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What does Lawrence need in a new public library?

Asked at Vermont Street on September 21, 2005

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Photo of Michelle Meyer

“Probably more computer access and better computer software, especially in the kids’ area.”

Photo of Jim Rome

“I’m satisfied with the one we have. I can’t think of anything else we need. It seems adequate to me.”

Photo of Phil Struble

“Parking. The ability to park here and get in safely. People need to feel safe bringing their kids here. They also need to focus on expanding the children’s section.”

Photo of Amber Worden

“They need more places for more adults to read to young children.”

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GreenEyedBlues 12 years, 7 months ago

For the love of Suess YES.

It sucks that Topeka is the cesspool and yet has four-star community theatre and public library facilities.

For being the cultural and intellectual capital we claim to be, Lawrence sure has ghetto libraries and LCT is horrible!

lunacydetector 12 years, 7 months ago

i don't think there should be a new library built unless it is a library annex on the west side of town (i know this will never happen because the downtown lobby is so strong and controlled by narrow minded people who lack true vision).

where is the growth (little as it has been these past few years)? the northwest part of town.

on a side note: topeka has some great things now because they believe in growth -because growth truly pays for itself.

the 'growth never pays' mentality is a fallacy that most lawrencians seem to have swallowed without question. in an educated community i find it especially amazing.

neopolss 12 years, 7 months ago

more books, and an expanded geneology section. Wichita library has a HUGE geneology area that puts ours to shame. The book selection is rather limited also compared to neighbors around us.

GreenEyedBlues 12 years, 7 months ago

LOL Silly me. I guess the question isn't IF they need a new library, but what they would need in the library.

I'd say they need more books. Seems like every time I go in there the Kama Sutras are all checked out!

Richard Heckler 12 years, 7 months ago

In addition to what others have suggested two more conference rooms for the library would be very nice.

Probaly more computer space would be helpful for public school/college students. Give that childrens area more books and a whole floor as that is very busy.

Rumor has it that new large conference space is under advisement for that vacant space next to the Eldredge.

More parking could be created by adding levels to the existing Eldredge lot.

larrytdog 12 years, 7 months ago

Try this one on for size:


Wouldn't it be neat if kids could ride their bikes to the branch library near their homes instead of making their parents fire up the SUV and drive all the way downtown and fight for parking?

Lincoln Nebraska, which has 2 1/2 times the population of Lawrence, has 9 times the number of neighborhood branch libraries that Lawrence does. They are beautiful, convenient, functional--AND NOT THE SAME AS A WAL-MART!! Libraries do not equal urban sprawl. Come on Lawrence. Think big city and not Eudora for once!

Hilary Morton 12 years, 7 months ago

Better DVD selection. They're starting to figure this out. Movies should be free, and readily available. I love that the library has a movie selection. There's nothing better on a summer afternoon than checking out a book and a few DVDs. I'm set for the week.

I can't remember the last time I parked in the library lot. Although it seems downtown is getting bigger, parking is getting more scarce. You can no longer park at Borders, forget 8th-7th street parking...ain't gonna happen. I think we should just close down Mass st. to cars, let pedestrians and shoppers walk openly, build some benches, and planters, and build a few more parking garages. I can't go downtown unless I walk, because the parking gets worse every year.

christie 12 years, 7 months ago

Open space. Huge media centers. Banks of computers, new ones not the junk they currently have. A StarBucks would be nice, small snack bar thing. Integrate the Library with a museum, and they need a space for revolving displays.

Dump the 1960's color scheme, and the 1960's furniture.

Interior landscaping. SkyLights. Teaching facilities. Large windows with nice views.

Why hire a consultant, it's just a waste of money!

Nate Poell 12 years, 7 months ago


Regarding Topeka, where is their flagship library again? Oh, right, it's smack in the center of the city, where the growth isn't. I'm not saying the west Lawrence area doesn't need a branch, but I think it's less important than the main library.

