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updated: 6/22/2011 5:08 AM

Naperville names new public library director

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  • John G. Spears

    John G. Spears


The Naperville Public Library has brought a familiar face back into the fold as it announced the hiring of its new Executive Director Tuesday evening.

Board members unanimously approved the hiring of John G. Spears, currently the executive director of the Joliet Public Library, to replace retiring Executive Director Donna Dziedzic.

Spears, an Oswego resident, was the library manager of the Naperville Public Library's 95th Street Library from 2007-09 before becoming the executive director of the Joliet Public Library in October 2009.

"We had a very solid applicant pool for the position; however the board felt that (Spears') strategic vision, ability for community outreach, and enthusiasm best positioned (the library) for leadership into the future," said John Maas, a search committee and library board member.

Recently seated Board President Jerry Feldott said the board watched Spears cut his teeth in Naperville before taking over the Joliet library.

"We think John has had some great experience in Joliet and also in his time with us at 95th Street, which gave him a unique perspective on our future," Feldott said. "You always want to get that aggressive guy who is on his way up, works great with staff and knows what needs to be done. John, as a guy still building toward his peak, gives us that guy."

During his time at the Joliet Public Library, Spears worked to upgrade the library's technological infrastructure, and build partnerships with community and government groups.

Reached late Tuesday, Spears said he hopes to build on those same partnerships in Naperville, while also working to keep the library's budget in check during what will likely continue to be a financially turbulent few years.

"Every library in the nation is dealing with financial hardships and Joliet's situation is not much different from what Naperville is facing," Spears said. "While in Joliet, I've managed the budget and worked on our levy every year to maintain the library's funding. I look forward to working with the city of Naperville in the same fashion."

Spears said applying for the job when he heard Dziedzic would be retiring was a "no-brainer."

"I've had a great opportunity to achieve some great things for the patrons and employees of the Joliet Public Library," Spears said, "but there's no one in my position who wouldn't jump at the chance to work for one of the county's best library systems in Naperville."

There is at least one person, however, as Feldott said one of four finalists dropped out of contention and took another job as the board was about to finalize their decision. That process led to the naming of a new director taking about a month longer than expected.

"I wouldn't call it a problem," Feldott said. "I would call it an extremely lucky circumstance."

Spears' last day in Joliet will be July 14 and he is expected to start in Naperville on July 25. Dziedzic will be retire June 30, but will stay on as an adviser through July 22 to help with Spears' transition.

Dziedzic announced last fall that she would be retiring in June, ending a 15-year career heading a library that was named the best of its size in the country for 10 consecutive years in the Hennen's American Public Library Ratings, which look at more than 8,000 libraries.