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.

Eleanor Long

Name: Eleanor A. (Elan) Long

Age: 67

Previous Political Experience:  trustee, River Forest Public Library

Previous/Current Community Involvement:  League of Women Voters – OPRF; First United Church of Oak Park; Oak Park Tennis Center, Illinois Library Association

Occupation:  Retired, technology business strategy and management

Education: B.A. with Distinction, University of Virginia; M.B.A., Columbia University in the City of New York

1. Why are you running for the River Forest Public Library board? 

I believe public libraries are essential for informed citizens and civil society and that they must be effective stewards of public resources to survive and thrive.  I am running for reelection because I:

  • value our library and the contribution it makes to our community
  • bring skills and experience of value to the board
  • can commit time and energy to keeping the library strong and effective

I would like to help ensure the successful completion of several initiatives including the conversion of a mechanicals room to program space, a new strategic plan, and improved board development to ensure needed skills and perspectives are represented.

2. What experience and perspectives would you bring to the position and how would they be valuable as an elected official? 

My strengths in listening, research, synthesizing information, and communications are helpful in ensuring that the Board is serving our community and the library effectively.   During my term, I have worked to develop a deeper understanding of public library strengths, challenges and opportunities and of library trustee responsibilities.  For most of my business career, I’ve worked with growth stage and start-up technology-driven businesses on strategy, marketing and operations.  In those environments, it’s essential to get the maximum benefit from every resource available.  It’s important to be able to look ahead, to understand what’s essential and to make tough choices about how to use your resources–and to be very focused on the elements critical to your success.  Those same principles apply to our library as it works to make the most of the resources provided to effectively provide services that are valued by our community and that are best provided by the public library. 

3. What do you believe are some of the greatest challenges facing the library?

The two most obvious challenges for RFPL are facilities and funding.  Both are important as the library works to make the most of its historic building and central location with collections, services and programs that educate, inspire and connect people in the face of costs that are rising far faster than revenue from local property taxes.

An important but less obvious challenge is the impact of people’s perceptions of what libraries actually do in today’s world and of the River Forest community itself.  The New York Times recently called public libraries “the beating hearts of our communities.”  Our community is far more diverse than many people think and our library has the challenge of breaking through traditional mindsets to build understanding of what it actually does for us and how valuable that truly is.

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