Niles Library trustee abruptly resigns at April 20 board meeting

Danette Matyas says she has considered resignation for the past 6 months

By Igor Studenkov | Bugle Staff

Danette Matyas surprised her fellow Niles Public Library trustees when she announced her resignation at the end of the April 20 board meeting.

The resignation took effect the next morning. Matyas told the board that between her other commitments it didn’t leave her enough time for the library. She told the Bugle that she will continue to serve on the village of Niles Board of Trustees.

Matyas has been a library trustee since 2011. In her profile on the library website, she said the library resources helped her earn her degree, which is why she wanted to give back and make Niles Library a draw for all residents.

“With technology changing daily, I want to be sure the library is providing programs that are useful and helpful to all age groups,” she wrote. “We want our patrons to continue to come into our library whether it is for programs of interest or to just sit, relax and read a book.”

During her time on the board, Matyas tended to vote in favor of lower taxes and more fiscally conservative spending in library services and operations.

After the April 2015 election, which saw incumbents Morgan Dubiel and Chris Ball lose their seats to Tim Spadoni and Patti Rozanski, the majority of the board was made up of trustees more in favor of creating new positions and expanding services.

Matyas found herself at odds with the majority on several occasions. She expressed concerns about the way the board handled the planning process for the fiscal 2016 budget, arguing that the board didn’t have a chance to give the spending plan proper scrutiny. She also opposed raising the library’s tax levy, arguing that trustees had the fiduciary duty to manage money responsibly and reduce the tax burden as much as possible.

Matyas told the Bugle that she’d been thinking about leaving the library for the past six months. She said her responsibilities as a village trustee, as well as her work commitments, have taken up more and more of her time. She added that leaving a job she couldn’t fully commit to would only be fair.

Board President Linda Ryan thanked Matyas for her service, while library director Susan Lempke said that she’ll miss her voice at the meetings.

Board Vice President Karen Dimond joined in the praise.

“This is sad news, but I do appreciate all that you have done,” she said. “And, you did tend to keep us honest.”

Matyas’ mother, Joanne O’Donovan, passed away March 25. While the departing trustee said that it wasn’t what made her decide to resign, the aftermath of her mother’s passing added to the responsibilities she had to juggle.

Trustee Barbara Nakanishi said she understood how her mother’s passing could realign Matyas’ priorities.

“When you lose someone, you do look at how you spend your time,” Nakanishi said.

While the trustees asked Matyas if she’d be willing to come back during the next regular meeting to get a proper send-off, she demurred, saying that she resigned the way she did precisely because she wanted her departure to be low-key.

“But you never know – I might come sit [in],” Matyas added.

The library board must now appoint another trustee to serve out the remainder of Matyas’ term, which expires in June 2017.

For now, Matyas said she planned to focus on her responsibilities at the village. And, she joked that she would definitely be back in the library soon.

“I need to get my library card [in order],” she said. “I don’t know if it expired.”

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