The Evanston Public Library board Thursday afternoon announced the appointment of Yolande Wilburn as the library’s new executive director.

Yolande Wilburn.

Wilburn, with more than a decade of library experience, currently heads the public library system in Santa Cruz, California, which has 10 locations, a $19 million budget and 110 full-time equivalent staff members.

She was named to head that system less than two years ago.

Wilburn started her career as a librarian at the Chicago Public Library, where she developed one of the nation’s earliest maker labs, the Innovation Lab at the Harold Washington Library.

Since then, she has served as city librarian in Torrance, California, county librarian in Nevada County, California, and library manager for the Los Angeles County Public Library. She earned her master’s degree in library and information science from San Jose State University.

“We are delighted that Yolande will be joining us at Evanston Public Library,” Library Board President Tracy Fulce said. “Her record of strategic planning, budgetary management, and staff development is exactly what is needed to support the extraordinary work our staff do on a daily basis.”

“I am looking forward to expanding collaborations with the city, county, and nonprofits in the community,” Wilburn said. “Different communities have different needs, and I’m looking forward to understanding Evanston’s needs and how we can best meet them at the Library.”

Wilburn was selected from a pool of more than 160 applicants in a search process that began late last year with a community-wide survey and drop-in listening sessions asking Evanstonians what they hoped to see in a new director.

For Wilburn, the move to Evanston is a homecoming. She was born and raised in Chicago and lived on Evanston’s south side. It was her family and community ties that prompted her return.

“It will be nice to be back home,” Wilburn said. “I am really looking forward to that.”

Wilburn’s first day at the Evanston Public Library will be Nov. 13.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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