WSW: Kalamazoo Library's Director Says It's "More Than Books"

Oct 4, 2017

Kalamazoo Public Library - file photo
Credit WMUK

Ryan Wieber says any library wherever it is tries to serve its community. On August first, he became director of the Kalamazoo Public Library.

The former director of the Otsego District Library and the Van Buren District Library, Wieber was hired to replace Ann Rohrbaugh, who retired after 45 years with the Kalamazoo Library.

A native of Lansing, who attended Lansing Community College before transferring to Western Michigan University, Wieber earned a bachelor’s degree in public history. But when he couldn’t find the job or career path, he was looking for, Wieber went to Wayne State University where he eventually earned a Master’s Degree.

Kalamazoo Public Library Director Ryan Wieber
Credit WMUK

Wieber’s main interest was in history. But in 1999 as his family was growing, Wieber and his wife who is from the Kalamazoo area, decided they wanted to live on the west side of the state. Wieber’s first job at a public library was as director of the Otsego District Library. In 2013 he became director of the Van Buren District Library.

The library is still a place where Wieber says people wlll come to check out a book. But he says that changes year by year, and even “month by month.” Wieber says people are relying more on the convenience of digital materials, both audio and books.

Despite the many changes, Wieber says people still read. He says mobile devices make books easier to access. For many people Wieber says taking a book and turning it page by page is “a foreign idea.” But he says the library has to show young families and kids how important reading is, not just for homework, or completing an assignment but also for pleasure.

Wieber says he hears every day about how much people love the Kalamazoo Public Library. But he says the library is not reaching everybody. Wieber says they need to work on removing barriers whether they are cultural, language-related or a fear that they have run a big tab by not returning materials on time. Wieber says the library is always willing to work with someone who owes fines for overdue materials.