The Forest Park Public Library Board of Trustees chose Vicki Rakowski, current executive director of the northwest suburban Barrington Area Library District, as the library’s new chief. 

The board made its selection during a Dec. 3 closed session meeting, but because they couldn’t vote during a closed session, the selection had to be formally made during the Dec. 12 regular board meeting. Rakowski will earn $97,000 a year, and some other contract details will still need to be negotiated. She will officially take the position on Jan. 23, 2023, with interim director Sue Quinn staying on through January to help with the transition. 

The appointment represents something of a homecoming for Rakowski, who began her library career at the Forest Park Public Library a little over 14 years ago. In a press release shared with the Review ahead of the vote, the trustees said they chose her because of her experience, empathy and “self-awareness.” 

The library has been looking for a new director since Pilar Shaker, the library director since 2016, announced on Sept. 1 that she would resign effective Oct. 28. She has since become the Director of Partnerships at DASH Creative Strategy public relations firm. 

Rakowski earned a Master of Library and Information Science from Dominican University in River Forest. She began her library career as the youth services reference assistant at the Forest Park library, where she worked from September 2008 to July 2009. Rakowski went on to work in the Lisle Library District and LaGrange Public Library, both in the west suburbs.

In 2017, she became head of the operations department in Barrington Area Library District, which collectively serves all or parts of 17 municipalities (five of which have “Barrington” in their name) across four different counties in the northwest suburbs. This represented her longest stint in a single library system thus far. Rakowski continued in this role until February 2021, when she was promoted to the library’s executive director. 

Rakowski was chosen from a field of 17 candidates, with the Forest Park library board interviewing the two finalists during the Dec. 3 meeting. 

The trustees didn’t discuss the selection during the Dec. 12 meeting, but the press release indicated that “Rakowski’s experience and empathy” was a deciding factor.

“During the interview, she demonstrated a self-awareness and honesty you don’t see very often,” trustee Eboni Murray stated. 

“Vicki understands the Forest Park Public Library we want to be,” stated trustee Lin Beribak. “Being a part of the community is important to her.”  

Rakowski didn’t attend the Dec. 12 meeting, and Quinn indicated that she would not be available for an interview in time for this issue’s deadline. But the press release quoted her as saying that she appreciated being chosen.

“I’m honored and thrilled to have been chosen as Forest Park Public Library’s next director,” said Rakowski. “Forest Park is a special place and I’m so excited to be able to contribute to a town that I admire and respect so much.”

Quinn’s contract called for her to stay on as interim director until the end of February to help with the transition. During the Dec. 12 meeting, board president Brooke Sievers said that she doesn’t expect Quinn to stay on “quite that long,” but that they would discuss those details in January.

The interim director said that people will still see her visit the Forest Park library.

“I will be there to pick up my [library material] holds,” Quinn said. “I switched my hold over here.”

“Alright!” Sievers laughed. “Take that, Oak Park.”