We began collaborating with community partners, leading to ongoing initiatives in restorative justice, multicultural programming, and opportunities for teens in social justice, leadership, and college and career readiness.

The Board of Library Trustees approved new policies to go fine free and remove meeting room fees for nonprofit organizations. Why? Fines and fees “are a regressive method of raising revenue,” said Executive Director David J. Seleb. “They hurt the most those who can afford them the least. They keep people away from the library, … Read more

As part of rethinking how the library engages with all its patrons, Manager Rob Simmons put together a Community Resources team with full-time Community Resources Specialist Stephen Jackson and four part-time Safety and Security Monitors. Later renamed the Social Services and Safety Team, the team prioritized respect and dignity, using referral-based outreach to benefit vulnerable … Read more

The Dole Branch Library became the new home to Oak Park’s Multicultural Collection. Oak Park Elementary School District 97 transferred ownership of the collection, which was nearly 30 years in the making, to the library because its thousands of unique artifacts, books, and films had outgrown available school space. As the new steward, the library … Read more

Joining a handful of public libraries with similar social services-based positions, the library developed a new role to provide services for the most vulnerable patrons experiencing challenges such as homelessness and access to mental health support. Rob Simmons joined the library as Manager for Community Resources (later becoming Director of Social Services and Public Safety).

The library’s associate director and two librarians attended Harwood practitioner training, discovering how aspirations and public knowledge can help reframe discussions, enlist allies, develop strategies, and align actions. Staff dug more deeply into shared themes from first impressions, gathering with area groups to learn more about diversity, inclusion, participation, equity, education, and learning in Oak … Read more

Across Oak Park’s first round of library-led Community Conversations, common themes emerged: Diversity, Inclusion, Participation, and Equity Economy Education and Learning Health, Safety, Livability Read more about these common themes »

Executive Director David Seleb was introduced to the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and adopted their “turning outward” approach for the library. Over the next year, he hosted a series of Community Conversations with participants from different age groups, races, sexes, and educational and socioeconomic levels. The conversations used a specific set of questions designed … Read more