Library Executive Director Karen Danczak Lyons announces retirement

Library Executive Director Karen Danczak Lyons announces retirement
Written by Publishing Team

The Evanston Public Library announced Friday that, after a decade serving Evanston’s library patrons, Executive Director Karen Danczak Lyons will be stepping down from her post.

Danczak Lyons said that with several initiatives around the library recently completed and new initiatives on the horizon, the timing was right for her transition and for new leadership. Her final day will be June 17, 2022.

Evanston Public Library Executive Director Karen Danczak Lyons is set to retire in June. (Photo via EPL YouTube)

“I believe that part of being a leader is knowing when to leave and make space for what’s next,” Danczak Lyons said. “I am proud of the work we have accomplished together under my leadership, and I want to allow for a smooth to ensure our important work continues.”

During Danczak Lyons’ tenure as executive director, the Evanston Public Library adopted a new vision and business model for the library that goes beyond the walls of library buildings and book stacks to engage and resource residents where they live and gather.

That vision has meant expanding and bringing new, innovative services to Evanston, from lending technology like Wi-Fi hotspots and job search tech kits to bridge the digital divide, to expanding virtual programming and digital offerings in response to the pandemic and the community’s changing needs , to hiring a library social worker to connect the city’s most vulnerable residents to community resources.

The library has also concentrated on refocusing its work and decision-making processes through an equity lens. That includes opening a branch in the Robert Crown Community Center with an emphasis on developing programming for underserved residents and Spanish-speaking patrons, evaluating options for a branch in the Fifth Ward, a more diverse pipeline talent of librarians with tuition reimbursement and new designed positions to engage underrepresented communities, eliminating overdue fines to reduce barriers to access and adopting an equity statement and a transitioning policy as declarations of the library’s values.

Danczak Lyons said she is also proud of the work the library has done to strengthen partnerships throughout the Evanston community and engage residents more deeply through listening community sessions and an asset-based community development model.

“Our biggest asset in this community is our talented, passionate community members, from our patrons, to our partners, volunteers, donors, and especially our staff,” Danczak Lyons said. “It has truly been an honor to work alongside you to meet the ever-changing needs of our residents.”

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