Womack serves as Ela Library director, ambassador
Lake Zurich- A quiet room full of light and comfortable surroundings to just sit and read. Matt Womack, is the executive director of Ela Area Public Library, a post he took over in January. . | Joe Cyganowski ~ For Sun Times Media
Matt Womack acknowledges his perception of the public library system may appear a bit idealistic.
Yet he remains steadfast in the belief that the institution is one of the reasons that “made this country great,” explained Womack, the executive director of Ela Area Public Library.
Womack points to an uncle — one of the most influential people in his life — as proof of how access to information is life changing.
He said his uncle grew up of modest means and turned to a local public library for the resources he couldn’t obtain on his own.
Now, Womack’s uncle is a successful business owner of a public relations firm in Washington, D.C.
“He went to the public library for all of the things that helped him learn and to be a good student,” Womack said. “Libraries aren’t just books.
“They provide equitable access to information for everyone.”
Womack took over as the executive director of Ela Library in January after working for two years as a library director in Lake Bluff.
He’s no stranger to the Lake Zurich institution, however. Prior to working in Lake Bluff, Womack was Ela Library’s head of technical services for seven years.
He said he was happy to return to the library, where he could work in a first-class facility with a talented management team.
Plus, he had really took a liking to the community and had joined the local Rotary Club despite residing in Streamwood. With his wife, Kelly, and their three-year-old son, Connor, the Womack’s are now looking to relocate to Lake Zurich.
Since his first day back in 2003, Womack said he was attracted to Ela Library’s pursuit to be on the forefront of innovation.
From the introduction of telephones to the advent of the computer age, libraries have constantly adjusted their services to accommodate the wants and needs of patrons, Womack said.
“The library is a reflection of community at large,” he said.
The challenge, however, is keeping up in a fast-paced digitized world.
Womack said Ela Library goes above and beyond what is traditionally thought of as library services.
Two digital media labs, for example, provide patrons with equipment to edit audio and video projects, convert home videos to DVD, and scan photos.
Electronic book readers are also available for a three-week checkout for those who wish to “test-drive” the devices, Womack said.
The library also offers courses that range from the basics of using a keyboard to surfing the internet and creating an e-mail account.
Though the tools people use to get information are changing, Womack believes the library’s mission to provide meaningful resources to the public will always remain the same.
“Public libraries as an institution give people access to things they wouldn’t be able to get on their own,” Womack said. “Technology doesn’t change that.”