By Anna Lothson
The newly hired executive director of the Oak Park Public Library said he's eager to work in a town with a nationally recognized library.
It was announced last week that the Oak Park Public Library board has selected David Seleb, director of the Indian Trails Library District in Wheeling, as the new executive director.
Seleb, who will start May 1, comes to the position succeeding Dee Brennan, who left at the end of the year to work for the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS). Seleb, a lifelong Chicago resident, embraces technology changes in libraries and said he is ready to listen from and learn about what the community wants from its library.
"I am very excited to be coming to Oak Park," he said in a Monday phone interview. "I'm very honored. The library is a wonderful institution."
Seleb comes to Oak Park with almost 25 years of experience working in libraries and library organizations. Oak Park is the fourth library where he'll be the director. He said he's ready to embrace the challenges libraries face, including how to deliver a variety of services to different types of users. This also means balancing traditional media with e-books and developing libraries as centers of learning even more than they already are today.
According to a library news release sent out last week, Celeb brings "solid leadership, experience, and vision for human-centered library services to Oak Park."
"I am thrilled and honored to be named the new executive director of the Oak Park Public Library, a library recognized nationally for its commitment to service, innovation, and customer service," Seleb wrote. "I look forward to building on the library's tradition of excellence, delivering services and programs with the widest possible appeal in the most creative and fiscally responsible ways."
He has directed the Indian Trails Library District, based in Wheeling, since November 2011. He worked for four years prior to that as director of the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District.
Seleb said the character of Oak Park is similar to those two communities, which is one reason he was drawn to the position. He finds diverse communities with diverse needs exciting.
What first attracted him to working in libraries was having the ability to affect people's lives, he said. He sees value in what a library can do for a community and understands its vital role.
"Members of a community depend deeply on their local library," he said. "It has become such a central point in the life of a community."
Celeb also served as director of the Blue Island Public Library and director of consulting and continuing education with the Metropolitan Library System. He also has an active role in the Illinois Library Association
He has 13 years of library management experience under his belt, earned his master's degree in Library and Information Science from Dominican University in 1995, and his bachelor's degree from Saint Xavier University in 1989.
Library board President Lane Hart explained in a note to library staff that the board was drawn to Seleb's track record of leadership and his vision for human-centered library services.
"The library board was determined to find a candidate committed to serving the community and building upon what the staff has accomplished to date," Hart wrote in the release. "Through a national search, the board chose David for his vision, focus on customer service and staff development, fiscal expertise, and experience in libraries of similar size and complexity."
Rebecca Teasdale will remain the library's interim executive director through April 30, returning to her library leadership role as assistant director for public services and programs.