Parking in the library lot is only bad in the summer, when the aquatic center is open. Of course, this is the peak season of library usage, and it is bad at times, but it could be worse.

I think even_money's suggestion of temporary relocation is pretty good. I don't think aping Topeka or Columbia, etc. is a good idea with regards to architecture. Make the building serviceable and load it with tons of books and some good technology.

Kookamooka 12 years, 7 months ago

The library has an opportunity to really embrace the future of Lawrence by focussing on the kids section.

I advocate using the Old Carnegie Library as a Children's library (Sorry, Americana!) with more programing and MUCH MUCH better SECURITY.

Children can be noisy and distracting to serious Library patrons and I feel giving them their own special space could enhance their learning opportunities.

I ALSO think it would be COST EFFECTIVE!!

Richard Heckler 12 years, 7 months ago

Station Number 4 will be vacated in the near future... a branch library perhaps.

Lowell Holmes 12 years, 7 months ago

I have always felt that the main purposes of a library are; to help kids learn to enjoy books and reading, and as a repository of history, particularly local history. Everything else, DVD's, CD's and computer access are just extras. If the Carnagie building were to be dedicated as a childrens library it could go a long way to promoting literacy and getting todays youth started on the path of reading and realizing tv's and computers are not the end all and be all of life. Then a new library could be built that would have its main focus on research, and community development. Geneology, local histroy and architecture, things that could enrich our community. library shouldnt just ba a place where you can get a book that dont want to shell out your hard earned money for.

Ceallach 12 years, 7 months ago

o_m_b: Thanks for the link, we will keep all y'all in our prayers. I will once again call my family and ask if they are going inland, and once again they will probably tell me that they will be fine. Funny though, whenever they see that we are under a tornado watch they call to be sure I am going to "take cover."

Library needs -- The city should expand and renovate the downlown library AND open at least one branch location. Why would it have to be either downtown or a branch location? There is more than enough local talent to submit designs without paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for consultants. The library looks like it should be part of Mayberry RFD instead of a city the size of Lawrence. Branches do not have to be large, with the computerization of the stock it would be simple to find the book you want and request it from the "main" library, return and pick it up in a day or two.

beatrice 12 years, 7 months ago

More science books, apparently.

omb: be safe. Leave now if you can.

Linda Aikins 12 years, 7 months ago

OMB, you be smart now, you hear? This board needs both bobs. Keep in touch.

I like the branch idea. It is so difficult to get in and out of the one we have.

sunflower_sue 12 years, 7 months ago

Branches, branches, branches!

The town I grew up in had one main library...where absolutely no one lived! It (for awhile) did have the "bookmobile" that would come to your neighborhood and park for a bit so that you could run in, do the mad dash selection process, and check out your books. That was better than nothing.

I really think lots of focus should be put on the children of the community. Once a reader, always a reader.

Quote from my grandfather to my mother when she was a child: "See that man over there? He's the smartest man I've ever met. And do you know why? Because he reads!"
She passed that on to me when I was a child and it has stuck with me all these years.

OMB, You be careful down there! Sending up a prayer for you and all your neighbors!

avhjmlk 12 years, 7 months ago

OMB and TOB--neither of you are replaceable. That's just a fact.

I LOVE the idea of a Children's library in the Carnegie Building! Kookamooka, you're a genius!

Do people with authority (other than DavidRyan) read this and see the brilliant ideas this democratic forum comes up with? We're geniuses!

Jayhawk226 12 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps an interactive timeline that demonstrates all the banned Lawrence icons.

And of course, the evolution of the roundabout.

It'd make a great Lawrence historical section for certain!

b_asinbeer 12 years, 7 months ago

I agree with a few of you that the Lawrence Public Library is lacking books. And when I mean books, I mean quality books. Come on....the city is reaching almost 100,000 and we call the current library a "library?" It's more like an oversized bookstand....

I have to agree that a branch may be a good idea, but is it feasible cost-wise? After all, the city is expanding west, and a large distance may deter people from the west from coming only to find that there is no parking spot.

