February 2, 2024: Statement from the Board of Library Trustees

The Board of Library Trustees acknowledges there have been multiple examples of damage caused to the Oak Park area community, to our community partners, and to members of the Oak Park Public Library staff, and that we have much work to do to rebuild the broken trust. We apologize for the relationships that have been compromised during our tenure as a board, we take accountability for this harm in our community, and we thank the community for your patience while we work on best steps toward repairs.

All seven trustees of the Oak Park Public Library Board are grateful for everyone who attended the Tuesday, February 27 library board meeting, and everyone who has sent their thoughts to us in other ways. We are all deeply affected not only by the sheer number of those that reached out, but also by the resounding call to mend strained relationships between Oak Park Public Library leadership and members of library staff, members of our community, and community partners (specifically those that organized the event, A Day of Celebration of Palestinian Culture, and the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library). We stand ready to repair those relationships. We also intend to honor our shared commitment to restorative justice in our pursuit of this reparative work.

It is important that we proceed with thoughtfulness and intention so that we can be confident that the steps we take next are in service of true and meaningful change. We also appreciate that, at the same time, there is an urgent and growing concern about Oak Park Public Library’s ability to maintain the standards of excellence, openness, and equity that it is known for. We are trying to balance both this deliberativeness and urgency as we determine the best ways to move forward.

While we are still working on our full plan forward, the board has initiated some steps.

  • We are pursuing a process to open avenues for anonymous staff feedback through an external service provider. We are doing this to include staff voices in our evaluation process of leadership.
  • We have extended the timeline of our evaluation process to include this input.
  • Board leadership held a conversation with staff leadership on Wednesday, February 28 about specific restorative practices expectations.
  • We are also considering how the board can meet our commitment to accountability to the community. We will be setting a special board meeting between now and our next regular board meeting to continue our steps forward in service to our community.

We recognize the engagement of the community and staff as an expression of love for our library and our community as well as voicing high expectations of our library. We on the board share those sentiments. Please continue to hold us accountable, as we do our due diligence to understand and take action on these critical matters at hand. We welcome your comments sent to board@oppl.org.