The Wednesday Journal sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Journal’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Deborah F. Hill
Previous Political Experience: Trustee, River Forest Public Library Board, 2014 – present
Previous/Current Community Involvement: Roosevelt Middle School Store
Education: B.S. and J.D., University of Illinois
1. Why are you running for the River Forest Public Library board?
First, I believe in the importance of libraries in communities. I have been a lifelong user of libraries and for the past 25+ years, the River Forest Public Library. Our Library exists at the center of our community, both geographically and, more importantly, in the role it plays in the lives of our residents. Our Library works with schools to educate and socialize our children, and provides programs and resources that enhance the lives of our adult community.
Second, the Library is in the middle of a long-term project to gain much needed space in its building for the use of the community. The Library is moving mechanical equipment to an outside enclosure and will use the room freed up inside the building to provide space for additional programs and community gatherings that its current space cannot accommodate. As part of this project, the Library will also construct an ADA-compliant family bathroom. As President of the Library Board since 2020, I have been deeply involved in this project and, if reelected to the Board, would bring that experience in seeing the project to completion.
2. What experience and perspectives would you bring to the position and how would they be valuable as an elected official?
I have served as a Library Trustee since June, 2014, in the roles of Secretary, Vice President, and, most recently, as President of the Board. I currently serve on all of the Library Board’s standing committees (Policy, Finance and Facilities) and its ad hoc committee on Strategic Planning and have chaired the Policy Committee. My experience on the Board during earlier construction projects and my professional experience as a real estate attorney are particularly relevant now as the Library completes the renovation of the new community room.
3. What do you believe are some of the greatest challenges facing the library?
Two challenges facing the Library are its Building and Budget.
The main part of the Library building is almost 100 years old. While the building is beautiful and of historic note, its systems and structure require ongoing maintenance and repairs, some of which prove to be costly.
The Library operates on a modest budget, two-thirds of which is used to pay staff salaries and benefits. The Library staff and Board Trustees are diligent stewards of the budget, which is comprised primarily of taxpayer dollars. The Library has been able to fund major capital projects in the recent past without seeking an increase in property taxes or incurring debt.
In order to raise funds outside of taxpayer dollars, the Trustees of the Library Board also serve on the Board of the Library’s Foundation. The Foundation raises charitable donations (non-taxpayer dollars) to support the Library’s mission. This past year, Foundation gifts funded materials to support Children’s Room Storytime, the maintenance of the Anne T. Smedinghoff garden, and a portion of the project to create another community room in the Library.