When you're about to spend a couple weeks hauling heavy boxes of books across town, it's important to try to keep things light.
And so, to make its stressful move easier, the Lawrence Public Library created a "fun committee" to help employees and is offering discounts at local businesses to library patrons.
Over the next two weeks, the library will be moving to the former Borders Books building, 700 New Hampshire St., which will be the temporary public library while the main library building is renovated over the next year. The library closed on Monday and will open in its temporary location around Jan. 21. In between, about 80 library employees will be loading up 225,000 books and other materials for the move.
“This is a big job for a staff,” said Kathleen Morgan, executive director of the Lawrence Public Library Foundation. “Injecting a little levity into shipping books around is something that was in order, because there’s a lot going on. If you keep it light and fun, then it’s going to go a lot more faster and be a lot more pleasant for all of us.”
The fun committee will be hosting an event each week for the library’s employees and their families. On Sunday night, the committee kicked off its move with its first event: movie night. A few employees gathered at Frank’s North Star Tavern to watch the season premiere of "Downton Abbey."
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Morgan said. “It never hurts to laugh a little with your coworkers and have a little fun with this task. I’m excited about it. There’s some stuff cooking that sounds like it’ll be fun.”
This Friday, the fun committee promises that a special guest will entertain the employees during lunch. The committee asked that the name of the guest not be revealed, to keep the surprise for employees. The committee is also planning more events, such as additional movie nights and bowling.
The library also wants its patrons to feel the fun and excitement in spite of the library’s closed doors.
“We aren’t just shutting our doors and opening them in two weeks,” Susan Brown, the library's marketing director, said. “We want people to feel like they are part of this move. We’re really using social media to keep folks informed and engaged.”
During the move, the library is coordinating with local businesses to bring benefits to library card owners. The library’s Twitter and Facebook feeds will have instructions on how to get discounts from various merchants on certain days. For example, on the announced day, if you go into The Dusty Bookshelf and exclaim “I love to read,” you can receive a 10 percent discount. Liberty Hall, Free State Brewery, Liberty Hall Cinema, La Prima Tazza, Love Garden Sounds, Wild Man Vintage and The Dusty Bookshelf are just some of the participating businesses. The discount announcements will be available daily on Twitter at @lawrencelibrary and on facebook.com/lawrencepubliclibrary.
The new location is filling up quickly with the help of Beltmann Relocation Group Inc. from Lenexa. The building has significantly less space, so more than half of the adult book collection will be put into storage. The stored books will be available upon request.
Items on hold can be picked up in the auditorium of the library’s main location, 707 Vermont St., starting this Wednesday, from noon to 7 p.m., until Saturday, and Monday through Saturday next week from noon to 7 p.m. Books can still be put on hold through the online system at lawrence.lib.ks.us during the move.
The library will lose meeting space at the new location and briefly stop adult and children's programs at the temporary space. The adult programs are projected to start back up at the end of January and the children's programs should start in February. The remodeled and expanded library should be finished by April 2014. The pricetag on the renovation project is $18 million.
“We call the library ‘it’s your spot,’” Brad Allen, the library’s director, said. “We see it as being a much better community destination with a lot more space for people to be and to hang out and work together. The current space we have is pretty restricted.”
The new library will have more technology resources, such as audio and video editing labs, more meeting rooms and a larger children’s area.