Libraries Are Magical Places, Says Warren-Newport Director

By Olive, Steven | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 11, 2016 | Go to article overview

Libraries Are Magical Places, Says Warren-Newport Director


Olive, Steven, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Steven Olive Daily Herald correspondent

Magical places do exist, just ask Ryan Livergood.

The executive director of the Warren-Newport Public Library in Gurnee has worked various jobs in his life, but he thinks libraries are special.

"Libraries are the most magical place in every community, because if you think about it, any person that walks through the doors of the library, regardless of his or her circumstances, is empowered to change his or her life for the better," he said.

Livergood joined Warren-Newport library roughly a year ago when he replaced longtime executive director Stephen Bero, who retired.

His route to Gurnee started in the small southern Illinois town of Findlay, about 60 miles southeast of Springfield, where he grew up. After receiving his bachelor's degree in business from Florida Southern College, wanderlust took him to China for a year. There, he taught English to Chinese schoolchildren.

During his free time one day, he read an article about how libraries are evolving to make a positive impact on peoples' lives. That was the spark that prompted Livergood to want to become a librarian. Once back in the United States, he returned to school to get his master's degree in library science and information at the University of Illinois-Champaign in 2012.

Before arriving at Warren-Newport, Livergood was director of libraries in Arlington, Massachusetts for nearly three years. Among the differences he's seen between libraries on the East Coast and the Midwest are that Illinois libraries are newer, better laid out and have adequate space.

For example, Livergood said the Robbins Library in Arlington, Massachusetts, is gorgeous, but it was built in 1892 and lacked adequate space.

To help remedy that, Livergood said he installed a vending machine that dispenses computer laptops. The gamble hit the jackpot, as patrons were receptive to the service that was an alternative to desktop computers.

Because of his ingenuity and success with the vending machine idea, Livergood was featured in an article in the June 2014 edition of Library Journal.

Although the Warren-Newport Public Library has plenty of space and probably won't need a laptop vending machine, it was that type of creative problem solving that helped Livergood land the job in Gurnee, officials said.

"Ryan stood out in the search process as someone who embraces new ideas while also placing a high value on community," Warren-Newport library board President Jo Beckwith said. …

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