The Oak Park Public Library has become a genuine community hub, with a spectacular building, now nearly 10 years old, that draws residents like a beacon. The public library is in transition following the departure of director Dee Brennan. And the only portion of the building that hasn't earned rave reviews, the entryway lobby, is due for a major redesign this year.
Because this is a period of transition for this critical institution, board members need to be savvy enough to understand the increasingly important role technology plays in information services while still defending and maintaining print resources. They also must have a feel for the sociological dimension — the fact that those needing shelter frequent the library, as do sometimes rowdy kids after school. In other words, this is a multigenerational institution and board members need to be sensitive to residents' changing needs.
To help the library navigate this period of transition, we endorse two incumbents and two newcomers, two of whom are seniors and two of whom are younger adults: Matt Baron, Win Fox, Matt Fruth and Bruce Samuels. Fruth and Samuels are the incumbents, who have proven themselves and earned another term. Both are knowledgeable and thoughtful in adopting their positions. Baron and Fox, meanwhile, bring something unique to the board table. Fox is a retired librarian with considerable knowledge of the field and plenty of enthusiasm. Baron has a journalism and public relations background, is smart and creative, and would prove a valuable resource in communicating with the community at large. Fruth and Baron are younger, and that perspective strongly needs to be represented. Fox and Samuels are more experienced, but both embrace the importance of keeping up with technology.
Doug Kittredge is also a very capable candidate with considerable corporate management and marketing experience.
He would make a fine addition to the board, and, if not elected this time, we hope he runs again.