From Jean Wilkins to Anne Craig

Jean Wilkins’ final day as Director was Dec. 17, 2004. In her nearly six years in the position, the State Library made tremendous gains in digital offerings, including Find-It! Illinois and SILC. She also introduced OCLC group services to Illinois libraries, which streamlined service and reduced costs. In addition, Wilkins aggressively pursued grants as alternative funding sources, including those from the Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.1004

Wilkins’ retirement was met with regret by her employees, who appreciated the outgoing Director’s personal touch and sunny disposition. A reception was held nine days before her retirement and attracted a crowd of 300 well-wishers. An integral part of the community, Wilkins’ final day was declared “Jean Wilkins Day” in the city of Springfield.1005

Wilkins, in turn, appreciated the opportunities given to her in her quarter-century with the State Library. “I’ve been incredibly lucky, because I always loved my work, no matter what position I was in,” said Wilkins. “When I was in OCLC, I thought it was the greatest job I could have, and then when I moved on to Assistant Director, I thought that was the greatest job, too. I felt the same way about being the Director. Some days were better than others, of course, but I always tried to find the good, and I really can’t say that I ever had a bad day on the job at the State Library.”1006

Chief Deputy Director Mike Ragen was named Acting Director until a permanent replacement was found. Again, the State Library did not have to look far. Anne Craig had left a lasting mark with her outstanding work in automation and technology in her years as ILLINET/OCLC Network coordinator. Her own engaging nature made her a natural fit for the Director’s position. Craig’s first day as Director was May 1, 2005. She immediately demonstrated a commitment to continuing Wilkins’ technological advance in Illinois libraries.1007

“Anne has great gifts,” said Wilkins. “She has very good intuitive skills, and she is an excellent organizer. There are many skills that she brings to her job, which she has shown, and continues to show. She also has such a great personality for the job, which is even more important.”1008

A St. Charles, Illinois, native, Craig hailed from a family of librarians, with both parents and a brother engaged in library science. Craig’s own love of what she calls “the gentle profession” has been conveyed to everyone around her. In libraries, said Craig, “you could always grow intellectually and learn about the differences in beliefs and interests.”1009