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New White Plains Library Director Starts

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Brian Kenney has spent the last decade as a journalist, watching reader preference slowly shift from print to digital media. Former editorial director of the Library Journal, the School Library Journal and The Horn Book, he has left the library trade magazines to explore libraries' "watershed moment" to work the bookshelves as the White Plains Public Library’s new director.

“I wanted to get back into libraries because I found myself writing and reporting a lot on the transition from print readership to digital readership – not that it’s a great migration – and examining libraries’ changing roles,” said Kenney, who worked at the Brooklyn Public Library for nearly a decade. “In writing about these issues. I had this nagging desire to be back in a library working on figuring out what libraries mean and where their future is going.”

Kenney, 52, a Queens resident, first visited the White Plains Library as a journalist when The Trove children’s library opened in 2005.

“I remember thinking in my mind how great it would be to work there,” said Kenney. “After spending 20 odd years as a New York City librarian, I’ve always known White Plains has one of the best libraries in the area.”

On Nov. 14, Kenney returned to the White Plains Public Library as its director. He anticipates spending time to figure out the various communities that use the library, assessing what services these patrons use, and “remaining vigilant” in monitoring library users’ needs.

He will also be finalizing the library’s "ground floor master plan” redesign, which calls for creating a teen library space called The Edge.

“The Trove has certainly brought up a generation or a couple of generations and kept them engaged with the library,” said Kenney. “When the kids become 12 or 13, they’ve got their own informational and developmental needs and that’s what this space is all about.”

He envisions The Edge as a very technology-centric space where teens can “create and not just consume” information, possibly in a studio. Kenney also hopes to enhance adults’ library experience in the redesign by creating a more inviting atmosphere, potentially with a cafe and nearby new book selection.

Kenney said he’s “thrilled” to be working with a “supportive” City Hall, Library Foundation, Library Board of Trustees, Friends of the Libraries and staff as libraries across the nation “work to recreate themselves.”

“It’s a watershed moment in a lot of ways,” Kenney said of most libraries’ budget challenges, growing e-book collections, and rising membership numbers. “Libraries’ numbers are just skyrocketing – the number of people who have cards and the number of people who stop by.”

What would you like to see considered in the first floor redesign? Join the conversation below.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story indicated that Brian Kenney is the new executive director of the White Plains Public Library, however, he is the director.

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