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Executive Director Search

The Urbana Free Library
Urbana, Illinois

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A “MICRO-URBAN” COMMUNITYThe Gateway at the University of Illinois

Located in east central Illinois approximately 135 miles south of Chicago, the city of Urbana (population 41,518) is the seat of Champaign County and home of the University of Illinois, one of the preeminent research institutions in the world. The University of Illinois campus spans both the city of Urbana and the neighboring city of Champaign (population 82,517).
    Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois
U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and Wired magazines have recognized Urbana-Champaign as one of the top ten high-tech communities in America.
Smart, progressive and innovative, the Urbana-Champaign “micro-urban community” possesses the desirable qualities most often associated with much larger metropolitan centers: an internationally diverse population, a strong technology base, a vibrant cultural arts/entertainment scene and animated public discourse on major societal and global concerns. With its natural assets and world‐class university setting, Urbana offers residents a metropolitan feel while maintaining the charm of a city that has grown up in the heart of the American prairie.


HOME OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOISThe Morrow Plots at the University of Illinois

Urbana is internationally distinguished as the home of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state’s flagship public university. With an enrollment of over 44,000 students, including 4,500 international students, the University has ten programs ranked among the top ten in the country.
The College of Engineering is ranked fifth in the most recent U.S. News & World Report, which also rates the Agricultural Engineering program number one in the U.S.  The UI is renowned for the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, which is consistently ranked number one in the country. The University Library is the second largest academic library in the United States, exceeded in size only by Harvard University.




In recent years, Urbana has been cited by the National Home Builders Association as one of the top ten most affordable housing markets in the U.S. The City’s West Urbana Neighborhood was named one of the Ten Great Neighborhoods in the country by the American Planning Association in 2007.



Urbana is a well-educated community—54% of residents over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Urbana School District 116 is home to an early childhood center, six elementary schools, a middle school and a high school that offer innovative, comprehensive programs designed to engage each student, every family and the entire community. Urbana students also attend the University of Illinois Laboratory High School, a publicly-funded, competitive enrollment school.



The widely acclaimed Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois attracts nationally and internationally renowned artists each season. With four indoor theaters and an outdoor amphitheater, Krannert hosts more than 350 musical, theater, opera, and dance performances each year. Urbana and Champaign have vibrant art scenes that are home to three theatre companies, a symphony orchestra, a pops orchestra, countless live music venues, numerous art galleries, and the annual Roger Ebert Film Festival.



Urbana has received national recognition as a “Tree City USA” since 1976, with over 100,000 trees. Urbana is a walkable community and has one of the best transit systems in the country. It is a bike-friendly city, with a high number of bicycle commuters and dedicated bike paths. 



University of Illinois football stadium

The Urbana Park District maintains nearly 600 acres of  beautiful park properties, including seven recreation facilities, indoor and outdoor aquatic centers, Crystal Lake Park, and a  10-acre dog park. Walkers, runners and bikers enjoy Meadowbrook Park, where three miles of paved paths wind through gardens, native prairie grasses, wildflowers and 23 spectacular sculptures.
The cities go orange and blue for Illinois’ Fighting Illini, with all the excitement of Big Ten men and women’s college sports.



Urbana is home to two regional medical centers: Presence Covenant Medical Center and Carle Foundation Hospital and Clinic. In 2012, Carle Foundation Hospital was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Thomson Reuters.



Urbana consistently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Illinois.  Major employers in Champaign County:

University of Illinois
Carle Clinic and Hospital
Champaign School District
Kraft Foods, Inc.
Parkland College
Presence Medical Center
Urbana School District
Plastipak Packaging, Inc.
Christie Clinic
Horizon Hobby, Inc.
Busey Bank
Solo Cup
Health Alliance Medical Plans
Wolfram Research
Fed Ex Ground
State Farm Insurance Company
John Deere
Abbot Laboratories
Archer Daniels Midland
Monsanto Genetics
J.P. Morgan Chase
Wells Fargo Insurance Services
United Parcel Service



Close up of historic clock in Downtown Urbana

Fall scene of the Quad at the University of IllinoisStore front of UBA, the Urbana Business Association

Balencia sculpture in Meadowbrook Park, UrbanaKrannert Center for the Performing Arts

Abstract artwork promoting Art, Culture, and EducationEvening scene of Downtown Champaign, Illinois



THE URBANA FREE LIBRARYThe Urbana Free Library Green Street entrance

Founded in 1874, The Urbana Free Library is one of the earliest tax-supported public libraries in America. Typical of the times, the library included “free” in its name to distinguish it from library associations which required paid membership.






