How do you say farewell after 25 years of service? With gratitude, lots of hugs, and a few tears.
On Sunday, friends, family members, former and current staff and board members, and Oak Parkers joined together for a party in celebration of Deputy Director Jim Madigan’s retirement, which included heartfelt speeches from Library Executive Director David Seleb, Board President Matthew Fruth, and the man of honor himself.
‘Thank you’ does not seem enough
From Library Executive Director David Seleb’s speech:
“Recently, while discussing Jim Madigan’s retirement, I said that Jim is the conscience of the library. And, by that I mean that for the past twenty-five years, Jim has brought not just his physical self to this organization but, in many ways his spirit, too. Happily for those of us who will remain to continue our work after Jim’s departure, that means he will continue to be here with us, in a way that those most closely connected to this library and this work understand.
“My simple words of thanks—the gratitude I have for Jim—don’t seem adequate to communicate my debt and the community’s debt to him. For this community of Oak Park, Jim’s work and commitment and dedication have ensured the library’s place as the heart of the community. As a place of information and learning. As a gathering space. As a welcoming place for everyone. For me, who has been fortunate enough to work beside Jim for the past five and a half years, Jim has been a trusted colleague, a sounding board, a voice of reason, an encourager, a calming influence, a teacher, and a friend. Jim does his work each day with a quiet dignity that has greatly impressed me. As I said, ‘thank you’ does not seem enough.
“Jim gave me some time to prepare for this, when he told me at a library conference during dinner more than two years ago that he was beginning to consider his retirement. That buffer of time will not have made it any easier at the end of this week when he walks out these doors for the last time as my deputy director.
“So … how do we say thank you to Jim? Librarianship wasn’t Jim’s first career choice. He did other good work before coming here. But, I have never known another librarian who is so committed to the mentoring and to the support and to the education of future librarians and library staff members than Jim. Jim is a strong and firm advocate for committing resources to educate our future library leaders, and because of him our organization does more of that today than I think it ever has before. And, provided with Jim’s example, we want to do even more. Which is why today I am pleased and honored to tell you all, the Oak Park Library has created, in partnership with the Oak Park and River Forest Community Foundation, a fund that is now called the ‘Jim Madigan Oak Park Public Library Staff Education Fund.’ This fund, which is established and ready now to receive donations, will provide additional resources for the educational advancement of our library’s staff and will give the entire Oak Park community the opportunity to honor Jim—through their generous financial contributions—in a way that I know Jim would find particularly meaningful. I know, because I asked him before we created it. All the funds donated to and collected through this fund will be used for this singularly important purpose.
Jim, as you leave here to continue to live a life most well examined and most well lived, please know that we all are better—so much better—for knowing you. Thank you, my friend, thank you.”
In the news
- “‘Libraries have always been about people’: Oak Park library deputy director to retire after 25 years,” Oak Leaves, February 5, 2019
- “Jim Madigan’s vision,” Wednesday Journal, February 5, 2019
- “Oak Park Library’s MVP closes the book,” Wednesday Journal, February 5, 2019