Monday, November 24, 2008

Both Feet

There were times when I am quite sure that Cindy Fuerst thought I was crazy. And Steve, the Assistant Director here, and Camille, the Youth Services librarian. And Roland, the Project Next Generation supervisor. Heck, there were times when she probably questioned her own sanity for being the director at such a non-traditional and often quirky library.

For examples....when I said three or four years ago that libraries might want to consider going the route of a then-up-and-coming service called Netflix, but with the focus on books rather than movies - she probably thought I was out to lunch.

When Camille suggested that we start having poetry slams with dozens of junior high school students writing original poetry that may contain (gasp!) actual teen issues (like racism, sex, teen pregnancy and...homework) Cindy mentally weighed the liklihood of angry phone calls from parents or school officials.

When Roland said he'd like to start taking the PNG students on field trips to Chicago, teach them to make and edit their own videos on YouTube, and start buying Macs rather than PCs - Cindy decided to throw caution to the wind.

When Steve encouraged Cindy to let the staff blog and share their actual thoughts (and even complaints) about our very institution to the world...she hesitated, but she jumped in with both feet.

"Jumping in with both feet" is actually a good phrase to describe Cindy's tenure as director of the Kankakee Public Library for the past 13 years. There have been many times over these years that I know she has wondered if we were doing the right thing - exceling in areas that are foreign to most public libraries, and perhaps questioning the value of more traditional library services. There have been times where I am sure she was scared. With any risk, comes a sense of doubt. But she has always led us with pride and optimism because trying something new - even if we are to fail - should be goal of any good public library.

We are now the ones who are going to need to be brave over the coming months, as we will have to continue her legacy here at KPL while she begins a new one at a different library. Cindy will be the new director at the Vernon Hills Area Library in Lincolnshire, Illinois beginning in January of 2009. Vernon Hills is one lucky library, as have we been these past 13 years.

All my best wishes, Cindy! You have made this library, and even this community, what it is today.

Allison Beasley
Adult Services Supervisor