That's my $.02

hodgie 12 years, 7 months ago

Branches are not the answer. Topeka Public opted to not have branches so that they could concentrate on making one awesome library with bookmobiles to act in place of branches. This makes retrieving books for patrons easier and keeps the cost of building maintenance, more employes, splitting up a collection/spending more money on a collection all down low. If Topeka can get by with one main library, so can Lawrence.

Also, the librarians at Lawrence Public need better wages! A branch would mean more employees at a lower salary. Let's have one library with happily paid librarians!

littleme 12 years, 7 months ago

books..i mean it seems like there aren't many books there that were published after 1970!!!

l_eustacy 12 years, 7 months ago

We need to ask ourselves if we would still do this and have enough money for roundabouts...besides, "What do you need books for, we have TV."

blessed3x 12 years, 7 months ago

Whatever they do inside should be considered secondary to the artwork they choose to put outside. I think they should rush right out and hire the ex-hippies that have littered downtown with "trendy" (read ugly) chunks of concrete and metal that the truly enlightened people refer to as art. Maybe they could get the guy that did the midgets to create people seated at library computers looking at porn, or maybe a homeless guy sleeping in a library chair with a bottle of wild turkey and a pack of smokes. Now that's art!

b_asinbeer 12 years, 7 months ago

hodgie-"If Topeka can get by with one main library, so can Lawrence." I don't necessarily disagree with you, but I don't like the wording of that sentence. Why should we "get by" with just one library? You're right, maybe one library would be better. But, I don't want to "get by" with just one library. I want something that will provide more than what the citizens of Lawrence want. After all, where's the study that shows Topeka's library system is one of the best in the country?

If we do decide to build a bigger library, how will we fund it? I say, increase tickets to bicyclists around the KU campus. I must see at least 90% of them run Stop signs...So, place on cop on foot at the end of each class period and let them wait it out...Heck, if we did that, with about a $105 fine, that would be about $1000/day? Not bad! Imagine what I could think of if we had a bigger library...

MacMan 12 years, 7 months ago

Build a Library Branch on west 6th where Wal-Mart Super Store is trying to plant itself in West Lawrence... then you would have an indoor pool, H.S., Library branch, and McDonald's...what more could kids ask for???

hodgie 12 years, 7 months ago

b_asinbeer - I'm sorry for the wording on my statement about Topeka getting by with one library. I was in a hurry to write my comment. Let me explain.

The estimated population in Topeka for 2002/2003 was 122,103. According to the 2000 census, Lawrence's population was 80,098.

My point was that Topeka has a much larger population to serve and does it very well through one main library, three bookmobiles, home delivery services for disabled patrons and retirement homes, Interlibrary loan, and budgets for the home delivery of books, vhs tapes, and audio tapes/cds for all patrons through the US Mail. I'm not saying that Topeka has the best library in the country. Topeka can't compete with Seattle Public or Fayetteville, but I believe that it has a great working model and one that even Bruce Flanders believes is worth studying.

For those of you wanting books, of course there will be more books when the library is bigger. That's the point of expanding the library. But, if you put in branches, you limit the amount of books in each branch. You'll find yourself frustrated because the new David Sedaris is all checked out at the main branch, but available at the SW branch, so you wind up driving across town to pick up the available copy or placing a hold on it and waiting for three or four librarians to pull the book, transport it to the other branch for you, and notify you that it's available. If you have one branch, you can put all of the money for collection development into one library instead of spreading out your budget to two or more libraries.

