Back row, from left: Pat Koko, Russ Glidden, Joslyn Bowling Dixon, Barbara Taranowski; front row: Paul Koko and Chet Taranowski. | PROVIDED

At our first board meeting after this summer’s Annual Book Fair, the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library formally thanked and honored one of our most dedicated members, Paul Koko!

After 45 years of service, Paul, a longtime member and officer, will step down from the Friends’ board of directors.

Paul’s name is the first on a new plaque to be prominently displayed near the entrance to the Main Library, honoring important people in the history of the Friends.

Paul’s first encounter with the Friends occurred many years ago as he was riding his bicycle past a tent in Scoville Park and he noticed lively activities occurring.

His curiosity was sparked as he stopped to see what was going on. This was one of the earliest Friends book sales conducted in Oak Park. Ever since, Paul has been hooked and, with his wife Pat, has played a key role in helping organize and facilitate book sales for the last 40 years.

Paul was a specialist in organizing audio recordings and selecting music for the book sorters to listen to during their labors, whereas Pat is the mavin of foreign language publications.

Among his contributions, Paul was a regular representative of the Friends in A Day in Our Village activities. He served two terms as vice president of the Friends.

He has many stories, like the time the volunteers had to climb through windows at the Oak Park and River Forest High School Field House because the walk to the front door was too long. He refers to many names, such as Maryann Marks, who was president of the Friends for many years, and Phil Berman, who stepped in as president after her.

The book sale was held at several sites in years past, most notably the high school, but also in the cloisters at Calvary Memorial Church.

After all this time there have only been two years when the sale was not held, and this was due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the summer of 2022, the sale returned and was a great success.

Jodi Kolo
For the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library

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