EVANSTON, IL. – The Evanston Public Library Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that they have named Yolande Wilburn as the Library’s new executive director.
Wilburn brings more than a decade of experience working at all levels in public libraries and will take the helm beginning Nov. 13. As the Library’s new executive director, Wilburn will be responsible for charting the Library’s course by developing a new strategic plan and building relationships throughout Evanston.
“We are delighted that Yolande will be joining us at Evanston Public Library,” Evanston Public Library Board President Tracy Fulce said. “Her record of strategic planning, budgetary management, and staff development is exactly what is needed to support the extraordinary work our staff do on a daily basis.”
Wilburn currently serves as the director of libraries for the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, overseeing the system’s ten locations, $19 million budget, and full-time equivalent staff of 110. As a member of the California Library Association Board of Directors, California Library Association Advocacy and Legislative Committee, and the Califa Board of Directors, the library consortium representing more than 200 California libraries, Wilburn advocates for public library funding and for the coordination of shared services to help libraries expand access to the state’s resources.
Wilburn started her career as a librarian at the Chicago Public Library, where she developed one of the nation’s earliest maker labs, the Innovation Lab at the Harold Washington Library, which won the Social Innovator Award for enabling new forms of personal manufacturing and business opportunities.
Since then, she has served as city librarian in Torrance, California, county librarian in Nevada County, California, and library manager for the Los Angeles County Public Library. She earned her Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University.
Wilburn’s tenure in Nevada County is notable for her strategic work modernizing the library system by implementing technological and infrastructure upgrades, overseeing a significant remodel and the completion of an outdoor amphitheater for the Library, and taking an active role in engaging the community through partnerships and events.
“I am looking forward to expanding collaborations with the city, county, and nonprofits in the community. We should collaborate with partners doing great work to maximize our impact and achieve the best economic, educational, and cultural outcomes for the community,” Wilburn said. “Different communities have different needs, and I’m looking forward to understanding Evanston’s needs and how we can best meet them at the Library.”
Wilburn was selected from a pool of more than 160 applicants in a search process that began late last year with a community-wide survey and drop-in listening sessions asking Evanstonians what they hoped to see in a new director.
“We believe that Yolande’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion on both policy and programmatic levels and her ability to build partnerships will benefit Evanston Public Library in a number of ways,” Fulce said. “I am excited about where we are headed under her leadership.”
For Wilburn, the move to Evanston is a homecoming. She was born and raised in Chicago and lived on Evanston’s south side. It was her family and community ties that prompted her return.
“It will be nice to be back home,” Wilburn said. “I am really looking forward to that.”
Wilburn’s first day at the Evanston Public Library will be Nov. 13. For more information about the Library’s programs and services, visit epl.org.