New director to be chosen by library board instead of city manager

Audrey Cheng

Members of the Evanston Library Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to endorse City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz’s proposal to shift the power of appointing a new library director from himself to the board.

Donna Dziedzic, the library’s interim library director, said she declined her Evanston Public Library director nomination because she recently retired from her position as the director of the Naperville Public Library.

Dziedzic’s contract lasts until February, with a potential three-month extension in case the Board of Trustees cannot find a replacement in time. She said she understands the library is at a critical point, so she came out of retirement to help EPL resolve some issues.

“Currently, the combination of the budget and the resolution of the governance issues are the overarching concerns,” Dziedzic said.

Bobkiewicz discussed and emphasized these concerns during the Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday.

He said he believes that although the relationship between the library and the City Council is improving, there are still major issues that need to be addressed.

In between changes in Board of Trustees membership and the appointment of a new library director, there is time for EPL to address budget and governance issues, Bobkiewicz said.

“As far as the library is concerned, it’s the matter of changing the funding matter so that people understand,” he said.

The search for a new director will start Dec. 1. At its last meeting, the Board of Trustees selected an executive search firm that specialized in library directors.

The board hopes the City Council will approve shifting the power to appoint a new library director to them in the next few months so they can finalize the process, Bobkiewicz said.

Todd Ruppenthal, president of the Central Street Business Association, said he was impressed by the library’s initiative in moving its ideas forward.

“This type of government that they’re moving to now, of the library board having the autonomy to create their own budget so that it’s not under the purview of the City Council … allows the people who know most about what’s important to the library to be making decisions,” Ruppenthal said.

Ruppenthal also said he has high expectations for the next library director.

He said he hopes the director will be aware “if the library removes services (library buildings), they are also removing people who are possibly supporting the businesses. All of the effects of the library do affect the business community.”

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