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Opinion

Opinion

Library future

The Lawrence Public Library’s new director seems to have the right experience and outlook to guide the library to a vibrant future.

March 16, 2012

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Brad Allen, the new director of the Lawrence Public Library, comes to town as the library is about to undergo a $19 million expansion and just in time to have an impact on some key decisions about that project.

The Topeka native worked for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library before becoming a branch manager and program coordinator in the Everett, Wash., library system. He received his undergraduate degree from Kansas University, a master’s of library and information science from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and a master’s of Afro-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

During his interview last month, Allen stressed the importance of making the library a center of creativity. Allen envisions the library of the future as having plenty of books but also providing areas for budding filmmakers, aspiring recording artists and other creative types who need access to computer technology to edit and finish their pieces.

Allen admits there are challenges for libraries. These include finding a balance between serving as an archive for important documents and creating an environment where users can “browse and discover delightful things.” It also will be important to work 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.

In just about every aspect of its operation, the Lawrence Public Library will need to embrace new technology to provide the best service and opportunities for its patrons. Allen appears to have the right experience and outlook to lead the library at this important time. Welcome to Lawrence, Mr. Allen.

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

Here is an example of what I'm talking about in the previous post:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/18/BUCP1NLI18.DTL

He's going to have to be very careful with what he puts in place for high tech. The issues are growing by the day. If he doesn't watch out, he will have to have assistants to help him plow through the information. This is just a beginning-there is much more in the future, and the Lawrence Public Library will have to tread carefully if its finances are to stay positive.

I live both in San Francisco and in Lawrence, and I work within sight of Google in Mountain View.I can tell you first hand that many of these issues are far from settled.

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

I will have to wait and see. He has expressed very little interest in branch libraries, which Lawrence needs very much. His interest in high tech may prove doubtful, since high tech is changing all the time, and it is very expensive.

I see very little concern about what can be done for average Lawence ditizens, who don't have the money or equipment to produce movies.

My feeling about it is he may be sending out signals that are way over his head to produce, and he may regret those signals very strongly later.

It is important to choose local people, as much as possible, but I don't know that he knows what Lawrence is today. It is growing, and there are many different factions at work in this town. I'm not so sure that Lawrence should welcome him with open arms.

It is especially important to come up with branch libraries, although he and the library board apparently think otherwise. To force all citizens of Lawrence to come down (mostly drive) to one library is ridiculous in this day and age.

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goldfish90 2 years, 1 month ago

When is the expansion going to happen?

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 1 month ago

Good luck, Brad. There is lots of potential here.

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