In Mary Amici-Kozi's world, easy ideas turn into detailed plans, simple beginnings turn into intricate schedules, and small starts turn into big finishes.
As the graphic artist at the Elgin Gail Borden Public Library, Amici-Kozi had a humble start as a part-time assistant in a branch of the marketing department.
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She is now the go-to artist in the creative services arm of the department. She brings to life the current themes in the library with colorful, three-dimentional, sometimes life-size walk-though displays.
"There are always different things coming up to do," she says of her job. "It's how we portray the story, how to get people interested."
Her time is spent on simple 90-minute poster creations, but also on models or displays that may take weeks to complete.
A recent display of 3-D Elgin buildings to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the library was one of the more time-consuming projects she completed. Some of the replicas, like the eight-story Elgin Tower Building, stood taller than Amici-Kozi herself. All were made using cardboard boxes.
"Each piece is five different sides that have to be designed and created and built," she explains. "You're not just printing them out, now you have to build them. That was weeks and weeks of work."
She completed one of those building structures in about 10 hours, but others took longer to build. The original plan was to create a display wall with large panels depicting a timeline of historical events in the life of the library. That plan grew larger with the idea of creating lifelike models of previous Gail Borden Library buildings. The plan grew even more with the addition of models of iconic Elgin buildings added to the mix.
In the end, Amici-Kozi was still frantically building the last structure in her workspace on the second level of the library, even as the 140th anniversary party in late March was starting on the main floor of the library.
"We are always changing, always coming up with new ideas," she says. "You want to give as much as you can. You want to be as creative as you can. I like to see how much the public enjoys things that touch them."
The 140th anniversary project is still on display, and has been joined by displays highlighting the summer reading program.
She also enjoys meeting people who have a connection to her work.
"We do a lot about local things," she explains. "As soon as I start putting something up out there, setting something up, immediately there are people who stop to tell me a story. I love it."