With a long history—37 years, to be exact—of serving as director of various libraries across the country, Ed Szynaka is on top of things at the Peoria Public Library. A native New Yorker, he attended the State University of New York, Syracuse University and the JFK School of Government, eventually earning a master of library science degree and an advanced studies degree in public administration.

This Vietnam War veteran has been married to his wife, Diane, for 42 years and has three grown children. When not at the library, Szynaka can be found surf fishing, canoeing, gardening, woodworking…or reading. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the man in charge of your local library.

  1. What’s your favorite meal? Anything my wife cooks.
  2. What is your biggest pet peeve? Smoking—my father died of lung cancer.
  3. Who has had the greatest impact on your life? My high school principal, Dr. Moskowitz.
  4. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Sir Christopher Wren. After the Great Fire of London, he was presented with the huge challenge of rebuilding London, especially St. Paul’s Cathedral, and his total commitment and persistence to both build a great building and a great place has always inspired me.
  5. What’s your idea of perfect happiness? Surf fishing at any time and Christmas when the family is all together.
  6. Who are your favorite writers? Ernest Hemingway, James Jones, Norman Mailer and Emily Dickinson.
  7. Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? Fondly, Captain Hornblower and the Hardy Boys.
  8. What book do you think everyone should read? Anything by Carl Sagan.
  9. What’s one thing you should throw away but haven’t? My Model Railroader magazines.
  10. If you could spend one hour doing absolutely anything, what would you do? Watch the sun set at the Grand Canyon. a&s