Above / The Jefferson Avenue entrance to Nichols Library is graced with a “Nichols Library Miniature” that depicts in great detail Naperville’s first library, a gift to the citizens that began with a $10,000 bequeath from James L. Nichols back in 1895.  The second Nichols Library opened in 1986 at 200 W. Jefferson, the first of Naperville’s three public libraries that have been under the direction of Julie Rothenfluh since 2013. 

The office of the Executive Director of the Naperville Public Library is located in the Nichols Library, 200 E. Jefferson Ave., in downtown Naperville.

After 22 years of working at the Naperville Public Library, Executive Director Julie Rothenfluh announced that she will retire in June.

Rothenfluh, who joined the library staff here in 1997, has served as Executive Director for the last six years.

In her time as Executive Director, Rothenfluh oversaw $5 million in renovations to all three library buildings—Nichols in downtown Naperville, Naper Boulevard and 95th Street Library. 

In addition to new furniture and modern amenities, the library added a Teen Space, Green Screen Room, Sound Recording Studio and the business services start-up and co-working space, NaperLaunch.

Back in 2016, Jeff Davis invited Julie Rothenfluh to update the Rotary Club of Naperville/Downtown about the ever-expanding services and programs found at Naperville Libraries. More than books, Rothefluh said, the Naperville Library system provides access to technology, classes, workshops and programs geared for all ages. 

As the library entered the digital age, under Rothenfluh’s leadership, the library stayed up-to-date with cutting edge technology like 3D Printers and VR Headsets and expanded its digital collection and databases. More programs for adults and children were also added, including the popular Harry Potter-themed “The Party That Shall Not Be Named” and “Star Wars Reads Day,” two events that draw thousands of people each year.

She also sought after and developed partnerships with organizations like the Naperville Park District, Naper Settlement, DuPage Children’s Museum, Naperville school districts and local businesses.

“The library is not a standalone institution and it’s essential for us to be involved in the community,” Rothenfluh said.

Recognized as ‘All-Time All Star’ in 2017

In 2017, the library was named an “All-Time All-Star” by the Library Journal for being one of 13 libraries to earn a five-star rating for ten consecutive years.

In her tenure at the library, Rothenfluh served as Deputy Director, 95th St. Library Manager, Children’s Services Supervisor and Assistant Department Head.

Rothenfluh’s Background

Prior to coming to Naperville, Rothenfluh worked in the Los Angeles, Fresno and Kern County Public Libraries in California, and as Head of Children’s Services at Superior Public Library in Superior, Wisconsin.

She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, with a Master’s In Library Information Science.

As one of nine children growing up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Rothenfluh notes in a news release that she first fell in love with the library when her father took the family there on weekend trips, Her father – who read seven books a week despite working two jobs – was the foundation for her future career.

“I have a family that is big on reading and the library has always been a part of our life,” she said. “When my mom told me I should become a librarian, I said, ‘Yep, that’s probably true!’”

Rothenfluh added, “You get to a point in your career and life where you feel, ‘I’ve done everything I can do here.’ I’m ready to move on and let people with new and different ideas take over. This is a great organization and it’s full of good people who work hard and love this place.””

Naperville Public Library Board of Trustees Sets Succession Plan

Nina Menis is current President of the Naperville Public Library Board of Trustees. 

“Naperville Library Board of Trustees is grateful to Julie for her outstanding leadership and service to our community,” Menis said in a written statement. “She deeply values education and literacy and has continued, in partnership with her team, to maintain and strengthen the position of the Naperville Public Library as a nationally recognized leader. This was built through creative and innovative thinking; inclusive programs and services; and a commitment to partnerships, training, and development. She will be remembered as a strategic leader and an innovative community partner.”

Menis added that the Naperville Library Board of Trustees has developed a succession plan and will work with the Naperville Public Library Human Resources Manager, Sue Ashe, and HR Source to finalize the plan and conduct a national Executive Director Search for the Naperville Public Library.

Report submitted by Kim Neidermyer, Marketing Services Manager, Naperville Public Library. (PN File Photos)