Sugar Grove mourns former library director

  • Beverly Holmes Hughes, former director of the Sugar Grove Library, died last week of a brain tumor.

    Beverly Holmes Hughes, former director of the Sugar Grove Library, died last week of a brain tumor. Rick West/Daily Herald, April 2009

  • Beverly Holmes Hughes was the director of the Sugar Grove Library for more than 20 years. She also helped found the chamber of commerce, and was a foster mother.

    Beverly Holmes Hughes was the director of the Sugar Grove Library for more than 20 years. She also helped found the chamber of commerce, and was a foster mother. Daily Herald/May 2004

 
 
Updated 11/22/2016 11:29 AM

Beverly Holmes Hughes was Sugar Grove's Citizen of the Year in 2010 -- despite living in North Aurora.

The chamber of commerce and village officials wanted to honor the woman who was a longtime director of the Sugar Grove Public Library, a founder of the chamber, and enthusiastic supporter and participant in anything that made Sugar Grove better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The village is mourning her death, Saturday at age 56, from malignant brain tumors.

She was best known for her work at the Sugar Grove Public Library, from 1990 to 2011. The Oak Park native told the Daily Herald in 2004 the job was perfect because of the library's size and location: In the peaceful countryside, and so small she wouldn't have to choose between being a reference librarian or a children's librarian. She would be both as its lone full-time employee.

"This was the perfect size," Hughes said. "I prefer to have the ability to get to know patrons, to help them with their needs, to remember what they like and suggest other authors."

Hughes started when the library was located in a 6,000-square-foot space (plus a trailer) on Snow Street, with just 2,000 cardholders. She shepherded an effort to build a replacement that was five times bigger, as the population grew and the list of cardholders climbed to more than 5,000.

Dark times

Her tenure as library director included difficult times. Voters in 2004 agreed to borrow $8 million to build a new library. Construction began in 2008. Hughes was confident that once it opened, residents would see that it took more money to operate the bigger and better space, and agree to increase the operations property tax.

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But they continued to say "no." The library ended up cutting service hours and materials.

In 2010, the library board limited some of her authority, including on how much she could spend without approval and size of donations she could accept. It also took over annual reviews of workers. It all happened on the night the board honored her for 20 years of employment.

And in July 2011, the board fired her. That led to months of often raucous protest at board meetings, including picketing. The Friends of the Library fundraising group disbanded in protest.

"It will always be Beverly Holmes Hughes' library. That is still how I think of it," said Pat Graceffa, a friend of Hughes and now a library trustee.

Still friends

Hughes -- who took a job as a librarian at DeVry Institute of Technology -- remained friends with many in Sugar Grove.

That was especially important when it was discovered she had glioblastoma multiforme brain tumors. The community rallied to raise money to help Hughes' family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hughes is survived by Chuck, her husband of 15 years; her sister, Janet; and her parents. Janet lived with Hughes, and the two were foster parents to more than 50 children, according to Hughes' obituary.

Her wake is from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at Healy Chapel, 370 Division Drive, Sugar Grove. Her funeral is at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 325 E. Downer Place, Aurora.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Beverly Holmes Hughes Fund c/o First National Bank, 36 E. Galena Blvd., Sugar Grove, 60554 or the American Brain Tumor Association, abta.org.

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