Wednesday, library board chair Deborah Thompson said Flanders had mentioned nothing to her about another job. She said Flanders’ decision to leave the position was completely his own.

While no one indicated that Flanders had expressed any concern about the direction of the $18 million expansion — which he advocated for years — several sources did say that some design decisions recently had not gone smoothly.

Both Golden and Thompson confirmed that library board members this summer were asked to make some relatively quick decisions about issues related to radio frequency devices, types of computer work stations and other issues that had to be decided before the design could proceed. Those issues had been presented to Flanders who was responsible for presenting them to the board.

“The board was caught a bit unaware that there were several things that had to be approved in a relatively short period of time,” Golden said.

But Golden and others said they did not know whether the rigors of overseeing the expansion project played a role in Flanders’ departure.

Flanders left a voice mail message with the Journal-World on Wednesday afternoon. He said had not taken the Mid-America job at the time he informed the board of his retirement. He said retirement is an appropriate term because he is retiring from the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System, which is the pension plan that covers many public government employees.

Flanders also said he would miss the library, and continues to be supportive of its expansion plans.

“They’re on the right track in terms of the library expansion and all the services they’ll offer,” Flanders said. “I will miss that, but I’m really excited about all my new challenges.”

As for his health, Flanders said he had undergone some medical treatments this summer that required him to miss work, but he said a doctor now has cleared him to return to work.

An attempt to reach Flanders for further comment was unsuccessful.


LogicMan 6 years, 8 months ago

Hmmm ...

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, ...

KU_cynic 6 years, 8 months ago

Another double-dipping baby-boomer public-employee finding a different teat to suck on . . .

KU_cynic 6 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 7 months ago

LOL! Sorry to laugh, but that was some funny stuff, right chair! ROFLMAO!

(his name is KU_cynic, cynic, cynical, cynic).

Phillbert 6 years, 8 months ago

...says the public employee.

And Mid-America Nazarene is a private school, so how exactly is this double-dipping?

Sean Livingstone 6 years, 7 months ago

none2, there's a difference... one source of money (state) comes from unwilling givers (taxpayers), and the other source comes from willing givers (Christians).

skootermonkey 6 years, 7 months ago

That was my thought as well. Collect retirement while working another job. It's done all the time especially in schools.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Another public servant who gave his life for books without thought of profit. Pigs.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 8 months ago

He bolted, leaving the lawrence taxpayer a bill, just like the director of the EmpT bus system.

Taxpayers should, as soon as possible, figure out how to get this library money pit killed.

TacoBob 6 years, 8 months ago

And how did his departure leave the taxpayer a bill? The funding was passed, despite your minority 'no' votes. Sounds like you have beef with the democratic process. Mr. Flanders departure was no indictment of the project, re-read the article to catch up with current events.

irvan moore 6 years, 8 months ago

so the captain is the first one off the sinking ship?

theoljhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

Sounds a little envious to me. He worked his time, took his due retirement, found another job, and will now receive two paychecks. What's wrong with that? He is earning everything he gets and MNU is a private christian university that receives no state or federal monies.

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

The sudden leaving was a little weird. Most people retire a little more gradually, but getting out of KPERS while it's still obligated to pay you is a wise move under Brownback. As long as he's not still a public employee, "double dipping" is perfectly legit.

TacoBob 6 years, 8 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 nay Sayers did Lawrence no favors. Yet successes were achieved and the library patrons and the community benefited in numerous ways.

The knives have yet to come out as the library upgrade gets underway. Mr. Flanders worked countless hours to position the library for the future and passes the baton to the next leader on his own terms. Sixteen years of public service in an often-negative environment is more than enough incentive to move on.

He has been in the library field for over 30 years, first at the State Library of Kansas in Topeka and most recently as Director of the Lawrence Public Library. Congratulations on the retirement, and the new opportunity to apply your beliefs in a new opportunity.

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

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Are there no young librarians looking for a first chance opportunity? How about giving some young school administrator a chance like in Tongy or LPS?

I can think of at least 4 instances lately where a great high paying job went to somebody already using retirement funds. Actually, three of the jobs were near 100k, you know the public servant types.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 7 months ago

So you think the Lawrence Public Library directorship is an entry-level job, do you?

And, so what if someone retires then gets another job that pays well? Do you have something against experience? And are you including military personnel who retire after 20 years in your complaint?

Frankly, I think that most people who complain about things like this are merely being resentful of other people's opportunities.

Would you really prefer that everyone be brought down to your level of lack of such opportunities, rather than work towards getting the same opportunities for yourself? After all, pensions and early retirement aren't just for people "working at the taxpayers' teat".

Scott Morgan 6 years, 7 months ago

Got no complaints where I am, rather proud I might add. I think about others though. Double dipping is wrong wrong wrong, especially around here.

