Library Dean set to retire at end of month

Mary Ellen Greenburg, Reporter

Allen Lanham, dean of Library Services at the Booth Library, is set to retire at the end of June.

Lanham has worked at Eastern for 26 years and has  been considering retiring for two. He said the decision to retire came because of Illinois’ financial state, his age and so he can have time to himself.

People need experience and retiring will give someone else a chance to move up and emerge as a leader, Lanham said.

Beth Heldebrandt, public relations director for the Booth Library, said Bradley Tolppanen, currently head of the circulation desk, will be taking over as interim dean. She said though Toplppanen is more than capable, he has big shoes to fill.

“Tolppanen is respected and knowledgeable in the library community,and he has worked with most of the librarians and the heads of the departments within the library for years,” she said.

Heldebrandt said Lanham is a good leader who always has an open door.

Lanham was behind major renovations for the library and many of the big projects, she said.

“He works hard at keeping it updated, making it a second home for students and making it as welcoming as possible,” Heldebrandt said. “He always has the library open for school holidays so that the international students and the students that cannot go home have a quiet, inviting place to study or spend time together.”

Though Lanham said retiring now was the right decision, he admitted that the timing is difficult.

It will be hard to separate from a place that has became like home to him, Lanham added.

“The choice for a library profession was a wonderful choice,” Lanham said. “Librarians are really great people and you always learn something new every day.”

What Lanham will miss are the people he works with.  He said the success of a library involves many people and organizations.

With more free time after he retires, Lanham plans to continue traveling to new locations.

Having already been to over 70 countries, he said he is looking forward to visiting India, Australia and New Zealand for the first time.

Lanham said his favorite location to visit has always been Brazil because it has an ever-changing culture.

“Get out and see the world, it changes constantly. What you saw 30 years ago will have changed, so go back and what you see now will have changed in the next 30 years,” Lanham said.

Mary Ellen Greenburg can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].