The Oak Park Public Library in recent years has completed most of the biggest moves it will ever make: passing a referendum to build the beautiful new Main Branch while operating a temporary location in Forest Park, renovating the Maze and Dole branches, and hiring a new executive director.

All these accomplishments have occurred at least partly because of the current leadership on the library board.

To keep the library and that board heading in the right direction, we endorse Janet Kelenson, Elizabeth Guillette and Lane Hart.

Janet Kelenson has served on the board since 1991 – practically a life’s mission. While her commitment cannot be questioned, we have mixed feelings about such longevity on any board. In general, we believe you should serve your time and move on, letting qualified new voices be heard with new visions and new energy.

But Kelenson’s dedication to the library is unusual, as is her knowledge of its issues and history. We liked the energy she exudes talking about ways the library can provide lifelong learning opportunities to help schools close the minority student achievement gap – and how the library might find cost savings by working not only with other local taxing bodies but with libraries in nearby suburbs as well.

Elizabeth Guillette is a professional librarian and active, involved citizen. We like her ideas on helping connect businesses with information, and searching for new revenues to expand library services.

And every board needs a charming curmudgeon. We believe Lane Hart will fill that role as a trustee who questions everything and embodies the board’s fiscal conscience. He’s been a member of the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library since 1994 and president of that board since 1999. Hart doesn’t think the library board should approve budget deficits – we agree. Although its share of property tax bills is relatively small, every board needs to do its part to hold down taxes.

John Hayes has served the community well in two terms on the library board, spending some of that time as its president. We do not endorse his candidacy because, unlike Kelenson, his arguments for returning to the board are not as compelling in this field of strong candidates. We believe fresh perspectives will keep the library moving on an ever-improving track.

We recognize Charlie Rossiter as a valuable, contributing member of the library community and believe his input on library programming is valuable. We hope his enthusiasm for libraries rubs off on everyone in the village. His experience is not as strong as the other candidates, but we encourage him to run again in the future.

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