Dave Hargett's name will forever live on the third floor of the brand new Fountaindale Public Library, but his true legacy lives two floors below.
“Dave was in on the proverbial 'ground floor' of the new library that helped guide the process of bringing the concept to referendum," said Fountaindale's board president Peg Danhoff.
Hargett, a 34-year Bolingbrook resident who succumbed to liver cancer in 2010, was posthumously honored by Fountaindale Public Library officials with a quiet room bearing his name on the third floor of the newly constructed library.
The standing room only tribute, witnessed by family, friends and well wishers last week, stood as a testament to the difference one man’s life can make.
Peg Danhof, president of the Fountaindale Public Library Board of Trustees said she had never met anyone quite like Dave.
"I’ve worked with many volunteers, but none as devoted," she said. "This honor was well deserved.”
In less than five years, from 2006 until his death in 2010, Hargett (upon his retirement from Sears) embraced the spirit of volunteerism, focusing the bulk of his attention on the creation of a new library.
Hargett, an avid reader himself and lifetime member of the Friends of the Fountaindale Public Library, harbored a love of local libraries that stemmed from his childhood.
But his passion for books went into overdrive during his years at Birmingham Southern College.
Pursuing a double major in English and History required Hargett to do what he most loved, delve into books—lots of them.
Hargett enjoyed reading so much that he began keeping a running tally. From the time he started counting during the late 1960s until June 2010, just two months before he passed away, he had reached a total of 2,818,111 pages, representing 7,895 books.
“He was very proud of those statistics,” says his pastor, Sharon Engert of Friendship United Methodist Church. “Giving back to the community was what he loved doing most. As involved as he was in the church, the library seemed a natural place for him to focus his energy.”
Hargett attended every board meeting as a concerned citizen for two years and engaged in forums to promote the idea of a new library. In 2007, he joined the citizens advisory committee, was elected chairman and worked diligently to promote the passage of the controversial referendum.
In early 2008, he helped people understand how badly library upgrades were needed. Using a poster illustrating updates made on many of Bolingbrook's public facilities, he rallied support that would later assist in getting the referendum passed.
Hargett was appointed to the library's board in 2008 following the resignation of board member Isaac Palmer. He was immediately appointed as chairman of the building committee.
“As soon as Dave became a library trustee, he threw himself into the role with enthusiasm and dedication," Danhoff said. "He attended workshops and conferences, and did everything he could to educate himself so he could discharge his responsibilities as a library trustee to the best of his ability.”
In April 2009, Hargett ran and was elected to a full six year term as library trustee.
From 2008 until his death in 2010, Hargett served as a member of the Website Advisory Committee for the American Library Association. He also served as appointed Chairman of the Website Advisory Committee for ALA/ALTA (American Library Association /Association of Library Trustees and Advocates).
Tony Lucarelli, Adult and Youth Librarian Dave said Hargett "was a tireless worker, promoting the value and importance of libraries today."
In June, Hargett will receive the American Library Association's highest honor—a posthumous citation rendered at the opening session of its annual conference.
There to collect the citation will be his devoted widow, Jody, who married Dave Hargett in 1975.
“We’re saddened that Dave is not here to see how the original seed he nurtured grew into this beautiful new library in the park," Danhoff said. "I’m honored to dedicate this room in his name, knowing his love of reading will be carried on by everyone who enjoys this quiet space."