A little more than two years after taking the reins of the North Riverside Public Library, Director Ted Bodewes is headed elsewhere.
On Aug. 8, the Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Western Springs announced it had hired Bodewes as its director, effective Oct. 1. Bodewes confirmed in an interview with the Landmark that his last day in North Riverside will be Sept. 12.
“It’s difficult, because I’ve enjoyed being here in North Riverside,” Bodewes said.
The Thomas Ford Memorial Library, founded in 1925 in honor of a man whose family donated the land and paid for the construction of the building, is Western Springs’ public library.
Bodewes said the opportunity to come to a larger community and lead a larger library organization was attractive.
“It’s really the next step for me professionally,” Bodewes said.
Bodewes said he learned about the Western Springs opening in late June when Anne Kozak, who has been the Ford Library’s director for 30 years, announced she was retiring effective Sept. 30.
When he came to North Riverside, Bodewes also replaced a longtime director, Robert J. Lifka, who had led the organization for a little more than 13 years.
Annette Corgiat, the president of the North Riverside Public Library District board, said she is sorry to see Bodewes leave and that he’s had a big impact on library operations and planning in his two-plus years.
“He’s leaving us in a very good spot for another person to come in and pick up where he left off,” Corgiat said.
Bodewes shuffled library employees’ roles to best suit the organization, oversaw the installation of a new phone system and a major renovation of employees’ offices to make them more efficient.
He also took charge of a strategic planning process and a capital improvement reserve study, which led the library district to seek a referendum in March to establish a fund to be used for improvements and repairs to the almost 20-year-old library building.
It was the first time Bodewes had been involved in a referendum campaign, and it turned out to be a learning experience for him.
The referendum was defeated at the polls by a 56 to 44 percent margin. In the aftermath, the library board and Bodewes agreed that the organization didn’t communicate its message very well.
“A referendum is a really big project and one in which information needs to be communicated to the community in great detail,” Bodewes said.
However, the referendum defeat didn’t play a role in Bodewes seeking greener pastures.
“Absolutely not,” Bodewes said when questioned whether the referendum result influenced his decision to leave.
The library board has posted the job opening and has hired Alice Calabrese of Calaberry Consulting to lead the search for a new director. Calabrese also led the search process that brought Bodewes to North Riverside.
The North Riverside Public Library board will be accepting applications for the post until Sept. 15. The posted salary being offered is “$60,000+”; when Bodewes’ was hired, his annual salary was $62,000.