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Have you used the Lawrence Public Library in the past year?

Asked at Hy-Vee, 3504 Clinton Parkway on February 26, 2009

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Photo of Susan Leavy

“No. I buy my books. I like to keep them.”

Photo of Joni Barnes

“No, because of the location. It’s hard to get in and out of there with the traffic.”

Photo of Chris Coleman

“No, I haven’t. I can find everything out on the Internet.”

Photo of Kirby Schmelzle

“Yes, we have, for mostly children’s books.”

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Comments

Pink_Sock 5 years, 1 month ago

When I lived in Lawrence, I went for a few months, but when a homeless dude was there with vomit dried in his hair was begging me for change. I said no, and another hit me up, I said no, and another............

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Omegatron 5 years, 1 month ago

Library's location suck, always has. Tear it down and build a new one out there by prairie park nature center.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Frequently for books of course and movies such as the old musicals. Yep great selection.

The place is quite busy each time we're there. I say build more space, say two stories, above the parking lot.

Then build a three story parking/metered lot on the NW corner of 8th and Vermont.

The current library needs more bike lock up contraptions.

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couranna1 5 years, 1 month ago

not too much it is not very clean and not enough computers

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Pywacket 5 years, 1 month ago

lazz~ Disturbing? What are you reading into my comments? To clarify what I did say, I've never personally had a problem with other patrons in all the years I've gone there, although I have given a few of them a wide berth due to the overpowering odor. My suggestions were made to address the frequent concerns others voice about the "smelly bums" (to use the typical phrase) who use the place as a flophouse, ogle teenage girls, etc. While some of those comments could be housed in kinder terms, I do think people have a point and are not simply being snooty or exclusionary.

As for your assertion that those are already the library's rules, good! That's a start. But it's unlikely they are being enforced--otherwise, would there be so many comments on the subject every time the library is discussed? Maybe the library needs to post those rules in several places so people know they have recourse if they're uncomfortable there due to other patrons.

Please show me where I advocated tossing anyone out because someone didn't like the way they were dressed. If that's the level of your reading comprehension, no wonder you felt flabbergasted. Shabby clothes don't drive away other patrons. An odor that curls the nostrils at 90 paces does. As for your never having been approached or bothered by anyone, do you imagine that is definitive proof that no one else has? I've never had my house broken into but I'm not so arrogant as to scoff at others' claims. And if someone feels harassed, they should reasonably expect that they can report the offender and that that person will be asked to leave. If that's already the policy, good. I am not sure people are aware of it, though.

Finally, I never intimated that the library had the means of becoming the next Barnes & Noble. I even acknowledged the problem of funding--so I can only conclude that you're willfully misunderstanding my comments. I also mentioned having checked out thousands of books over the years, so obviously my impression of the decor does not keep me away. That said, the appearance is very dull and uninviting and you're naive if you think that is totally unimportant.

If the library had the funding to do as other libraries are doing (and finding profitable), and could ramp up the ambience, more people would probably go there. Others (like me), who already go might hang around for an hour and spend some money on coffee or a soft drink. I do not intend to stop using the library because of its dated and boring atmosphere--but I would probably use it more if it could be made more inviting. Atmosphere does matter. It's not the be-all or the end-all, but it goes a long way toward getting people in and making them feel comfortable there. If they do not feel comfortable, they may never find out what an excellent breadth of materials have been collected. And that would be a shame.

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local_support 5 years, 1 month ago

"I have, but only for the free wireless. KU Libraries > Lawrence Public Library."

Maybe so but not everyone in this town is a KU student or faculty.

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Donnuts 5 years, 1 month ago

that was nice Multi- yall ought to check out the smiley faces that float.

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Corey Keizer 5 years, 1 month ago

I like the 2nd and 3rd answers. 2nd because traffic in Lawrence is soooo bad. 3rd because everything on the internet is a valid dependable source of information.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 1 month ago

lazz, the problem, at least when I went regularly, was that they DIDN'T enforce those rules. The system assigns a person to a particular computer, brought up issues when it would sit you next to someone who stunk so badly you couldn't take it. Or next to a computer where 2-3 kids were on there, just swinging around in chairs and goofing off.

Once, when I saw I would be placed next to a known offender, I asked to have my ticket voided, so I could pull another one, and why. The employee said that could not be done, as it would mess up the system. I left that day. The next time I came back, I asked a different employee, who just happened to be the supervisor. They said, the other employee was wrong, and that they could easily just delete the one, and have you sign in again.

I opted to figure this one out for myself. My son also had a library card.

I would swipe one card, see what place I was to use. If not ok, I would use his to pull up the next available seat and that usually solved the situation. I could then delete the first one.

