A finalist for the Lawrence Public Library director position made her case to about 40 library employees and members of the public Wednesday.
Sarah Tansley, who is the manager of Chicago’s Humboldt Park Branch Library, gave a prepared speech on technology in library systems and then took questions on her background, library philosophy and experience.
She joked that her talk on technology was ironically written with pen and paper on an airplane but said that she felt library technology ultimately serves to enhance, rather than replace, traditional library services and books. Throughout the discussion, she also emphasized the importance of the library as a community space — an “asset” she praised in the plans for the $19 million Lawrence library expansion.
“The library is the city’s living room,” she said.
Tansley, one of three finalists for the local director’s job, has an undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University, a master’s in library and information science from Dominican University and a master’s in public service from DePaul University, according to her resume. She’s been working as a branch manager since 2006 and as a librarian since 2000. She began as a page when she was an undergraduate and then as children’s librarian, which she described as the “hardest job I’ve had.”
Questions fielded from the audience included a call to describe her greatest challenges. As a manager in an expansive system that’s seen controversy and even closures over extensive layoffs in the last few months, Tansley said keeping staff motivated was one of the biggest.
Tansley served on a committee, along with city-appointed architects and contractors, overseeing the Humboldt library’s renovation and said that experience would help her oversee the Lawrence construction project. She also spoke about collaborating with Kansas University’s libraries, as well as other community intuitions, on programs to add to the city library’s services, something she said she’s done in her current position.
The other two candidates, whose names will be released closer to their interview dates, will give talks at 3 p.m. Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 in the library’s conference room. They also are open to the public.