So, a person graduating with a Masters in Library Science is not qualified?

There is at least 300 teachers in the area with administration degrees. Very popular post grad teaching degree. Ya think maybe LPS could have hired one? Ya think Tongy could have hired an Asst. Super somewhere opening up another postition. Ya think?

breeze 6 years, 7 months ago

Running a library is not an entry-level position. Wissmo sounds like he/she works for a school district but must not have much experience with either classrooms or administration, based on the attitudes expressed here. Really, you think that someone just out of grad. school is prepared to run a public institution with a sizable budget, many long-experienced staff members and a great obligation to provide the best possible service? Only the foolish and conceited new degree holder would even consider applying for that job, if it were possible.

Hadley_says 6 years, 7 months ago

I've always thought well of our former library director, but this whole thing is more than a little awkward, and gives me pause.

Either Mr. Flanders did not provide his board a level of communication, professional courtesy, and information to which it is entitled, and which I think has always been afforded to him, or there is something going on here that nobody is talking about.

The discussion of the term "retirement" is amusing. Check with the reference desk for the definition of "equivocation." That explanation also suggests something funny.

Dig around some more, Chad. There is a fishy smell here.

irvan moore 6 years, 7 months ago

i hope he is smart enough to move to olathe before the taxes for the new library and parking garage kick in

Frightwig 6 years, 7 months ago

Just because a person retires from one place doesn't mean that they should be forced to stay unemployed. Are old WalMart greeters considered double-dippers? If a retiree feels fit enough to continue working someplace else, good for him or her.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 7 months ago

Me thinks a greeter at Walmart isn't living in a half million buck home, knocking down more money in retirement than most 30 year old well employed folks make.

Oh, and Walmart is a private business, none of the other circumstances were.

TacoBob 6 years, 7 months ago

Who, in the current discussion, lives in a half million buck home? Who, in the current discussion, knocks down more money in retirement than most 30 year old well employed folks make?

And how does one conclude that Walmart workers didn't work for the public sector before taking a job with a private business?

None of your examples come close to the subject of this article. A cursory review of the facts, easily researched, show none of your examples apply. Check a few salaries and property values before you make baseless observations. Like comparing apples and hamburgers.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 7 months ago

Taco, I could give a flying blank at a rolling donut hole if a private sector business wishes to burn money by paying double. My examples stand, and I care because my moolah in the form of taxes pay for them.

I also care to see our community grow, and young blood helps.

Taco, did you know many high school asst. principals make over 100K with benefits. How much do you think the asst. manager of say, Baldwin or Tongy’s post office makes? I bet you think around 30K. hahahhaha. Do some work as I did and find out.

Taco, How much after special out provisions, paid insurance. plans, district special winko winko deals..........oh heck check out former LPS supers retirement package. You have to dig, they make it hard to see the real amount. Taco, the fellow still gets all the gravy of retirement while collecting what a normal fellow or fellowette makes every 3 years.

Now Taco pay attention, One of the big "watch my hands and try to find the pea" tricks is cash value insurance. Taco, this is an insurance plan which pays the owner cash if they opt out. Rumor has it a local non Lawrence super knocked down a half million in cash out life insurance after being non renewed.

Eazy smeezy to check our new retired from California Lawrence PS administrator makes, CA public school retirement is broken and a abomination for the poor saps who pay. She is also married to an MD.

Ya think Taco any of these gravy train public servants share an apartment off Mass with a couple of geo majors.

no_thanks 6 years, 7 months ago

I respect Mr. Flanders for his desire to improve the Lawrence Library, but my instinct is that there is more to this story.

I have not insight into the situation, but I remain highly skeptical of the investment in the library, and am curious about the following: 1. Are the library plans taking on a new direction other than what was sold to the public? 2. Was the statistical data on how many people use the library accurate (i.e. calling BS on 70% of DG County residents having a library card). 3. How is the library going to cover it's significantly higher operating expenses for the new building (there may be some utility savings, but I highly doubt it)? 4. Who is financially (other than Gould Evans and library employees) benefitting from the expanded library?

breeze 6 years, 7 months ago

I can see the architects/contractors benefitting financially but the employees? Hardly.

pace 6 years, 7 months ago

I wish him the best. Lord save us if anyone leads their life to satisfy this forum's trolls.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't know Mr. Flanders or anything more than what I read in the newspaper, but this is what it looks like to me.

Mr. Flanders has medical issues that forced him to retire from his high-profile, high-stress job. Though his retirement benefits may be better than many of us (certainly myself) can expect, it would represent a considerable reduction from his previous salary. After deciding to retire, the position in Olathe became available, and the salary there plus retirement benefits will mean a nearly stable level of income, and considerably less work and stress.

Kind of a no-brainer, isn't it?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.