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witchfindergeneral 5 years, 1 month ago

I have, but only for the free wireless. KU Libraries > Lawrence Public Library.

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alm77 5 years, 1 month ago

sweetpea, I don't mind the fines. It's completely avoidable and if you do get a fine, well, at least it's for a good cause. :)

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ms_canada 5 years, 1 month ago

shula - yeh for you! Indeed those are the best. In fact so good that I read the whole series -6 books- twice. I don't usually like to take the time to do that, but they are so good you wish the story could go on forever and ever. Another group that you might want to try by Diana Gabaldon are the Lord John ones. I have one right here in my library bag that I will get to in a couple of days. Lord John is in the Outlander series. You know, the guy that was in love with Jamie. The one I have now is Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. Should be good. If you like the historical base of books, you might want to try the Camulod Chronicle series by Canadian author Jack Whyte. Anyone to whom I have recommended these books has loved them as much as I do. Whyte also has a trilogy out on the Knights Templar. Excellent stories. Look at his website. Did you read all of the Outlander series? I believe there are 6 books in the series.

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Kelly Cline 5 years, 1 month ago

If you need to own a book, try Half Price Books on 23rd street. You can get great $1 books in their clearance section. All their other books are cheap too. This is better for me since I often have overdue books!

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lazz 5 years, 1 month ago

Many of these comments are flabbergasting. Even disturbing. Pywacket, the rules you propose are, by and large, the rules enforced at the library; there's always (I think) a security guard on duty, and I from what I can see, they do a good job under difficult circumstances; it is, after all, a public building, so they can't be tossing out patrons just because they don't like the way they dress ... i go to the library at least three times a week, and haven't been approached or bothered by any homeless dudes that I can recall; just last night I was hit up for change in the dark alley when leaving Keno's - so does that mean I'm not going to go to Keno's or I'm going to knock it in a public forum? And the decor? 70s drab? It's a LIBRARY, not a snazzy new multinational bookstore chain, and a PUBLIC (paid for with dwindling tax money) library, at that. And they're doing a fabulous job. Those of us who use it regularly really appreciate all the effort that's gone into making it so incredibly user-friendly. Sure, renovations and satellite outlets would be nice; I've long thought an affordable solution to the space crunch would be to lease warehouse space north of the river and house the older, little-used books there, any of which could be retrieved when requested; and perhaps move the children's library into the old Carnegie Library building. At any rate, if, when discussing a library, it's at all appropriate to discuss the books, videos and music -- are they regularly updated? are they readily available? are they kept in good condition? -- and the helpfulness of the staff, rather than bathing habits of some of the patrons, then absolute praise is in order. One other thing: The cookbook selection is second-to-none. I've never seen one better.

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Donnuts 5 years, 1 month ago

I would but as soon as I entered the library there would be a bunch of thugs one in particular I would like to identify... I would then also be responsible for feeding and housing everyone and I would also have to correct anything anyone did that was not correct and timely for contemporary political views. and get this it is current politically correct view that if you don't do what the majority wants then you will be sentenced by a corrupt police department to death. That is politically correct because people need to be able to determine something about your life above you being able to do something to benefit yourself in your life.

"Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country has done to you."

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alm77 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, I would have never read all of Amy Tan's or Sue Grafton's books if I didn't get them from the library. The kids love it too. We love to go there and get a movie to take with us when we go on a trip.

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schula 5 years, 1 month ago

Ms canada -- I just finished reading The Fiery Cross. It was from reading these boards that I got interested in the series. I believe you, Sunny Sue and Ceallach were discussing the series. I was intrigued and after reading Outlander, I was hooked. I am going to be visiting the library soon to find A Breath of Snow and Ashes. I thought the Fiery Cross was really good and there were several places that really touched my heart. Thanks to you, Sunny Sue and Ceallach for piquing my interest.

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ms_canada 5 years, 1 month ago

No, but I do visit the Highlands Library every 2-3 weeks and borrow 4-5 books. I cannot afford to buy all the books I read, which adds up to about 70 per year. I do buy some books that I want to keep. Internet, as Chris, the truck driver above says, is good for looking up stuff, but for the sheer joy of reading, there is nothing like holding a book and reading a well turned phrase. I truly marvel at the skill that some authors have with words and phrases. I would give a lot to have that ability.

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Pywacket 5 years, 1 month ago

I use the library fairly frequently--over the years, I have checked out thousands of nonfiction books on diverse topics, as well as a lot of fiction. I have read every year's edition in the "Best American Short Stories" series (http://www.bestamericanshortstories.com/history/) and many other collections of excellent short stories and plays.

I'd love to own all the books I've checked out but can't afford to buy everything I want to read. I have more books than I have room for at home already.

