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updated: 5/16/2014 4:31 PM

Gail Borden library president stepping down after 25 years

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  • Rick McCarthy

    Rick McCarthy


The board president of the Gail Borden Public Library District is stepping down after serving for 25 years in Elgin, and might next set his sights on a similar post in Barrington.

Rick McCarthy, 58, who was born and raised in Elgin, said he's moving to Barrington because he's getting married this fall. He served as trustee from May 1987 to April 1999, and from May 2001 to now.

He'll be stepping down May 30, after which the board will elect a new president and likely form a committee to select someone to appoint to his seat through the April election, he said.

He first ran for library trustee in Elgin after his then-boss, a library trustee, decided not to run again. McCarthy's father, also named Richard McCarthy, was a well-known lawyer in Elgin, to which his son attributes his first election win.

"When I got on the ballot, people probably thought it was him (my father). I am not ashamed to admit it," he said.

During his tenure, McCarthy oversaw the construction of the main library in 2003 and the Rakow branch in 2009.

"The most challenging part was probably the referendum (to build the main library)," he said. "I honestly don't think I've ever worked this hard in my life."

He's also proud of bringing Carole Medal as a candidate for the position of executive director, which she's held since 2004, he said.

Serving on the Elgin board has had a direct and lasting impact on his career as an architect, said McCarthy, who leads the library design team at StudioGC in Chicago.

He's designed libraries in Algonquin, Addison, New Lenox, Mokena, and others, he said.

"As I got more and more interested in the library, I thought, 'As a profession, I want to design these, too,' " McCarthy said, who's been in library design for about 20 years.

"In my professional practice, it totally changed the way I plan, and I assess library needs and help the clients plan their library," he said.

Successful libraries must maximize staffing efficiencies and be places "where things happen, rather than where things are," he said.

"I'm trying to reinvent that a little bit, because a lot of the old standards are really out of date and don't apply anymore."

McCarthy also serves on the Illinois Library Association's executive board. He has written two books on library construction projects, "Designing Better Libraries" and "Managing Your Library Construction Project."

He will consider running for a spot on the Barrington Area Library Board, he said.

"I'm certainly going to look at it," he said. "They've got a good library, so it's not like they really need me, but I do bring a lot of experience."

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