Race Street entrance of The Urbana Free LibraryConsistently ranked among the top one percent of American public libraries both statewide and nationally, The  Urbana Free Library is the most visited place in downtown Urbana, welcoming over 500,000 visitors each year. Library patrons borrow over 850,000 books, movies, music, and other materials annually, which is one of the largest volume circulations in the state.

Like Urbana, the Library brings a strong sense of history into today’s high tech world. The 1918 building was constructed of cut limestone in the classical revival architectural style, and this historic structure remains. The Library was expanded in 1975 and again in 2005, resulting in the current library building of 50,000 square feet that features the same architectural character and limestone edifice as the 1918 landmark. 

The Library is a vital center of community life in Urbana, providing nearly 800 programs for children, teens, and adults each year. Programming places special emphasis on activities for children and teens but includes programs for patrons of all ages: storytelling, reading programs, gaming, school visits, author talks, workshops, book discussions, monthly concerts, community outreach appearances, and special after-hours events.


ON AN AVERAGE DAYRainy day looking out a window of the library onto Cherry Alley

2,447   Items borrowed
   395   Questions answered
   294   Public computer sessions
     83   Program attendance
1,320   Library visitors
1,586   Website visitors
2,706   Online catalog searches


863,793   Items borrowed
139,570   Questions answered
103,681   Public computer sessions
  29,387   Program attendance
466,093   Library visitors
578,724   Website visitors
987,604   Online catalog searches



The Urbana Free Library is well-known for the outstanding  service provided by a knowledgeable and dedicated staff. The Library employs 80 to 90 staff, including 22 full-time employees and numerous part-time staff, the full-time equivalent (FTE) of 49 employees. Library departments  include Administration, Acquisitions, Circulation Services, Adult Services, Children’s Services, and the ChampaignCounty Historical Archives.  The Library serves about 15,000 cardholders.


THE URBANA “FREE & WONDERFUL” LIBRARYWoman using Wi-Fi on the front steps of the library


The overall circulation of 863,793 is approximately 70 percent adult items and 30 percent children’s items. The library collection currently holds 293,711 items. Overall, the collection is approximately 64 percent adult, 24 percent children’s, and 12 percent Archives.



The Archives enjoys a regional reputation for the quality of its genealogy research collection, which features extensive holdings on the people and history of Champaign County and surrounding areas. The Archives’ holdings are searchable in Local History Online (LHO), an ever-growing catalog and index with nearly 900,000 records. LHO also makes available online over 5,000 digital objects, including text documents, streamed oral histories, and scanned photographs.



The American Library Association has identified “digital literacy” as a vital mission for today’s library, and The Urbana Free Library has long recognized the importance of providing public computers and high-speed Internet access as a bridge for the “digital divide.” In FY2011 - 2012, library patrons logged 112,163 public computer sessions on 64 public computers.

The Library continuously explores the latest technologies as a means of connecting users with information, and has made downloadables and eReaders available free to Urbana cardholders. Nook® eReaders are available for a two-week loan period and can be preloaded with bestsellers, mysteries, teen fiction, and popular nonfiction titles. eBooks and digital audiobooks for PC, Mac, eReaders, and mobile devices are also loaned out for two weeks. Through Zinio, patrons have free online access to almost 100 digital magazines, which can be read online, downloaded to a computer, or accessed via apps on a tablet or mobile device. 



The Library is governed by a Board of Trustees, which consists of nine members serving three-year terms. Trustees are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Urbana City Council. The Board has responsibilities for policy, budget, planning, and hiring of the Executive Director. The Library’s current operating budget is approximately $3.5 million.

The Friends of The Urbana Free Library provide valuable community support, raising $25,000 annually with popular used-book sales. The Friends also maintain the library gardens and indoor plants.  

The Urbana Free Library Foundation's successful capital campaign raised nearly $3 million for the Library’s 2005 building expansion project. The Foundation continues to plan and fundraise for future library building needs.


Executive Director Profile

View of Cherry Alley through the wrought iron arch sculptureConsistently ranked among the top one percent of American public libraries both statewide and nationally, The Urbana Free Library is seeking an Executive Director with the vision and dynamic leadership to move this outstanding library forward to meet the challenges of the transforming role and function of the American public library while building on the solid foundation of the past. The Executive Director manages a dedicated staff of 80 and a $3.5 million budget for this downtown library that has an annual circulation of over 860,000 items. Urbana Illinois is a progressive community located in east central Illinois and is home to the University of Illinois and the number one ranked library school in the country.


