Oak Park Public Library has created a full-time position to oversee its growing archive of historic artifacts, including material from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park and other notable local figures like Frank Lloyd Wright.
The library announced this week that it named Leigh A. Tarullo to serve as curator for special collections.
Tarullo had been assistant manager of adult and teen services and part-time special collections curator since 2009. Alexandra Skinner, who has worked as a reference librarian in Oak Park since 2012, will take over in the adult and teen services position. The library also plans to hire a full-time archivist later this year.
“Our strategic priority of stewardship in part calls for the care and curation of our community’s history, historic artifacts and local content,” library executive director David J. Seleb said in a press release. “With this appointment, Leigh will focus her time and energy on that important work.”
The special collections archive also includes rare editions, correspondence, photographs and other material from Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Carol Shields and Oak Park photo-historian Philander Barclay.
Tarullo said the position adds to the momentum started with an $86,900 grant from Illinois Secretary of State (and State Librarian) Jesse White in 2015 to digitize material from both the library and The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park. That archive includes “rarely seen snapshots, family scrapbooks, school assignments and mementos illustrating the early lives of Ernest and his older sister Marcelline Hemingway,” according to the library.
“It’s so important for Oak Parkers to have access to the information and stories of our past, ones that encourage and support our local experience,” Tarullo said. “It’s important for us to see that the Hemingways were real people and that their experience in this community is a lasting part of our shared local heritage.
“We’re all getting a richer, deeper understanding of who Ernest Hemingway was, as a son, a brother, a student and a boy in early 20th-century Oak Park.”
Tarullo said she hopes to expand the archive by building the library’s relationship with The Historical Society of Oak Park-River Forest, the Illinois Digital Archives, the Digital Public Library of America and Chicago Collections.