OAK PARK LIBRARY board (3 open seats)

Virginia D. Bloom-Scheirer | Colleen Burns | Theodore N. Foss



candidate for 2019 oak park library board

1. What motivates you to seek this office? What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the Board, and why would those contributions be valuable to the Library?

My motivation for running for Library Trustee is a desire to be actively involved in my community and work towards protecting one of our most valuable public resources. We chose to settle in Oak Park because of its outstanding sense of community and I am delighted to be a part of that.

I have spent most of my career in public service. I will bring my experience in federal and state government and expertise in policy matters to the Board. I have been an effective public servant because of my ability to empathize, learn from every person I meet, and connect people and ideas based on their needs and strengths.

2. What do you think makes an effective Library Trustee?

A Trustee should be comfortable showing compassion and respect for different points of view while remaining true to personal values. A Trustee should be able to discuss complex policy issues and seek opportunities for compromise to achieve the greatest good.

3. What is your understanding of the purpose of the Library Board? What do you see as the appropriate relationship between the Library Board and Library staff?

The Board’s primary responsibility is to steer the operation of the library in a way that is consistent with the needs of the community. The Board and Library staff should have a working relationship, one that is seen as mutually beneficial.

4. When in your experience have you had to balance competing interests? What process did you use? What did you learn?

In 2014, I was responsible for leading over 35 working groups that comprised more than 950 stakeholders representing the healthcare industry, the insurance industry, medical professionals, and other interested parties. I was responsible for helping each working group develop a charter, stay on target, and ensure there was “cross-pollination” among the groups. Our efforts resulted in the development of the Alliance for Health Plan, a consensus-built blueprint for health policy changes. Consensus was reached through mutual respect and open-mindedness.

5. What does transparency in government mean to you? How would you put it into practice?

Transparency means open lines of communication at all levels.  It is imperative to not just use the normal channels (website, email, etc.) but also continue to explore alternative means of communicating with our community.

6. As more of our local discourse happens in social media, what is your view on how local elected officials should communicate with and respond to constituents? How will you engage with the breadth of the community, and not just the voices that are loudest or easiest to find?

Constituent services is a critical part of any elected official’s job. As a Trustee, I would welcome any opportunity to engage with a constituent. To me, engaging with the community also means being an “ambassador” for the Library and being an active participant in events and offerings.

7. In what ways have you sought to better know and understand the concerns and needs of residents outside your demographic group (specifically the demographic groups of race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status)?

I strive to be an ally, a good listener, and someone who is always learning from others.

8. In recent years the Library has shown leadership in undertaking a number of cutting edge initiatives, replacing security guards with social workers, paying part-time employees a living wage, and eliminating late fees for borrowers. How would you continue or expand this work?

These are all wonderful initiatives. In addition, I would like to work on new methods of communication. When I moved to Oak Park, I learned about the Library through the Book Bike (an amazing resource!) but I would like to explore how to expand our communication efforts.

9. How do you define equity? Do you favor implementing a formal equity lens/framework at the Library, and if so, what specifics should that policy include?

I would be in favor of implementing a formal equity lens/framework at the Library. It would serve as an important reminder to consider the impact of Board actions and decision-making on underserved and underrepresented groups. Specifically, I would ensure that there is a process for continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of the framework and adapt the strategies accordingly.

10. What should and shouldn’t change about the services provided by the Library going forward, in an era of radical changes in how people can find and consume information?

The Library has incredible digital offerings, but I was unaware of them until very recently. I would like to explore new ways of communicating all that the Library has to offer to residents.

11. Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.


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[The above answers were supplied on 2/13/19. It may be possible to find more current financial information at the Illinois Sunshine website. Illinois Sunshine is also a useful resource for identifying past contributions by individuals to political candidates and committees in Illinois.]