Member Spotlight - Veronica De Fazio

Conference Program Committee, 2024

July 14, 2023

This week's member spotlight is on Veronica De Fazio. Veronica served as ILA President in 2020 and is the Deputy Director of the Peoria Public Library.

We asked Veronica to tell us a little about herself and answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Veronica.

A little background on Veronica

I come from a family of readers (Dad’s favorite books were about ancient civilizations, Mom loved Harlequin romances) which led to the public library being my favorite destination growing up. It was in an old JCPenny’s building and the youth department was on the second floor. I loved participating in summer reading and was always the kid who wiped out the new bookshelves every time I visited. I was a page, briefly, when I was sixteen but the idea of becoming a librarian never crossed my mind.

Aside from doing library-type things, I oversee the music review section for School Library Journal, as well as write reviews. I also write for the blog Kids Rhythm and Rock which includes children’s music reviews, interviews, music spotlights, and more. I’m also a member of the Children’s Music Network, a fantastic organization for performers, educators, and librarians.

How did you get your start in libraries?

In December of my senior year in college, on the verge of getting a degree in French and International Relations, I came to the realization that a career in translating or international business wasn’t going to suit my, at the time, very shy and introverted personality.

I took every test and read every book available to determine what the best career for me would be and every single one said, “You can be whatever you want!” At that point I started to think about the people in my life who had the biggest impact on me and realized that aside from my parents, those who stood out the most were the librarians at my public library. They had always made me feel safe, respected, and important. They made me feel like what I thought and had to say mattered. That I mattered. And I realized that what I wanted to do was make kids and teens feel the way these folks made me feel.

So, I moved from Michigan to Illinois and went to library school. I spent many wonderful years in Youth Services at the Niles-Maine District Library, Des Plaines Public Library, and Plainfield Public Library before moving into the Deputy Director position at the Peoria Public Library in May 2022.

Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?

Whenever you encounter a problem, always try and come up with some solutions before going to your supervisor. These won’t necessarily be the right solution in the end, but they show that you gave the problem some thought and tried to figure things out yourself rather than waiting for someone to give you all the answers.

Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?

Don’t wait for someone to ask you to get involved in things. If there is a committee that you are interested in or a networking group you’d like to be a part of, don’t be afraid to reach out and express your interest.

When and why did you become a member of ILA?

My profile says since 2014 but I did have intermittent membership from 2002-2013.

How has being a member of ILA helped you professionally? 

Through being involved with ILA I have met an incredible array of talented, wise folks from across the state who I know I can call upon if I have a question, need support, or just need to vent. Having this network of colleagues and friends has proven invaluable time and time again.

What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

I actually have two achievements that I am most proud of. The first is becoming a Youth Services Librarian and accomplishing what I set out to do when I decided to go to library school. Over the years I’ve worked with teen volunteers, teen advisory boards, and done teen programming. Since then I’ve seen many of the teens who considered the library their safe space and the place they could always be themselves grow up and become actors, doctors, educators, parents, and even a stand up comedienne. Knowing that the library played a role in helping them find their place in the world fills me with such a sense of joy.

The other achievement that I am so incredibly proud of, and still can’t quite believe is real, was being the President of ILA. My term began in July 2020 right in the midst of one of the scariest, most uncertain times in recent history. While my time as president wasn’t what I envisioned when I was elected in April 2019, it ended up being more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. Working with staff from libraries of all types across the state as well as RAILS, Heartland and the ILA staff to shepherd our community through the pandemic and the first ever virtual conference was an incredible experience that I will never forget.

Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, audiobook, or all?

I’ll read in any format. If it’s got the title I’m looking for, I’ll take it! I listen to audiobooks once in a while.

Favorite author?

Can. Not. Choose.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?

I would bring books that have special meaning to me. Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel was my favorite book when I was learning to read. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson was the first book that ever made me cry. The Alanna books by Tamora Pierce were the first books that introduced me to the concept of a shero, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was the first book that my sister and I ever bonded over (we both were assigned to read it in high school), and The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory just because.

Cat or Dog?

Both! Although I’ve only had a cat for the past 10 years and he would be very unhappy with my answer.

Favorite film, podcast, or television show?

Star Wars all the way. I still have my 12” Princess Leia doll! My favorite television show is Veronica Mars. I recently re-watched the whole series (and the movie, and the next series) and it held up surprisingly well!

One person you would like to meet, dead or alive why?

I would love to meet Jane Goodall. To have the opportunity to sit with her and hear about her life, her work with chimpanzees and her passion for conservation would be amazing.

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