Ceallach 12 years, 7 months ago

Developing a plan to add branch locations does not have to be so cost prohibititive. They could be similar to the Douglas County Treasurer's branch locations, little insets that allows one to view and reserve books from the current online library site. The requested books could be delivered to the outlets on a "next day" basis. That would allow a low cost method of testing the concept and determining which branch or branches should be maintained on a more permanent basis. Of course the downtown or "main" library would still be available to browsers, sleepers and bathers, offering them a wide range of choices:) As for the staff, did I miss the information verifying their being underpaid? What are the skill requirements that would justify higher wages? I doubt that a better wage would have stopped the staff member from being, first unhelpful, and then rude to e_m. On my last visit, less than a week ago, when I asked a question at the reference desk the man obviously thought I was wasting his time, guess sitting and staring at a stack of papers was a higher priority than answering a simple question -- and we don't even want to discuss the lack of dress code for the staff!

e_m: why is it that people who telephone are almost always allowed to "butt" in line? Not just at the library, I have noticed this in many other places. Most phones come with HOLD buttons, IMHO they should be used more.

hodgie 12 years, 7 months ago

It has been three years since I applied at Lawrence Public, but back then they were paying their paraprofessionals (Librarians w/o a Master's degree) in the teen section $6.50/hr. At that time, I believe Topeka Public was starting their paraprofessionals at $12.00. That's almost twice the salary!! That's ridiculous! How is someone supposed to live on $6.50/hr? If Lawrence wants an upstanding library, they're going to have to have respectable pay for their Librarians.

I don't know about you, but I do believe that higher wages would make a difference in attitudes. As well as a new building. I'm not sure how the dress code is at Lawrence Public, but I don't see how that affects service to the public.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 7 months ago

A branch at 6th and Wakie has been suggested yes near the High School many times which seems practical.

The Carnegie as a separate area for children does not seem practical for parents. The Carnegie for a science research center...why not?

Updating downtown is reasonable.

I say go for broke and do it all.

ms_canada 12 years, 7 months ago

In my city we have a few branch libraries in some of the malls. When a store comes vacant the library moves in. There is not much space for many books but books can be ordered and they are promptly delivered to the branch, we are notified to pick them up. It is a simple solution for convenience to access books. And a word to omb - I will keep the candle burning in the window should you need to find your way to a warm bed. Just to clarify for all, not my bed. :o) The guest bed.

Ceallach 12 years, 7 months ago

A moderate dress code does not affect service to the public, however, no dress code can have an adverse affect on how the employee perceives themself and how they are perceived by others. It is unrealistic for someone to wear raggy and faded, if not stained, clothing to an office type work environment and still have expectation of being paid, promoted, or treated as a professional. Not even in Lawrence. On my last visit the people at the reference desk looked like they had just had their toenails pulled out and wanted to be anywhere else but at that desk.

Kookamooka 12 years, 7 months ago

You know what is TOTALLY terrific about the Carnegie "Children's" Library's the same library building where Langston Hughes learned how to read. Andrew Carnegie originally dedicated that library to the people of Lawrence to encourage understanding and the building of knowledge. It would be wonderful if it could be used for it's original purpose again. Maybe Andrew Carnegie's Ghost would be so pleased, many other philanthropists would throw money at the project!!!

kansaskev61 12 years, 7 months ago

Whatever they decide....rebuild from scratch or remodel, they need to think up! Add stories not acreage. One floor for the kids, one for the adults and one for the multimedia. The basement for meeting spaces. Then use the existing parking area but build down. Use the same location, re-locate for the redo for a short time. Someone suggested the Riverfront mall or the old Tanger mall. Good idea. The taxpayers won't have to shell out for more land and more money can be used on the actual building.

Ceallach 12 years, 7 months ago

I like the Carnegie Children's Library idea.

Ceallach 12 years, 7 months ago

ms_canada: We have very similar ideas about the branches (who would have thought it :)

btw, I think Katrina has actually changed many people's attitudes about evacuation. I called my mother this afternoon, fully expecting her to say she was staying, and lo and behold -- she told me of the plan she, my sisters and their families have in place, should Rita not turn North. I was pleased and amazed.

