Librarian honored for work
Sue Quinn, head of Children's Services at the River Forest Public Library, is the 2012 recipient of the Illinois Library Association's Davis Cup Award. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:16AM
River Forest — Aspiring to work in libraries for a lifetime, River Forest children’s librarian Sue Quinn has been recognized for exemplary service.
The Illinois Library Association recently announced Quinn won its Davis Cup Award for exceptional service through innovative programming, professionalism and dedication to the needs of children — above and beyond reading books to them at story time.
“There are so many ways Sue has made a difference here,” said River Forest Public Library Director Sophia Anastos, who nominated her for the award.
“She has a gift for working with children, but she’s also one of those rare individuals who are also able to work well with adults across all domains,” Anastos said. “She’s been a great asset in developing community outreach, mentoring library students from Dominican who work here part-time and partnering with everyone on the team here at the library. I really can’t praise her enough.”
Quinn grew up in Oak Park and graduated in 1981 from Oak Park River Forest High School. She scored her first paying job at 15 working at the Oak Park library.
After graduating from college with a degree in finance, she worked for five years as a banker before deciding that was not the career for her. She went for a master’s degree in library science at Dominican University, with specialty certification in the school library program.
“I thought I was going to be a school librarian, but I ended up having a family and not working for a little while,” Quinn said. “When I did get back into libraries, I went the public route.”
Still, she liked the idea of working with children, an avocation she tested by working five years as a pre-school teacher in First United Church’s nursery school.
After another stint at the Oak Park library, Quinn became a River Forest librarian in 2007. She became head of children’s services the following year.
“It’s really fun interacting with kids and watching them grow,” she said. “Also, I love books and I love sharing that with children.
“One of the really nice things about doing that here is that we’re relatively small,” she added. “That allows me to connect personally with the kids that come here. I know hundreds of kids by their first names.”
Quinn credits colleague Ellen Cutter for establishing the community ties she has continued to develop with schools, the park district, the police department and the fire department. Cutter is the head of outreach at the River Forest library and served as interim children’s services librarian for a year.
She also acknowledges the library’s, and her own, commitment to incorporating new technologies for the benefit of patrons, such as the iPads kids can check out programmed with learning games and access to kid-friendly e-books. She considers high-tech gizmos as another tool of the trade.
“I think technology can definitely enhance literacy,” she said. “But I don’t think it has changed the core values that are an essential part of being a children’s librarian. Basically, you’re just trying to instill in children a love of books, a love of reading and a fondness for the library.”