Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0274
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Full Text of HR0274  102nd General Assembly




HR0274LRB102 18329 LAW 26083 r


2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois House of
3Representatives are saddened to learn of the death of Leonard
4J. Kniffel of Lincoln Park, who passed away on March 19, 2021;
6    WHEREAS, Leonard J. Kniffel was born in Mt. Clemens,
7Michigan on August 25, 1947; he was raised by his grandmother
8in rural Michigan; he attended Armada Area Schools; he
9graduated from Oakland University and moved to Detroit in
101970; he earned his master's degree in English and his
11master's degree in Library Science at Wayne State University
12in 1975, during which time he worked as a page at the Detroit
13Public Library; and
14    WHEREAS, Leonard Kniffel worked as a librarian at the
15Detroit Public Library for 18 years; during his tenure, he
16traveled extensively as a journalist and ambassador for
17reading by reporting on the annual conferences of the
18International Federation of Library Associations and
19Institutions, which took him across Europe, Asia, Africa, and
20South America; he was active in programming and outreach to
21the public, reviewed books for Library Journal, and wrote
22articles about books for local newspapers and magazines; while
23working in the library's language and literature department,



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1he became active in the local literary scene and established
2his own small publishing operation, Fallen Angel Press, and
3published some dozen poetry chapbooks from 1974 to 1982; he
4was one of the founders of the Poetry Resource Center (PRC) of
5Michigan, the editor of the PRC Newsletter, and an organizer
6of the annual Michigan Poetry Festival; at the same time, he
7became involved in historic preservation, photography, and
8video; and
9    WHEREAS, Leonard Kniffel joined the staff of American
10Libraries, the flagship magazine of the American Library
11Association (ALA), in Chicago in 1988; he became the managing
12editor in 1989; he served as the editor-in-chief from 1996 to
132011; he oversaw the magazine during a time of change, helping
14create a modernized website, an online library career center
15called ALA JobLIST: Jobs in Library and Information Science
16and Technology, a weekly electronic newsletter titled American
17Libraries Direct, a video operation, and a web-first
18publishing model in response to the declining advertising base
19for print; he wrote numerous news reports, feature articles,
20and editorials on issues ranging from censorship to public
21service; he also blogged for ALA's website; he published many
22photographs in the magazine, including the 1992 cover photo of
23members from ALA's Gay and Lesbian Task Force marching in the
24Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco; he was the creator and
25publisher of the ALA's @ your library public awareness website



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1(; he was especially proud of producing
2the video documentary Loss and Recovery, which covered
3librarians who witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks; he
4retired from ALA in 2012; and
5    WHEREAS, Leonard Kniffel was an author and blogger; he
6wrote the travel memoir A Polish Son in the Motherland: An
7American's Journey Home in 2005; he published Reading with the
8Stars: A Celebration of Books and Libraries in 2011, which
9featured interviews he conducted over ten years with such
10luminous library advocates as President Barack Obama,
11entertainers Julie Andrews and Jamie Lee Curtis, Microsoft
12founder Bill Gates, First Lady Laura Bush, and basketball
13legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; he produced Musicals on the Silver
14Screen in 2013; he wrote two memoirs titled Busia: Seasons on
15the Farm with My Polish Grandmother and Busia: School Days on
16the Farm with my Polish Grandmother; he ran the blog Polish Son
17(, where he wrote about Poland and shared
18recipes and stories about his family and articles about
19libraries; and
20    WHEREAS, Leonard Kniffel was proud of his Polish heritage
21and became focused on the Polish Diaspora in later years; he
22was involved in the formation of the Jan Karski Educational
23Foundation, and he was part of the effort to secure the
24Presidential Medal of Freedom for Karski and was at the White



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1House when President Obama presented the award posthumously in
22011; he became the executive director of the Chicago-based
3Polish American Librarians Association (PALA) and a member of
4the Board of Directors of the Polish Museum of America (PMA) in
52014; he published Poland & the Holocaust, an extensive
6reading list on the PALA website, in 2015; and
7    WHEREAS, Leonard Kniffel supported many charitable and
8educational institutions; he enjoyed traveling with his
9spouse, and he especially enjoyed visiting France and Poland;
11    WHEREAS, Leonard Kniffel was a leader in the
12Polish-American and LGBTQ+ communities who was driven by his
13sense of curiosity and spontaneity; he will be missed; and
14    WHEREAS, Leonard Kniffel is survived by his life partner
15of almost 43 years, Carlon B. Walker; dozens of cousins; and
16his many friends and relatives in the U.S., Poland, England,
17and elsewhere around the world; therefore, be it
20we mourn the passing of Leonard J. Kniffel and extend our
21sincere condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew
22and loved him; and be it further



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1    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
2presented to the family of Leonard Kniffel as an expression of
3our deepest sympathy.