Cook Memorial library board chooses new president after controversy

Previous president resigned last week amid controversy

One week after Cook Memorial Public Library District board President Bonnie Quirke resigned following public criticism of offensive comments she'd made, trustees have chosen her successor.

Longtime board member Wendy Vieth on Tuesday was named the Libertyville-based panel's new leader. She had been the board's vice president since 2009.

Quirke resigned June 23 after controversy erupted about homophobic and racially inflammatory comments and Facebook posts she'd made during her tenure.

The comments included remarks during a 2010 speech in which Quirke complained that "the library abounds with the homosexual agenda, especially in the children's department."

Quirke also was criticized for a 2009 Facebook post showing what appeared to be a native African shaman with then-President Barack Obama's head digitally superimposed on his shoulders, among other posts.

Quirke, of Libertyville, had been a trustee since 2005 and the board's president since 2009. Her current term was set to expire next year.

Vieth, also of Libertyville, last was elected to a 4-year term on the board in 2019. She's served on the panel since 2007.

Vieth and Quirke campaigned together in 2007.

During a board discussion of the controversy in mid-June, Vieth said she disagreed with Quirke's Facebook posts.

Vieth also said she'd never seen Quirke try to influence the board to follow her political or social views.

With Vieth moving up to president, the trustees had to choose a new vice president - and Jim Larson got the nod Tuesday.

Larson had been serving as the board's secretary, so the board next named Jennifer Banek to that role.

As for Quirke's now-vacant seat on the board, it'll be up to the six remaining library trustees to appoint a new member who'll serve until after the spring 2021 election.

Officials will post an application on the library website starting July 8 and encourage applications there and on social media through July 23. Interviews will follow.

Vieth hopes the board will be ready to appoint a new trustee in August.

Applicants must have been Cook Memorial district residents for at least one year and be at least 18, among other requirements.

The district includes Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Green Oaks, Mettawa, Indian Creek, a portion of Mundelein and some unincorporated areas.

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