I would like to introduce myself to the people I am asking to entrust me with the care of our community’s public libraries.

My name is Matthew Fruth and I have lived in Oak Park my whole life. I attended Ascension grade school, Fenwick High School, and Dominican University. During those years I frequently took advantage of the numerous research resources available at our public libraries. In recent years, my academic use of the libraries has been enhanced by my expanded personal use.

While I have the utmost respect for the work the present board has accomplished in recent years I think that it is time for a fresh perspective on the Library’s approach to our service to the community. High school and college students are a significant part of the user base of our public libraries.

I feel it is important that someone with recent memory of being a student serve on the board. Young people deserve representation because they will be affected for years to come by policies and programs implemented now.

The current board has done what they can to address what they feel are the concerns of the younger patrons, but there has always been a cultural and communication gap. It is time that a voice is present to vocalize their continuously changing needs.

As we push further into this information age the role and value of public access to educational tools increases exponentially. A major part of that education is the ready and free access to our public libraries. The internet may be the next frontier of education, but what is greater than seeing a child discover the next part of a story as they turn the page of a book? Books allow us to take a more definite ownership of the knowledge we gain. Sorting through stacks of texts afford us the opportunity to feel that we have earned our accomplishments instead of just typing some words into a search engine. Moreover, providing diverse resources from books to periodicals to internet accessibility, particularly to those who cannot afford them, is now the primary responsibility of our libraries.

Let us not forget the fact that our libraries also are wonderful facilities for groups to meet that would not otherwise have such accommodations. The more our community gathers the stronger our connections become and the more unified and lasting our village becomes.

I look forward to this election season and the discussions of important issues that it will bring. Those of us who run “down ballot” are often overlooked, but I think it is time that we ask for the same chance to make our case.

If anyone would like to contact me I can be reached by e-mail at fruth4books@hotmail.com or by phone at (708) 606-4164.

Matthew Fruth
Candidate for Oak Park Library Board

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