Reader 12 years, 7 months ago

Kansaskev61 Finally, "Someone Who Knows!" The "Tanger Mall" Would Be The Prefect Place! It Could Be Broke Up Into Sections. All That Building Going To Waste, Just Like The "Furniture Store." Oh Yeah, It Didn't Take Long For Them To Bail Out Either. But "Heaven Forbid That The "Blue Bloods" Of "South Lawrence" Make Thier Way Over To "Our Side" Of Town "Just To Get A Few Books! Huh? Like We Have To Go Across "Just To Get A Few Groceries!" Maybe They Could Keep The Sidewalk In Front Of The "Lawrence Information Center" Swept Off On A Regular Basis!" Maybe We Could North 2nd And Locust Fixed Soon, Instead Of Three Years From Now! Just Like "New Orleans," I Think They Told Them, "How Long Can You Hold Your Breath, Or Tread Water?" Not!!

beatrice 12 years, 7 months ago

Reader: Great idea on the Tanger Mall. Plenty of parking and space, However You Lost Me On The New Orleans Reference.

Ceallach: You are spot on with the dress code. Even a radical liberal like myself wants to see professionals who deal with the public dress like, well, professionals. If you want to wear a blue-jean jumper or ratty looking shirt, shorts, and earth shoes, then work in a coffee shop. But I also believe people should put more effort into their attire when going out to eat. Maybe it is a generational thing.

I just found out that I will be taking in refugees from the Texas Gulf Coast who are fleeing the storm, where roads are being closed to incoming traffic. (Is it proper to call the in-laws "refugees?")

Richard Heckler 12 years, 7 months ago

When the 6th and Wakarusa Dillons shuts down there's the spot for the library. The day Wal-Mart opens their doors will likely make that Dillons history cuz it's not doing so well.

Library space on the horizon...pure speculation.

I too like the Carnegie childrens library concept yet still see as impractical. Wherever the childrens library finds itself that's where we'll be.

Ceallach 12 years, 7 months ago

beatrice: Proper or not, I'm sure some in-laws would prefer "refugees" to what they are usually called :) Good for you, providing a safe haven!

Not my in-laws of course (covering, covering, covering :)

beatrice 12 years, 7 months ago

kpippen: books are the heavy things we use to make pressed flowers. ... or ... - books are kind of like People magazine, but longer and usually not as many pictures. ... finally ... I'm not quite sure why, but having a bunch of them around often provides one with a false sense of intelligence.

Cea: If you run into some friendly folks in town with wicked-bad Texas accents, they might be mine. I'm sure they will want to go see our Wal-Mart (sigh).

sunflower_sue 12 years, 7 months ago

My in-laws live on the hill overlooking my house as "lord's of the manor". First thing I did when I moved in was to plant a bunch of trees. (not that we don't get along but it's that whole "good fences" thing) That, and I don't like to drag out my swimsuit for the hot tub. Good luck Bea.

Back to libraries. Tongie has a small library but does the "order a book" thing that ms_C described. I can even order a book on-line and they will get it promptly for me. I love the whole idea of sharing! Makes me feel all warm and tingly inside.

beatrice 12 years, 7 months ago

All y'all make me laugh. :) What ever you call them, I will be happy if we don't call them "permanent." Houseguests are, after all, like fish after three days, they begin to stink.

Grundoon Luna 12 years, 7 months ago

One of the things I liked most about Chicago was that there was always a neat library in whatever part of town I lived in. So, I say branches! Ultimately four of them at the near corners of town, but they can start with one.

If you're still out there, Bea, you'd asked about the not smoking . . . I have been weak and I have had a couple, but I renew my resolve and march forward.

beatrice 12 years, 7 months ago

AA: Keep at it. I have heard that one thing that helps is when you get the urge, just take a couple of deep breaths and let it out slow, same as if you were taking a drag on a cig. It fools the mind, fills the lungs, and it doesn't require eating a ton. Good luck!

hodgie 12 years, 7 months ago

One last time. The cities that you are comparing Lawrence to are so much larger in population and need branch libraires. Lawrence does not need a branch or branches. It would be a waste of money and time.

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