MARENGO – Still readjusting to the cooler weather, Kevin Drinka recently began his new position as Marengo-Union Public Library director after moving from Arizona to return home to McHenry County.
Since starting last week, the Crystal Lake native has been absorbing as much information as he can from retiring Director Mary Hanson about the library's operations and upcoming move to a larger facility along Grant Highway in Marengo.
Drinka said his top goals as head librarian are to add programming and events for all residents and make the Marengo library into a central destination for the community.
"I would like to try to make the library more of a community hub, a community center," Drinka said. "Libraries have changed quite a bit. It's no longer a warehouse of books. They are changing into ... a home away from home for people."
The new job also means Drinka will be a full-time library director for the first time in his career. He left his assistant position at the Crystal Lake Public Library after four years in 2005 to move his family to Arizona.
He then worked at the Maricopa Public Library in Arizona, first as an assistant and later as a senior coordinator, for the last eight years.
"When the Marengo job opened it up, I thought it was a no-brainer," Drinka said. "It's the type of community I want to be in. It has a small-town feel where everybody knows each other."
Drinka will be challenged early as director, overseeing the library's move later this year to the former Miceli drapery plant along Grant Highway, Hanson said.
Hanson, who spent the past nine years as Marengo's top librarian, has been helping Drinka transition to his new role since last week. Her last day is April 30.
"Not only will he be learning the director's job, but he will be moving into a new facility with all of those challenges," Hanson said. "I felt that he would be able to handle that."
The library board interviewed four candidates, mostly from Illinois, for the director's position after Hanson announced her retirement in early February.
Hanson is retiring after working more than 30 years in libraries to spend time with her husband, who has lived and worked in Milwaukee for the past five years.
Drinka becomes the library's third director in the past 15 years.