Arlington's libraries are losing a director with "an inexhaustible fund of ideas," the leader of the library trustees says.

Ryan Livergood's "idea of a library is that it’s a magical place that will transform all ages -- an idea that I subscribe to," said Chair Katharine Fennelly.

To be nearer extended family in Illinois, Ryan Livergood will be leaving Arlington's libraries at a date to be determined. He has been the director since April 2012.

He is trading in his director of libraries' position here to be executive director of the Warren-Newport Public Library District, in Gurnee, Ill. North of Chicago, it has a Six Flag and is home to a number of Chicago Bears. Arlington has about 42,000 people; Gurnee had 30,772 in 2005.

"I believe everyone in Arlington has access to one of the best library systems in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," he wrote Wednesday, Oct. 1, after Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine announced Livergood was leaving. "Both the gorgeous Robbins Library and the thriving Fox Branch Library offer amazing collections, programs and services provided by a library staff second to none.

"This is all made possible through the support of the town and so many individuals and organizations in our community. Arlington is such a special community because so many residents generously volunteer their valuable time to make it better. Many of these amazing residents are involved with organizations that greatly help the Libraries, including the Arlington Libraries Foundation, the Friends of the Robbins Library and the Friends of Fox Library.

Asked when he leaving, he wrote that he will continue serving as library director in Arlington for at least the next several weeks to assist with the transition process.

Chapdelaine said in his announcement: "Ryan pursued this position as both a professional opportunity and as a chance to relocate closer to family and friends. I am very happy for Ryan as this is a tremendous personal and professional opportunity for him, but I am sad for Arlington, as I know he will be missed by all who have had the good fortune of working with him.

"We will plan to begin a recruitment to replace Ryan in the near future."

Asked what his relatively brief tenure has meant for the town's libraries, Fennelly wrote:

"Libraries stagnate when they are treated as museums. Ryan came to Arlington with an inexhaustible fund of ideas, a lot of energy and enthusiasm and good will.  His idea of a library is that it’s a magical place that will transform all ages -- an idea that I subscribe to.

"Recently the Board of Trustees approved of a long-range plan that Ryan and the library staff has been working on for several months. All plans are bound by physical space and funding, but this one captures the essence and spirit of our libraries and what we (patrons, staff) would like to see in the future.

"Libraries are not just about books, but all kinds of media, using all kinds of devices; and they are about people who want to join with others around ideas or discover new worlds."

She provided two examples of his ideas for the future -- to set up a bee hive on a third-floor balcony so that all ages can watch bee activity live or on a videocam. Another is reusing library space so that small groups can gather and collaborate.

"And for those who can’t physically come to the library — why not bring it to them?

"What made all this work is Ryan himself. He has an engaging personality, a genuine love of libraries and people, a spirit of cooperation and a really good intellect.

"We have been blessed, over the last 30 years with library directors who worked hard to make our libraries superb."

During Livergood's tenure, he oversaw matters both serious and humorous.

This year Robbins Library began offering movies, television shows, music albums and audiobooks, all available for mobile and online access through a new partnership with hoopla digital (

On the lighter side, Livergood no doubt became the first Arlington library director to dress up as Clifford the Dog after he lost a bet.

In 2013, the library received three awards, including one for the Open Book column that appears in The Advocate, started by Livergood and Rebecca Meehan.

Livergood began in Arlington as the assistant director in August 2011. Before coming to Arlington, he served as the assistant library director in Dover and was the assistant branch manager in the Miami-Dade Public Library System.

Livergood holds a bachelor's in business administration from Florida Southern College and a master's in library and information science from the University of Illinois. He is a member of the New England Library Association.

Related links

Livergood's blog >>

May 10, 2013: Robbins Library hits a triple in public relations

April 5, 2012: New Council on Aging chief, library director named

This story was published Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014.