What qualifies you to serve on the library board and what motivated your interest in the position?
I grew up in Oak Park, graduated from OPRFHS in 2009, Bradley University in 2013 and have lived/owned a business in Oak Park for the past 4 years. The community has done so much for me and now I want to get involved in the decisions to help improve our community for the next generation. More specifically I decided to run for library board because I care a lot about our three libraries and there are some things I would like to get done on the board. 
  1. Re-Implement a teen section at the main library
  2. Create a Jr. Library board made up of high school and middle school students
  3. Further connect the libraries business resources with the business community.
  4. Bring a fresh and diverse perspective to the board.  

The library recently implemented a social worker program that replaced private security guards at the library with in-house social workers. What are your thoughts concerning this change?

I believe it’s still to early to tell exactly how the changes are effecting the safety and comfort of the library. However, the results I have seen have been overwhelmingly positive. Children/teens respond to relationships. The old system of outsourced security guards and out of touch disciplinarians was not working and the new team is focused on getting to know the library patrons at a more personal level. I am excited to give my input to create policies that make the library safer and more open to everyone.  

 

The library is currently paying down bond debt for construction of the Main Library. Should the library reduce its tax burden on residents once the bond debt is retired and if so how? Should cuts be made to existing library initiatives to further reduce the tax burden? If so, which ones specifically?

The Library should definitely reduce its tax burden on residents. Thanks to a financially responsible community and board the library has been able to pay down its bond debt. I believe tax payers should be able to enjoy the benefits of a fiscally responsible board and we can do that by reducing our tax burden.  Finally, as of now I do not believe further cuts are necessary.

The library is considering eliminating late fines for books. Do you support this initiative? If so, why? What else can the library do to increase outreach to patrons?

I am in full support of the new late fine policy. The policy will eliminate the fear of bringing back overdue books for people that don’t have the money to pay or are not interested in paying. Fines created a barrier and removing them will allow greater access to residents. The result will be improved community relations between the library and Oak Parkers. As of now I don’t anticipate any unintended consequences. However, it’s very important that we continue to monitor this program as it is being implemented. As a board member I will suggest that after 6 months we do a stakeholder analysis to see how the policy is playing out in reality for our patrons.

What else can the library do to increase outreach to patrons? 

There are many opportunities for the Library to increase outreach to our patrons and residents. Specifically I would like to foster greater collaboration with the business community and struggling students. The library can work closely with the OPRFHS School of Business and share the tremendous amount of historical data, business books and more with young entrepreneurs. This will ensure that young entrepreneurs understand the pros, cons and industry information they need to start a business. In addition, the library can be at the forefront of the “attack the gap” initiative to decrease the achievement gap in our schools. Working closely with the school boards we can identify struggling students and offer them the tutoring and mentoring the library already has to offer.

What should the library be doing to move beyond its traditional mission of loaning books, DVDs and other materials?

We are at a critical time in the history of libraries in our community and our country as a whole. People are consuming more information on a daily basis than at any point in our history all while reading books less and less. The decisions made in library board rooms across our country over the next five to ten years will directly effect whether libraries remain pillars of knowledge in our communities. Our library needs to become a center of knowledge for the community as opposed to dispensing the knowledge as they have in the past. The library must encourage residents to use the library as a meeting, learning and development space. In addition, the library can expand its technological resources with the implementation of a recording studio or smart learning lab. Lastly, the library can be at the forefront of connecting entrepreneurs with the resources they need to start their business. The library has a tremendous amount of historical data and books on every business subject; if these resources are connected to the right people we can create a thriving business community.

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