EveryLibrary's Executive Director Recognized as one of the Chicago Tribune's "Chicagoan of the year"

The Niles-Maine Township Library had gone through a very difficult and truly transformative period since the Spring 2021 trustee election that saw new board members start to dismantle the library from the inside.

EveryLibrary Executive Director, John Chrastka, was proud to be included alongside Liz and the Save Niles Library Coalition in being recognized by the Chicago Tribune as a Chicagoan of the Year for 2022. 

John was contacted early in 2021 to help support pro-library stakeholders and the Coalition to safeguard the library - and eventually, restore a slate of good trustees to the board. From the beginning, the anti-library trustees refused to fill vacant staff positions while redirecting public funds to private businesses, including outside accountants and their own campaign videographer. They overspent the library’s budget on legal expenses, largely due to violations of the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Prior to their tenure, the Niles-Maine District Library consistently ranked among the best in the country. In successive budgets, they consistently voted to shrink the library’s budget for services, programs, and collections.  

EveryLibrary's comprehensive support included organizing and supporting public outreach and engagement across the district. We worked with local organizers and activists to train, coach, and guide along with advising on media strategy and outreach to elected officials. Liz Seskin, a lead organizer with the #SaveNilesLibrary Coalition, said this about working with EveryLibrary;

“When we felt outnumbered and overwhelmed, and when we didn't know what to do, EveryLibrary was there to support us and help us build a movement. We not only won a majority on our library board, but we built a political network for future elections.”

The collaboration between the #SaveNilesLibrary coalition and EveryLibrary is an example of library advocacy ecosystem building in action. “I personally learned so much,” added President Keane. “Having such a professional and caring organization [like EveryLibrary] behind me made it much easier for me.” As these newly elected board members forge a path toward a brighter future for the library, its staff, and the community it serves, EveryLibrary will continue to stand with them.