The River Forest Public Library is operating at such a pleasant pitch, so engaged with so many constituencies in the village, that it is hard to remember a time not so long ago when that was not the case.
Sophia Anastos, for eight years the director of the library, is going on disability leave this month. A search for a replacement will likely begin soon.
We believe in the power of leadership. Not top-down leadership where decisions and dictums are handed down from on high. But a kind of leadership that empowers staff members and stakeholders to feel ownership and engagement, leadership that helps articulate an aspirational vision that others choose to follow.
And that is the kind of leader Sophia Anastos has been in River Forest. She arrived with a depleted staff, a building with immediate needs and not much oomph beyond opening the doors and turning on the lights.
Now the library is welcoming to all residents and by that we mean, yes, even the middle-schoolers. In fact, this segment of the population now has its own designated area for those critical after-school hours.
The needs and desires of other groups have also been recognized with more digital services and training, informal ways to gather in community, a goal of becoming the center of the wider River Forest community.
Sue Quinn, now the library’s interim director, extolled Anastos’ style of empowering leadership. “Her default answer was yes,” said Quinn. A good place to start.