APPLICANTS MUST HAVE:Children admiring the Tortoise and Hare sculpture outside the library

  • an MLS from an ALA accredited library school,
  • 5 - 10 years progressively responsible library managerial experience and,
  • U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency.




  • Has a knowledge of current trends and best practices that influence or enhance public library service;
  • Empowers staff with the authority and resources to reach beyond their potential in taking the initiative to achieve transformative results;
  • Creates and maintains an environment in which excellence and innovation can thrive;
  • Thinks strategically and makes sound, wise, and fair decisions under pressure after consultation with others using reliable evidence;
  • Effectively leads and manages change;
  • Mentors staff and fosters a team environment;
  • Excels in developing, leading, and motivating staff;
  • Has a demonstrated record of effective fiscal management and budgetary planning;
  • Understands and uses effective measurement and evaluation methods;
  • Has a positive track record in implementing appropriate leading-edge technologies while retaining popular traditional services and collections.


  • Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing;
  • Provides timely, accurate, and relevant information on critical issues to The Urbana Free Library Board,  staff, partners, and the public;
  • Is willing and able to be an effective, visible library spokesperson in the community;
  • Identifies the key concepts and issues to be communicated in complex situations;
  • Communicates openly, clearly, logically, and concisely;
  • Is able to develop and communicate a shared vision of library services;
  • Has a sense of humor and a wise tolerance for human error both in oneself and others.


  • Ability to work effectively with citizens, The Urbana Free Library Board, government officials, local organizations, schools, institutions of higher education, regional and state library organizations, and state and national library associations;
  • Genuine interest in Urbana citizens and a commitment to become part of the community as evidenced by a willingness to reside in the city unless unusual circumstances, as determined by The Urbana Free Library Board, exist;
  • Is able to work collaboratively and harmoniously with library staff, The Urbana Free Library Foundation, Friends of The Urbana Free Library, and other key stakeholders to achieve the Library’s mission;
  • Works successfully with local elected officials;
  • Has a history of responsiveness to staff, library users, and community residents;
  • Acts with a high level of integrity and develops relationships based on dependability and honesty;
  • Is active in civic and professional organizations.




  • Responsible for all aspects of library administration and maintaining and promoting a positive user-centered library culture;
  • Reports to The Urbana Free Library Board of Trustees, which is responsible for library governance;
  • Coordinates library activities with the City of Urbana and serves as the Library representative in actions that legally or politically affect the Library;
  • Represents the Library to The Urbana Free Library Foundation and the Friends of The Urbana Free Library;
  • Carries out other duties as assigned by the Board of Trustees.


  • Fosters a collegial atmosphere among all library staff;
  • Supervises the Associate Director and the Directors of Adult Services, Children’s Services,  Archives, and Circulation;
  • In consultation with the associate directors, establishes priorities and delegates appropriately;
  • Approves employment of new employees and promotions;
  • Along with the appropriate associate director, recruits, hires, manages, and evaluates library personnel who will effectively carry out the Library’s mission.


  • Oversees the creation of proposed budgets for submission to the Board of Trustees;
  • Represents the Library’s needs and interests in budget discussions with the City of Urbana;
  • Approves the preparation of grant proposals.


  • Represents the Library to the local community, the press, and the professional library community;
  • Participates in outreach and public relations efforts;
  • Plays a leadership role in working with local, state, and peer institutions.


SALARY is negotiable from $90,000 based on qualifications and experience.

In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is provided to full time Library employees which includes:

  • Vacation – 20 days per year
  • Sick leave – 12 days a year
  • Holidays – 9.5 days a year        
  • Medical (paid for by Library) and dental (paid by employee if desired) plans
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Life insurance
  • Participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Plan for pension



INTERESTED CANDIDATES should submit a current resume, cover letter and the names of three professional references with full contact information (telephone numbers, email addresses).  

The cover letter should briefly address the following:

  1. How the candidate meets the requirement of an MLS from an ALA accredited library school and 5-10 years progressively responsible library managerial experience.
  2. A statement of the candidate’s philosophy of public library service and management style.

These two documents (resume and cover letter) along with the three professional references should be submitted electronically to Becky Brown, Office Manager, The Urbana Free Library at:

QUESTIONS regarding the search process and application procedures can be sent to Robert Burger, Chair of the Search Committee at

RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS will be acknowledged by Ms. Brown.

MAXIMUM CONSIDERATION will be given to applications received by January 8, 2014.


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