Having overseen a physical expansion of the Davenport Public Library system that included two new buildings, retiring director LaWanda Roudebush sees future growth on a more virtual level.
Roudebush, whose last day will be Jan. 31, heard gushing comments of praise from aldermen at Wednesday’s Davenport City Council meeting. An open house and reception for her will be 4-6 p.m. Sunday at the Fairmount Branch Library.
As director since 2003, Roudebush’s tenure includes opening the branches on Fairmount Street and Eastern Avenue and renovations at the main library downtown.
City Administrator Craig Malin called Roudebush “a dynamo,” but added that she emphasized literacy and made access to information substantially easier for Davenport residents well into the future.
“The world is made anew each time a child opens a book, and LaWanda’s leadership in expanding Davenport’s library system will inspire and empower generations far into the future,” Malin said.
Alderman Bill Edmond recalled that when he met Roudebush after he was elected to the council, she learned he didn’t have a library card and immediately got him registered. Some 35 percent of Davenport residents had library cards when Roudebush arrived in 2003. That number is now 50 percent.
Last month, the library board of trustees named Amy Groskopf, associate director of resources, as interim director while searching for a permanent director. The board plans to interview four candidates over the next two weeks and hopes to extend an offer by the end of the month, said Ken Croken, who heads the board’s search committee.
Libraries have long embraced technology, and staying ahead of how to use it to provide information will continue and expand, Roudebush said.
“It isn’t just the technology, but how the technology is used and how the staff helps them and instructs them on that information,” she said. “I think that is going to continue.”
While electronic books are making inroads, paper-and-glue books still rule, Roudebush said.
Meanwhile, the library is seeking to distribute information via social media through Facebook, Twitter and several blogs on the library’s website, davenportlibrary.com.
She also sees library funding as a future issue. She points to a number of grants that have helped fund programs used in Davenport.
“We need to make sure we have the continued support of our community so we have the funding available to us,” she said.