In the culmination of two extended search processes, Oak Park this week has a new executive director for its public libraries and a fully staffed village board with the appointment of a replacement for Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla, who resigned for reasons of health.

The search for a new head librarian to replace the departed David Seleb has been basically excruciating. Seleb retired from the library in February and the library’s governing board has bumped its way through two search firms, taken on the final leg of the hiring process directly and wound up with a person who seems to fully reflect the library’s mission-driven job description.

Joslyn Bowling Dixon will arrive in Oak Park next month — a return to Oak Park actually — from her post as director of the seven public libraries in Newark, New Jersey. She has her master’s in library science from our own Dominican University so that checks a box the library, in its out-of-the-box rhetoric, initially said was not a prerequisite for an appointment.

Also notable, Dixon has exceptional experience in all aspects of equity and diversity work and understands the role of such perspective in reshaping public libraries as community-building institutions. She has played a national role in that work through the American Library Association.

Credit to Reesheda Graham Washington, head of search firm number two, for bringing Dixon to the board’s attention.

Meanwhile Cory Wesley has joined Oak Park’s village board via his unanimous approval by that board after his nomination by Village President Vicki Scaman. Wesley lost narrowly to Walker-Peddakotla in the 2019 election but has doubled down on his community involvement since. In addition to serving on a commission, he has also become chair of the critical Oak Park Economic Development Corporation board.

Wesley is widely respected and the early line from a range of Oak Park activists and leaders reflects a positive response to his appointment. Also a plus that he told Wednesday Journal he intends to run for a full-term in April 2023.

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