ST. CHARLES – Diana Brown – whose name for some is synonymous with the St. Charles Public Library – celebrated 39 years of service Sunday during a retirement reception held in her honor.
"It's just been a wonderful, wonderful experience," Brown said.
Brown, who has served as library director for 35 years, is retiring at the end of the year.
In a brief program, representatives from the St. Charles Public Library District Board of Trustees, St. Charles Public Library Foundation and the city commended Brown for her service.
"We simply cannot thank you enough, Diana," said Roman Seckel, foundation president.
Mayor Ray Rogina read from a proclamation honoring Brown's dedication and leadership to the community.
"Diana Brown's leadership has caused the St. Charles Public Library to become an integral part of the fabric and culture of the city of St. Charles," Rogina said. "… Diana Brown has accomplished all of this while leading with creativity, foresight, respect and integrity."
With her 6-month-old grandson, George, never too far away, Brown spent the reception greeting well-wishers, including Anne Craig, the director of the Illinois State Library at Illinois Secretary of State.
The St. Charles High School alumna said her parents – both librarians – were good friends with Brown. She was "beyond kind" to them when they got older, Craig said, noting she and her brother had moved out of town.
"She is just a dear, dear, dear person," Craig said. "I know the community benefits tremendously from her spirit of giving."
Pam Salomone, the library's communications and marketing manager, said Brown does what she does from the heart – not so that she can receive accolades.
"It's been an honor to work with her," Salomone said.
Youth Services Manager A. Denise Farrugia said in 25 years her department has grown both in staff – three employees to 16 – and in collection size, which is over 140,000 items. She said Brown enabled the growth by fully supporting the department so that it could be responsive to the community's needs.
Farrugia described the St. Charles Public Library and community as "such a perfect fit" for Brown, and Salomone added that – for many – the library and Brown are interchangeable.
"Everything the library is is because of Diana," library board President Tory Haines said.
Colin Brown – Brown's son – said his mother's work with the library was an avenue for her to serve the community.
"We're all proud of her," he said.
Morton Grove Public Library Director Pam Leffler has been chosen as Brown's successor. She is expected to begin Jan. 2.