New director plans for Lisle Library's future
Eleven days after assuming her position as director of the Lisle Library District, Tatiana Weinstein is excited to lead the medium-size library into its future.
Weinstein comes well-prepared for the task, and already has weathered the first calamity.
"On the very last day of our past director, our main board switches went down that affords us internet and catalog access, and all the phone and wireless," Weinstein said. "For half a day there was a domino effect, so I had 11- and 12-hour days the first few days on the job."
The easiest thing for Weinstein during her initial days was her first internal staff meeting.
"The staff is so supportive, which is nice," Weinstein said. "We have a wonderful and highly professional staff, and are well-known for our great, helpful and friendly staff. They are so willing to go that extra mile."
Weinstein is equally proud to have been a member of the Lisle Library staff since 1998, starting as a readers advisory assistant and moving up the ranks to director of adult services and assistant director.
While working at a book store for 11 years including during her college studies, Weinstein was influenced by the store's staff librarian.
Growing up, Weinstein loved art, reading, writing and books and describes herself as a "news junkie." She thought of becoming an art teacher, and earned degrees at DePaul University and Columbia College in Chicago and then her master's in library and information science from Dominican University in River Forest. Learning more about what a librarian does convinced her that it could be her perfect career.
"Every day here is a challenge, an opportunity and different each day because we work in the public sphere," Weinstein said. "We meet new people, have other issues, problems and wonderful success stories."
In her 18 years at the Lisle Library, Weinstein has attended many conferences and diligently keeps up with all the new things happening in public libraries.
"Public libraries today are institutions for lifelong learning," Weinstein said. "A lot is not just about books; all my librarians on staff are instructors and teach many classes we offer. We can really move technology ahead. We supplement our readers' educational, professional and creative needs and interests at every stage of life -- from babies to seniors."
The Lisle Library is approximately 33,190 square feet in size and houses 160,000 items in its collection. Its extensive digital collections include e-books, audio books, music, magazines and movies with thousands of choices. Residents may access digital content through 40 databases. The library's vision statement is, "We are here to Enrich, Educate and Empower."
With the library board, Weinstein looks forward to working on the budget and evaluating the library's space. Weinstein says they first need to reach out to the community to find out what residents want from a library.
"Last year, we finished our five-year strategic plan," Weinstein said. "Our community outreach will be key to laying out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Is it a fit for the community, or do they like us just the way we are?"
This spring, Weinstein will look to engage the Lisle community in a comprehensive survey process for the library's long-range planning. Last done in 1998-99, the library's intent is to connect with residents, to gather information, and to plan its future.
"It is premature to say what we want before reaching out to the community to see what they will like," Weinstein said. "It is not for me to decide, although I am happy to guide the process."
Weinstein's dreams for the Lisle Library are patron-driven. Her dream is for "every child in the district to have a library card; for every teen to understand how we can supplement their education here; and for every adult to know how valuable we are by coming to the library."
So part of her efforts need to be getting her message out.
"We are third place," Weinstein explained. "Home is number one; school or work is number two; and then the public library is number three."
Weinstein has some existing accomplishments she can point to with pride. In the summer of 2013, she spearheaded a new feature at the library to highlight different local artists called Gallery 777. Every two months, the rotating exhibit features creative work. Each opening begins with a welcoming reception the first Friday of the exhibit. Interested artists age 18 and older may contact the library for details.
"There is a lot of great talent in Lisle," Weinstein said. "We are about six months out in planning."
The library had a recent donation from the Lisle Lions Club of low-vision service devices for public use. Among the items are large hand-held magnifiers, a device to turn text into sound, and low-vision reader.
"We have a whole Web page devoted to low-vision support," Weinstein said.
She is grateful to the Lions for the gifts to the library; to the Friends of the Lisle Library for their continued support, first-rate programing, and twice-yearly book sales; and to the Lisle Woman's Club, which was key to forming the district more than 50 years ago and continues to support the library. She appreciates the adult home delivery volunteers who faithfully bring books and library materials to homebound patrons.
Weinstein wants to make a stronger connection to the Lisle community and increase library membership. If you are not a user, she wants to understand why.
Weinstein believes, "Whatever your life circumstance, a public library can help you grow, improve and enhance your life."
• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. Her column appears monthly in Neighbor.