KU grad hired as Lawrence Public Library’s new director

A branch manager of a suburban Seattle library, who stresses how the library of the future should become a center of creativity, will become the new director of the Lawrence Public Library.

Brad Allen, branch manager and programming coordinator for Everett Public Library in Everett, Wash., has been hired by the Lawrence Public Library board to serve as the library’s director. Allen will take over as construction work is set to begin on a $19 million expansion of the downtown library.

“I’m so excited the community is behind moving the library into the future,” Allen said Thursday. “I want to do everything from having great story times, to having every book every kid wants to having the best technology we can.”

Allen was in Lawrence in late February to interview for the position and delivered a public presentation about how the library could add “content creation stations” and other technology to foster creativity.

“I see Lawrence as a community that likes to create things, and I think the library ought to be there to help,” Allen said at the time.

Allen, 37, is a Topeka native who was the adult services supervisor for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library before taking his job in Everett in 2010. He has his undergraduate degree from Kansas University, and a master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois and a master’s in Afro-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin.

Library board chairwoman Deborah Thompson said Allen has the library management experience and leadership skills to guide the upcoming library expansion.

“The board was impressed with his responses during the interview and his public presentations, and looks forward to working with him,” Thompson said.

Allen will begin his duties on May 1. His salary will be $88,000 per year. Allen replaces Bruce Flanders, who retired and then took a job with an area library in October.