Naperville library leader grows from computer assistant to executive director
His entire career in libraries has been in one system, and now Dave Della Terza leads that system as the new executive director of Naperville Public Library.
Della Terza, 36, stepped into the role upon the retirement of former director Julie Rothenfluh after six years at the library's helm.
The Bolingbrook resident who formerly worked in the TV industry became a librarian after he found he really enjoyed the part-time job he took as a library computer assistant in 2006.
"I said, 'Oh my goodness, I love libraries! This is an amazing place to work. I want to stay here,'" Della Terza said. "I loved the interactions with people and just the feeling of providing services that people really needed and wanted in the community."
Della Terza said his vision is for the library to continue to serve as an "amazing community center" for learning, meeting and entertaining, and as a significant physical space in a highly digital world.
"A lot of people also just want that place to connect ... on that human level," he said, "because that seems to be going away more and more."
Della Terza said he'll foster open communication with employees and taxpayers, as well as partnerships with schools, nonprofits, service clubs and library users.
"The better our relationships are with our customers," Della Terza said, "they're going to tell us what they want."
Della Terza rises to the executive director role after serving as the three-building library system's deputy director since 2017. Previously, he served as manager of the Naper Boulevard Library and as a computer lab manager.
He was chosen to succeed Rothenfluh in a nationwide search the library board conducted this year, and he began his new role June 3.
Rothenfluh retired June 7.
Library board President Nina Menis did not say how many candidates the search attracted, but she said Della Terza proved he can lead the library to be innovative and interconnected with community organizations.
"He has demonstrated leadership, adaptability and integrity in every position he has held," Menis said.
Della Terza's professionalism and high regard among the library's staff impressed board member Kay Severinsen, making him seem the obvious best choice, she said.
"He's so enthusiastic and committed to the library," Severinsen said.
After getting a bachelor's degree in communications and media studies from Northern Illinois University, Della Terza, a 2001 Neuqua Valley High School graduate, moved to California to work in TV.
Once he returned to the suburbs and started working at the Naperville Public Library, he pursued a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Della Terza makes $125,000 as the library's executive director.