The North Riverside Public Library has a new director.

At a special meeting Monday night the North Riverside Public Library Board of Trustees voted to hire Ted Bodewes as its new director to replace the current, director Robert Lifka who is retiring next month after more than 13 years as the director.

Bodewes, who will be paid $62,000 a year, is currently the head of circulation at the River Forest Public Library. 

Alice Calabrese of Calaberry Consulting, who advised the North Riverside Library board on its search for a new director, is a River Forest Public Library trustee.

Bodewes has worked at the River Forest Public Library since October 2010. He earned his Masters of Library and Information Science form Dominican University in 2010.

Bodewes was named an “emerging leader” in 2012 by the American Library Association. 

Prior to becoming a librarian, Bodewes worked for a little more than eight years in bookstore management positions. He was the general manager of the Borders bookstore in Highland Park for nearly two years from 2007 to 2009 and prior to that was the sales manager as the downtown Chicago Borders for four and a half years. He also served for two years as the general manager of a Waldenbooks store in Kennesaw, Georgia, for two years.

“He’s got management experience,” said Annette Corgiat, the president of the North Riverside Library board. “His interview was very, very good. He had stellar references.” 

Sixteen people applied for the position, and Bodewes was interviewed twice.

“He’s a great strategic planner,” said library board member P.J. Folz. “He has very good plan for the strategic plan for the library and that’s what cemented it for us.”

Folz said that Bodewes will try to draw in those residents who have library cards but don’t use the library. He also wants to upgrade the library’s technology.

Bodewes, who earned a bachelor’s degree in French from Rosary College (now Dominican University) in 1994, will begin his new position on July 14.

“I’m looking to engage the community and to do what we can to make sure that the library reflects the values and the people of North Riverside,” Bodewes told the Landmark on Tuesday. “We want to keep up the good work that’s been done over the past 13 years under the current director, but we’re looking to innovate and to really respond to technology and meet the needs of the community as best we can.”

Lifka, unlike Bodewes, came to the library from the newspaper industry. Lifka, 62, was a longtime Cicero-Berwyn Life editor with no library experience, but he brought leadership and stability to an organization that had gone through two other directors in less than a year.

The library district had a brand new building, but no one to lead it forward. Lifka proved to be that leader, rolling with many of the technological changes since taking the reins in 1999.

Lifka remembered that one of the first things he did was to get rid of the old card catalog in favor of a computer-based system.