Karen Danczak Lyons addressing the City Council in 2014.

The Evanston Public Library’s executive director, Karen Danczak Lyons has announced she plans to retire in June.

“I believe that part of being a leader is knowing when to leave and make space for what’s next,” Danczak Lyons said in a statement. “I am proud of the work we have accomplished together under my leadership, and I want to allow for a smooth transition to ensure our important work continues.” 

Danczak Lyons joined the Evanston library a decade ago, after spending 19 years with the Chicago Public Library system.

Since then she has overseen the library’s opening of a new branch at the Robert Crown Center and the closure of two smaller branch libraries in north and south Evanston.

The library in recent years has also offered loans of Wi-Fi hotspots and taken other steps to bridge the digital divide and expanded its virtual programming and digital offerings in response to the pandemic.

The library has also eliminated overdue fines and taken other steps to reduce barriers to access and be more inclusive.

Danczak Lyons graduated from Loyola University in Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in 1981 and holds a master’s of library science degree from Dominican University.

“Karen has been an extraordinary and visionary leader for the Evanston Public Library, and she has made a lasting impact on our community through her decade of service,” said Interim Evanston City Manager Kelley Gandurski.

The library board plans to name an interim director while a national search for Danczak Lyons’ successor is conducted.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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