I totally don't get Joni and Tyger Lily's comments about it being hard to get in or out of the library due to traffic. The only time I've ever had parking trouble is at the height of summer when all the parking spaces are understandably taken by pool goers... Solution? Just park a couple blocks away and walk. How hard is that?

As for the place itself, the building & atmosphere are totally off-putting. The decor (to use that term loosely) appears to be mid-70s drab--is that when it was built? I don't stay at the library to read--I just get my books and leave.

It would be nice (if economic factors were not an issue) to see a new library built--or, ideally, a couple of branches, and to have a more modern approach. A coffee bar and lounge/reading area with inviting colors and decor, modeled after many of today's bookstores, would rock.

It is perfectly reasonable for a public facility maintained by taxpayers to be able to enact and enforce certain basic rules for patrons, such as:

If you stink (from BO, stale cig smoke, perfume, aftershave, Thunderbird vomit, or WHATEVER) so badly that people complain, you must leave. Return when you no longer stink. If you fall asleep you must leave. The library is not a flophouse and that chair is needed by readers or students. If people complain because you are following them, staring at them or their children, or otherwise making patrons feel threatened, you must leave. If you are talking (whether to yourself, others, or on a phone) or making other noise that disturbs others, you must leave.

Such rules do not address the question of whether you have a home or not--thus, they do not discriminate. If someone (employed or otherwise, homeowner or homeless) is so deranged that they don't realize there is a cloud of gagging stench surrounding them, there are public institutions that may be able to help them, and they are not libraries!

No one should have to stifle the gag reflex while trying to find a book. It's ridiculous that anyone should be considered "intolerant" or "uncompassionate" if they complain about someone who reeks to high heaven.

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blue73harley 5 years, 1 month ago

I went there last year when the Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations guys were there. I have a picture with me and the giant ball of video tape.

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tir 5 years, 1 month ago

I often check out popular novels from the public library because I enjoy reading them but I don't really want or need to own a copy myself. It's also a good place to find how-to books or travel books. I usually put in requests for them online and pick them up from the hold shelf and check them out myself. I appreciate the reservation and self-checkout service--it means that I can get in and get out faster and don't have to stand in line.

I confess I don't like spending much time in the public library. I find it rather depressing. Lawrence could really use a new library, as the usage statistics show. I hope that eventually the city will find the funding for it.

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BorderRat 5 years, 1 month ago

The last time I was in the library was when I got a summer job moving the books from the old building to the new one. I must say it smelled fresh and new then.

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KansasPerson 5 years, 1 month ago

We use it just about every week. We've always got books out, and some reserved so that we can get our turn with them when others are finished. Interlibrary loan has worked well for us, too. I just finished my library book for this week and I highly recommend it! ("Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen.)

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dajudge 5 years, 1 month ago

I have a library card that never is any good whenever I go. It's usually too long between visits, so I have to get a new one each time, therefore, I don't go anymore for the hassle of it.

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Donnuts 5 years, 1 month ago

In the past year, no. I used to rather regularly. In fact in 1990 I lived next to the green house at 9th and Kentucky right next to the librarian. I moved there because I did want to be close to the library so I could get close to all the smelly people that use it as a drop in center for homelessness and sneak drinks and sell hookers out of it.

I still relish the days when I was young though and the librarian would read a book every half hour during pool hours on that little hill on the west side of the library. It was quaint with all the other little kids. We only had to wait just a little bit for our story. We could go swing after swimming and listening to a story as well. Ahh the good old days when my parents were not so rich they could afford every book we wanted to hear or read. Saving paper the eco-appropriate politically correct way.

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tyger_lily 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree with Joni, the traffic there was horrible. I have since moved away from Lawrence and visit the local library often.

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The_Original_Bob 5 years, 1 month ago

No, but I have been to the walk-in clinic. They do not have wireless.

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Chris Ogle 5 years, 1 month ago

warm in the winter, cool in summer.... did I mention free

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, but only the children's section. They do have wireless.

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geekin_topekan 5 years, 1 month ago

Agreed Multi!! When you first walk into the library it smells of body funk.Not feet exclusively,but,mildew and armpit. You get used to it after a few minutes though.Then it is not so noticable.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 1 month ago

No, some patrons are too too smelly!

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RoeDapple 5 years, 1 month ago

As a landmark for giving directions

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Norma Jeane Baker 5 years, 1 month ago

Nope. I can sleep and bathe in my own home.

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ohjayhawk 5 years, 1 month ago

I've been to the local library in the past year, but, since I unfortunately have not been in Lawrence since 2001, I'd have to answer no.

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hitme 5 years, 1 month ago

I get all my reading done at the walk-in clinic. Wish they both had wireless.

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