The role of the Lawrence Public Library ought to grow to include areas for budding filmmakers, aspiring recording artists and a host of other creative types, a finalist for the library’s director position told a Lawrence audience Tuesday.
Brad Allen, the second of three candidates to interview for the library’s top position, said he envisions the library of the future to still have plenty of books but also to have room for things like “content creation stations” and “fab labs.”
“I believe these are the type of things that people in Lawrence are excited about,” said Allen, a Topeka native who previously worked for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library before taking a management position in the Everett, Wash., library system. “I see Lawrence as a community that likes to create things, and I think the library ought to be there to help.”
Allen said he would want to explore creating specific areas in the library that would allow users to record and film audio and video projects at the library while also having access to the computer technology to edit and finish the pieces.
“Maybe we could have a film festival of projects created at the library,” Allen said. “I really do think the library could be a repository for all sorts of locally produced work.” Allen, who currently is a branch manager and program coordinator for the Everett Public Library, also envisions adding a 3-D printer that would allow people to produce actual plastic models of objects they have designed.
Allen was in Lawrence on Tuesday to interview for the Lawrence Public Library director position, which became open after longtime director Bruce Flanders retired and then took a job with an area library in October. Allen gave a public presentation to a crowd of about 30 people at the library on the future of libraries.
Among the challenges Allen sees for libraries in the future:
• Striking the right balance between being an archive for important local documents while still creating an environment where users can “browse and discover delightful things.”
• Working with publishing companies to ensure libraries have the opportunity to buy eBooks and other digital content, which has been more difficult for libraries to obtain than traditional books.
Allen grew up in Topeka and received his undergraduate degree from Kansas University in 1997. He also has a master’s of library and information science from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and a masters of Afro-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.