April 19, 2018

Karen Kleckner Keefe | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Innovators

Karen Kleckner Keefe, Deerfield Public Library, ILThe Alchemist

Karen Kleckner Keefe’s brilliance as an “alchemist” has to do with how she “creatively and consistently demonstrates the essential role of the library in the life of the community,” says Mary Pergander, director of the Deerfield Public Library, where Keefe is head of readers’ services and public relations coordinator. Keefe’s talent for making gold was on display, for instance, when she celebrated Teen Read Week with “Iron Chef Deerfield.” It was, she admits, “a blast!” Starring contestants from the high school cooking club, with food donated by Whole Foods, the lively event was featured on the high school TV station.

Keefe, who has “the requisite Nancy Pearl and Jane Austen action figures” in her office, also created chemistry chairing “One Book, One Zip Code,” a communitywide reading program launched last year. Deerfield shares a zip code with two other towns whose residents must pay to purchase library cards. Keefe invited them to join “OBOZ,” for no charge, in a collective reading of Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains. Over the course of a year, residents young and old attended 14 film screenings, discussion groups, and other events related to the title.

While taking suggestions for the next OBOZ book, Keefe collaborates on events like a “Genre Boot Camp,” attended by over 100 librarians, bolstering their readers’ advisory skills. And while she hopes that librarians will be “technology innovators,” her image of the future is—well, books. “I fully expect to see stacks and stacks of lovely print-on-paper books,” she says: “Books with great big pictures for reading aloud,” and ones “for grownups who haven’t forgotten the pleasure of a well-told tale.”


Deerfield Public Library, IL

POSITION Head of Readers’ Services and Public Relations Coordinator

DEGREE MSLIS, University of Illinois at Urbana, 1994

SITE www.onebookonezipcode.org