If you’ve come into the Main Library recently, you may have noticed some physical changes, like our reorganized movies, music, and adult fiction collections on the Second Floor, soon-to-be-completed three new Group Study Rooms on the Third Floor, and the consolidation of all public desktop computers on the Third Floor, where new Tech Aides are dedicated to helping you with computer and printing questions.

“It’s about improving the ease of library use for everyone,” said Lori Pulliam, Manager of Library Experiences and Initiatives. “We listen to what people share that is—and isn’t—working for them. This is just the beginning of how we’re responding to that feedback to make everyone’s experiences better.”

“We also want to provide materials that people want, when they want them,” added Elizabeth Marszalik, Manager of Library Experiences and Initiatives. “For example, with our new collection of Hot Picks, we’re putting the most popular books and movies on the shelf, so patrons can walk in and check out new and popular books on the spot, rather than waiting for titles on a hold list.”

Changes will continue over the coming months. And while our commitment to customer service remains unchanged, our librarians also are changing the way they work with each other, with the community, and with you.

Dedicating librarian expertise in new ways

To use our librarians’ expertise in more focused ways, we’ve adopted a librarians of practice model. Each librarian gears his or her talents for research, relationship-building, and local expertise around a specific topic—for example, adult education and job-seeking, business and government, arts and culture, or humanities, local history, and special collections. These topics inform how librarians select and maintain collections, develop programming, and cultivate community partnerships.

“We carefully considered customer feedback, comments from Community Conversations, and material requests to identify topics of interest to our community,” said Elsworth Rockefeller, Manager of Library Experiences and Initiatives. “The work of all librarians is designed to enhance community learning and engagement, and having a focus area allows librarians to curate collections and experiences that resonate with the community in a specialized way."

“We're excited about the changes happening because they are already contributing to better customer experiences,” Rockefeller added. “As always, we are here to help you.”

How may we help you? Meet some of your librarians of practice

Alexandra SkinnerHumanities, Local History, and Special Collections Librarian

Alexandra collaborates with community groups focused on history and genealogy, such as the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, the Oak Park Historical Society, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, to offer comprehensive services and programs for the community, scholars, and researchers. She also manages reference work related to local history, genealogy, historic homes, and obituary searches, with the goal of raising awareness of the library’s special and local collections and celebrating Oak Park’s past. Contact Alexandra.


Bridget Optholt, Business and Government Librarian

Bridget collaborates with local, regional, state, and national organizations serving the business community and participates in local government services for small businesses and start-ups. She curates seminars, materials and events related to government and business, including free SCORE mentoring sessions at the library for entrepreneurs. Contact Bridget.



Eric Pasteur, Local Content and Media Services Librarian

With an emphasis on identifying, celebrating, and curating work by local creators, Eric works closely with the creative community and manages the Oak Park Creates collection. He also develops programs related to this collection designed to inspire creative endeavors, attract new customers, and promote the creative work of our community. Contact Eric.



Margita Lidaka, Arts and Culture Librarian

Margita fosters and celebrates the arts in the Oak Park community through partnerships with local, regional, and national organizations and artists; programs; and installations in the library and throughout the community. With an emphasis on diverse types of artistic expression—theater, dance, music, visual arts, and so on—she creates opportunities to discover and contribute to the cultural landscape of the community. Contact Margita.



Rashmi Swain, Adult Education and Job Seekers Librarian

Rashmi engages adult learners through targeted programs and services focused on literacy skills, educational and occupational test preparation, digital fluency, and life skills. She designs and manages job-seeking services for teens and adults, and collaborates with local, regional, and national organizations focused on English-language learners and literacy skills. Contact Rashmi.



Continuing to grow and change with you

While we’re seeing some change now, more is on the way.  It's all change that stems from community.

In 2014, the library began turning outward, holding Community Conversations aimed at learning about community needs and aspirations. In those small-group discussions, we asked four questions: What kind of community do you want to live in? Why is that important to you? How is that different from how you see things now? What are some of the things that need to happen to create that kind of change?

We’ll continue asking these questions and listening to your answers to be the best library we can be for Oak Park. Have something to share? Please let us know anytime, in person or online.