When the Naperville Public Library board named its new executive director Wednesday night, she already was in the room responding to board questions and leading the meeting.
Interim Director Julie Rothenfluh now is officially the library's executive director, and she jumped right into the role Wednesday night discussing strategic planning, the library's strengths and weaknesses, and early ideas for next year's budget.
The board named Rothenfluh as leader less than two months after former Executive Director John Spears stepped down July 5. In a closed meeting earlier this month, the library board reviewed application materials from the search that brought Spears to town in 2011 and determined Rothenfluh was the best choice.
"It is definitely a seamless transition," library board President Sandy Benson said.
Rothenfluh was recommended by both Spears and the library's previous executive director, and Benson said board members are comfortable with her qualifications and leadership style.
Rothenfluh has worked more than 15 years at the Naperville Public Library, serving as library manager at the 95th Street Library and children's services supervisor at the Nichols Library before becoming deputy director of the system. She has a master's of library science degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and previously worked in Wisconsin and California, according to her biography on the library's website.
She will be paid roughly $140,000 -- the same salary Spears was receiving when he stepped down, and the same pay Rothenfluh has been getting since taking over the interim role July 6.
Rothenfluh said creating a new strategic plan, since the library has been without one about two years, is one of her top priorities now that she officially has assumed leadership.
Library trustees Madhu Uppal and Jeff Davis asked when the planning process will begin and how it will work.
"My personal feeling is this go around, I would like to see us get more input from the community," Rothenfluh said, adding she will present trustees a range of options for how to pursue the planning process before moving forward.
Also high on Rothenfluh's priority list is next year's budget, which is scheduled for discussion at a workshop scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 5. Two possible additions to the budget are expansion of Nichols Library Sunday hours, so the facility would be open 1 to 9 p.m., and the possible creation of spaces in each building to serve as business incubators for startups or small businesses.
Lawyers, insurance agents, therapists and other business people all use the library as their work space, so Rothenfluh said demand for a business incubator certainly exists. Such a facility also could contribute to the community's economic growth, she said.