Lawrence may not be the only Douglas County community that decides to invest in new library space even as the book world makes a dramatic turn into the digital age.
Leaders with the Eudora Public Library announced on Monday they have hired a new library director who comes to Eudora after having successfully led an effort to build a $1.3 million library in Andover.
Carol Wohlford, who has served as the director of the Andover Public Library for the last nine years, will take over in early September as the director of the Eudora Public Library. She said she expects issues surrounding Eudora’s nearly 40-year-old, 2,500 square-foot library building to be a major topic.
“I have done this once, and if Eudora is ready to build a new library, I’m ready to do it again,” Wohlford said.
Eudora officials haven’t yet made any decisions about whether to seek public approval for a new library, but Wohlford’s hiring makes it clear a community discussion about the future of the library is on the horizon, said Kenny Massey, chair of the library’s board of directors.
“The board hasn’t officially started to talk about a new library yet, but the patrons who use the library regularly and the board realize the time is quickly approaching that we’re going to have to talk about the subject,” Massey said. “Carol has been through the growing pains of a library, which is where we’re at right now.”
Eudora library leaders, however, did secure property for a new library as part of an interlocal agreement when a vacant Eudora school building was razed last year. The library now owns a portion of the former Eudora school site near Ninth and Main streets in downtown.
The new job represents a bit of a homecoming for Wohlford. She grew up in East Lawrence and attended Kansas University. She married KU football player Bill Wohlford, who later went on to become a top aide to U.S. Sen. Bob Dole. While Wohlford and her husband, who died in 2004, lived in Washington, D.C., Wohlford worked as a librarian at the Smithsonian.
In Andover, Wohlford led a campaign to build a new 15,000 square-foot library to replace the community’s aging 2,500 square-foot building. The new building allowed the library to add a computer lab, art gallery, meeting rooms, an expanded children’s section, a genealogy department and other features.
But Wohlford said she doesn’t know what could be in store for Eudora until she hears from patrons and leaders in the community.
“But I do believe that a good library has to become a community hub,” Wohlford said. “The director has to reach out to the community and develop a place where people of all ages want to come.”
Wohlford replaces Marlene Evinger, who retired at the end of 2011 after 27 years with the Eudora Public Library.