Jon Bednerik is just no good at retiring.
The longtime lobbyist and economic development specialist retired roughly a year ago as executive director of the Englewood-Cape Haze Chamber of Commerce but this month has begun a new rsum chapter as executive director of the Johann Fust Community Library in Boca Grande.
Here's how Bednerik sees the renovation and other library issues unfolding:
QUESTION: Why take the Boca Grande job?
ANSWER: I don't seem to be very good at retiring. I thought I needed to do something where I was professionally challenged. If I could do it in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and positive attitude, so much the better. They used a search consultant and I was most impressed with the process (laughs).
Q: Where is the $1.4 million library renovation process at as you step in the door?
Jon Bednerik at a glance
Occupation: executive director of the Johann Fust Library Foundation with 40 years experience in not-for-profit management. Has been a newspaper reporter, worked for a regional book publisher, was a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and managing director for Orlando office overseeing four associations.
Hometown: New Jersey as infant but grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Residence: Punta Gorda
Family: married 46 years with one daughter
Education: graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park and completed three years at Vanderbilt University School of Law
Professional connections: President of the Florida Society of Association Executives in 2002 and chairman of the FSAE Foundation in 2007. Peer reviewer for the American Society of Association Executives and designated a certified association executive in 1989. Executive director of several trade and professional associations.
Hobbies: A long-time sailor, Bednerik said he would like to find a slip on Boca Grande to visit when sailing here.
Discovered Boca Grande: I'm going to say it was 15 years ago. We were in California and I accepted a position in Sarasota with the Florida Swimming Pool & Spa Association and we were getting to know the area and exploring. We came to see Boca Grande, its lighthouse and charming little village on our list of easy day trips.
A: The focus is on the renovation of that beautiful building. That building means a lot to this island and community for culture and as a resource center and iconic representation of architecture.
Q: Is the renovation on target?
A: We are on target for the contractor's stated completion date of March 31 for the building certificate of occupancy. Now, you know our collection is in storage and the reference room from the Boca Grande Community Center has got to move so when we start serving the public again with books and services will be somewhat after that. There will be a soft opening first and a formal opening celebration in the fall. It's going to be a spectacular day.
Q: Was all the money for this project raised on island or was support derived from any other funding source?
A: It was all done with personal contributions from the community. That's what makes it special.
Q: Anything new to come of the renovated library that hasn't already been reported?
A: We haven't acquired a Fust Library Bookmobile yet. I'm looking for someone to provide a golf cart. This will not to be to deliver books or pick up books.
Q: Most of your jobs have been in economic development. How is this one different and how is it the same?
A: I have a history of joining organizations in transition. Much of my career has been as a representative of any organization - the lobbyist or executive director. In this case they are drawing on my experience in nonprofit management and governance.
Q: What was your initial impression of the Fust leadership?
A: What they're bringing to the table is community involvement and an active commitment that you don't normally find in trade or professional association work. So this is a very special place with very special people. What they have focused on right now, of course, is the renovation but when the work is done this spring, the Foundation's role will be very different than what it was.
Q: How will the Fust Community Library Foundation role evolve?
A: It was previously the operator of the library. Its role will somewhat evolve with this wonderful partnership with Lee County's library administration merging two resources into a much stronger resource for residents and visitors.
Q: What is the future of the Fust Library in your estimation?
A: It's more of a program content provider. I haven't had that conversation with the board after just 12 days on the job so it's a little premature to discuss. But I'm in a position of transition and they are in a stage of transition so we'll work together on it.
Q: As the new library executive, I have to ask: What's your favorite book?
A: Ah, good question. They asked me that in the interview. I read a little of everything. When I was a teenager, my pilgrimage to the local library was virtually every day. I would return with an armload of books out of the new book section and it really didn't matter what the titles were. I'd take them home and devour them. There is no such thing as a bad book although there are books you can put down pretty fast (laughs).
Q: You never did say a favorite book. Do you have one?
A: My favorite may be "Catch-22." There's something ironical about the characters in the situations that somehow seems bigger than just a war story.
Q: Your current book?
A: "The Headmaster's Wager" (by Vincent Lam).
Q: Do you enjoy using Kindles?
A: I've tried Kindles and they are OK but there's still something about holding a book in your hands.