The Not So Quiet Librarian


A Super Duper story HERE on the new director of the Detroit Public Library

Maurice Wheeler is the first African-American male to head the 135-year-old institution. At 41, he\'s also the youngest. And while many of the previous directors were bespectacled, the new director\'s glasses are decidedly hip.

\"I think we should be providing services that excite people,\" Wheeler says. \"This is not going to be the library of the past where you had to be afraid that the librarian would shush you. We want the library to be a social place. A place where everyone belongs.\"

Wheeler, who served as a librarian at the University of Michigan and as the Detroit Public Library\'s deputy director before taking the head post in December 1996, envisions quadrupling the size of the Children\'s Library. The new space will include a puppet stage, a storytelling space and \"tons and tons of books\" for the 300,000 children who visit the main branch yearly.

But before that can happen, other departments will have to make way. The changes, including turning the video section into a coffee shop and a gift shop with new and used books, will cost $4 million. Money, says Wheeler, that will be well spent.

\"We were working so hard to keep the doors open that the kind of innovative services -- the glitzy, sexy stuff that people are attracted to -- were simply not priorities for us,\" says the Georgia native.

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