Stephen Bero was given two critical tasks when he was hired three years ago as director of the Algonquin Area Public Library District.
The first was to get the ball rolling on a multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation of the library's facilities. The second was to mentor Assistant Director Sara Murray and prepare her to eventually take over his position.
Now with a $6.7 million library redevelopment project underway and a successor who is highly qualified to assume his responsibilities, Bero says he is planning to retire Oct. 31.
"This was all by design," he said. "My work here is about done."
Bero, a Round Lake resident, first took on the role as the district's interim leader while the library board was looking for a replacement for retired Administrative Librarian Lynn Elam. During that search process, Bero said, trustees decided they wanted to instead develop a succession plan involving Murray, who had expressed interest in the position but didn't have enough experience at the time to take over.
It wasn't long before the board offered Bero the permanent director title to help with the transition, he said
At the time, Bero had also been communicating with the board about bringing the library renovation project to fruition -- something he felt would be very feasible thanks to the district's financial stability and millions of dollars in reserves. He previously oversaw a similar building project as director of the Warren-Newport Public Library District in Gurnee before he retired in 2014.
"(Algonquin) pulled me out of retirement, but it was easy for me to do that. It's a great staff here, and I just felt this is a great fit for us both," he said. "The construction project ... really made it a golden opportunity that I couldn't pass up."
Contractors broke ground on the expansion last month and are on track to complete the work by next year, Bero said.
Bero expects to spend his last month tying up loose ends and helping Murray with any final preparations before she takes over Nov. 1.
"The community will benefit from having her as the leader of the library. She has a lot of fresh ideas that she's been waiting to implement," he said. "We've made sure she's trained and has gotten the experience now. She's raring to go."