Dempsey to be replaced as head of Chicago Public Library

January 25, 2012

Michell Eloy

(Photo by Michell Eloy)
Emanuel introduces in-coming public library commissioner Brian Bannon (left) with out-going commissioner Mary Dempsey (right).

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans Wednesday to replace long-time Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey.

Dempsey will be succeeded by Brian Bannon, who's currently serving as Chief Information Officer at the San Francisco Public Library.

Dempsey said leaving her position as the library commissioner was not the decision of Mayor Emanuel, but her own. After heading the city's library system for 18 years, Dempsey said she told Emanuel last November she'd eventually be stepping down at the end of January.

Her resignation comes amidst turmoil surrounding millions of dollars in cuts to the library's budget, as well as staff layoffs and reductions in operating hours that have taken place under Emanuel.

But Wednesday, Dempsey had nothing but kind words to say to Emanuel and former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"I'm grateful to two mayors, certainly Mayor Richard M. Daley for asking me to take on this position. I thought I'd lost two years, and it became so intoxicating I couldn't leave," said Dempsey. "I'm grateful to Mayor Emanuel for asking me to stay on in his administration, for working through our issues around funding and hours."

During budget talks last year, Emanuel had wanted to cut more than $10 million from the system's budget and cut library hours on Monday and Friday mornings.

The mayor has since lightened his initial proposals after backlash from the city's aldermen, library employees and union officials.