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‘Visionary’ library director to retire Sept. 1


The man who served as a catalyst for the $85 million expansion and renovation of the Allen County Public Library has decided to travel a new road.

Jeff Krull, director of the library, announced Thursday he will retire Sept. 1.

Krull, 66, was hired in 1986 and has worked as director for 28 years, overseeing operations in the main library, its 13 branches and the Genealogy Center.

Krull, who earned his master’s of library science from the State University of New York in Buffalo in 1974, was director of the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library in Ohio before being hired here. He also spent two years as head librarian at Ohio University’s Chillicothe campus.

He was named The Journal Gazette’s Citizen of the Year in 2007 and a “Sagamore of the Wabash” by the late Gov. Frank O’Bannon in 2001.

“It was a tough decision,” Krull told library board members and employees Thursday.

“This has been a dream job for any librarian. The board is visionary and supportive, and the staff has been great.”

Several board members choked up while thanking Krull for his leadership throughout the years.

“Jeff has been an exemplary leader and ambassador, not only for our library, but for all of Fort Wayne,” board President Martin Seifert said. “His work and vision have led to a vigorously active and fiscally strong library for all the citizens of Allen County.”

Krull put together a strong management team – one of the best in the state – and has been a strong advocate of libraries in general and the ACPL in particular, Seifert said.

The board formed an executive committee made up of Seifert, Vice President Alan McMahan and secretary Paul Moss. The committee will interview and hire an executive search firm to find Krull’s replacement, Seifert said.

“As we move forward in our search, we are proud to have such a strong example of the attributes we will be seeking in our new director,” Seifert said. “The future is bright for our library, in large part because of Jeff’s leadership, and we want to ensure that legacy for all of us.”

Krull will stay active in the community, but he and his wife, Alice, want to spend more time with family members in other states, he said.

He likes to garden and cook and is considering volunteering as a reader for the Northeast Indiana Radio Reading Service, a free service for people who are blind or have a visual or reading impairment.

But mostly he plans to slow down and relax. The death of Krull’s 97-year-old mother last year caused him to pause and reflect on his life, he said.

“It got me to thinking of how quickly time passes,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful career and a wonderful place to be, but now it’s time to move in a different direction.”

Although Krull said he does not like to “toot his own horn,” some of the highlights of his tenure include:

•Expansion – The project increased the main library space to 367,000 square feet and added computer labs, the Jeffrey R. Krull Art gallery, a café, a bookstore, a theater and an underground parking garage. The project did not come without headaches, however. Dissent came in the form of a remonstrance in 2001; more than 13,000 homeowners opposed the project. The remonstrance was defeated by more than 21,000 supporters.

•Two new branches – Aboite and Dupont – opened in 1990.

•Technology – The first computerization project was implemented in 1987 and new formats have been introduced to patrons since then, including DVD, Blu-ray, downloadable music and audio books, ebooks and streaming video. ACPL has digitized, preserved and provided access to millions of books, documents, photographs and periodicals. The library collaborated with TekVenture and the first high-tech Maker Labs for public use were introduced in 2013.

•Usage – Circulation of materials increased from 2.8 million in 1986 to 10.7 million in 2013. Even with the advent of ebooks and digitized books, attendance at all library locations increased from 2 million in 1995 to 2.6 million in 2013.

•Genealogy Center – The center houses the Fred J. Reynolds Historical Genealogical Collection and is the second-largest genealogical research library in the country, drawing visitors from every state and numerous countries every year. The periodicals source index, the world’s only index to genealogical periodicals, was developed and introduced in 1987.

•Lincoln Collection – In 2009, the library secured custody of the documents and photographs of the Lincoln Museum after it closed.

•ACPL Foundation – Initiated by a campaign to raise $1.5 million in private contributions in 1987, the foundation today has assets of nearly $14 million and is one of the largest public library foundations in the country.