Schaumburg Township District Library Trustee Robert Lyons, a member of the board since 1969, will not seek re-election in the spring.
Lyons said he came to his decision to retire next year because the library district is in strong shape and the enthusiasm he used to feel at the prospect of four more years on the board simply isn't there.
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"Forty-four years is a long time," Lyons said. "I just looked at it from the perspective that it was time."
Lyons does, however, plan to run for re-election for his other public service job on the pension board of the Teachers' Retirement System.
The Schaumburg Township District Library -- now one of the largest in the state -- was only about 73rd or 74th in size when Lyons first joined the board.
He said there wasn't really anything dramatic about the story of its steady growth from then until now, nor any period in which the board had to wrestle with correcting errors of the past.
"It was always the case that we had the tax base and Mike Madden as our director," Lyons said.
And the board has been most pleased the past three years with the retired Madden's successor, Stephanie Sarnoff, he added.
"As good as we thought Stephanie Sarnoff was when we hired her, she turned out to be even better," Lyons said.
One of the things that most surprises Lyons about the evolution of libraries since 1969 is the large role of audiovisual materials. If it were not for children's content, audio-visuals would have larger circulation figures in Schaumburg than books.
Lyons grew up in Cicero at a time when he says it was prejudiced, narrow-minded and run by the syndicate. However, the local library provided a ray of light, he said.
"Growing up, the library was extraordinarily important to me," Lyons said. "Through the library, I learned there was another world, a larger world."
And as much as has changed about the nature of libraries during his lifetime, Lyons said there is one basic aspect that remains the same.
"The consistency of the professionalism of librarians and their dedication to their jobs -- that hasn't changed from 1969 to today," he said.