RESPONSES TO THE OPCTA QUESTIONNAIRE
What motivates you to seek this office? Have you participated in public service in the past? If so, how? If not, why now? What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the board, and why would those contributions be valuable for the Library?
I began my commitment to public service more than 16 years ago working for Senator Richard Durbin. Since then, I have become a leader in non-profit fundraising and community relations. I work to make social services providers, education programs and arts and cultural organizations more sustainable and effective. I’ve been fortunate to focus my career on supporting local community partners and believe my experience can be an asset to the library.
I have not sought public office before. I have reached a place in my career and with my family where I felt that I had the time and experience to make a commitment to improving our village government.
I currently direct the community investment team at United Airlines, managing our global non-profit partnerships. I hold organizations accountable to their goals and budgets, drive collaboration across sectors and ensure efficiency. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to support our Oak Park Library staff in providing exceptional programming. It also prepares me to craft effective policy and promote transparent financial management.
Would you describe yourself as an agent of social change? Why or why not?
I have had the opportunity to participate in several projects that have made significant impact in the communities they serve. However, I would not say that I am an independent agent of social change. I’ve been honored to support the work of many non-profit leaders that have had vision and truly understand the catalysts for change in their neighborhoods and schools. I’ve enhanced their work by bringing together the people and resources to help them build capacity, analyze their data and focus their efforts to drive better outcomes. I would say instead, that I work to support agents of social change and hope that my knowledge and experience will help them continue to make our region better.
Do you feel there are communities or groups the Library has failed to sufficiently engage? If so, what initiatives would you advocate to promote increased engagement?
I think that the library could be doing more to sufficiently engage young adults in the village and better solicit their feedback. We must work with our young adults to develop resources that will spark their curiosity, reward their commitment and even support them with opportunities for jobs and internships. The young adult librarian has begun outreach through the high school and is making strides to develop a more structured dialogue to support our pre-teen and teen patrons, however, the library can and should do more in partnership with the Oak Park Park District, the Township, D97 and D200. If I am elected, I’d like to support the young adult library by advocating to create a village youth corps that is invested in our community programs, not only to develop a strategy for the investment in technology and services at the library but to better support our teens with services across village governmental organizations. The future of Oak Park will be stronger if we work with our youth to build the community and understand first-hand what challenges they face and what resources could support their goals.
How will you work to foster collaboration between the Library and other governmental organizations?
We need to continue to break down the silos between village taxing bodies to collaborate and be creative about solutions. I think it is important to not only serve the residents by attending Library Trustee meetings and community events, but to be actively engaged in the meetings and committees in organizations across the village to understand how we can become more efficient and effective. I plan to be in frequent communication with other elected officials and to attend their meetings whenever possible. We can only serve the residents well if we are fully informed about the concerns and issues being addressed across other governmental bodies, as well as our own.
I also think that participating in IGOV is a step in the right direction to foster collaboration, but work must be done to enhance their role and better educate voters about their goals and outcomes to drive elected officials to prioritize participation.
In June, the Library will eliminate fines for Oak Park residents borrowing OPPL materials. Do you foresee any unintended consequences to this policy? How do you anticipate this policy change will affect patrons’ relationship with the Library?
I agree with the focus of the library in trying to reduce inequity and increase accessibility. I am hopeful that the removal of this barrier will improve utilization of library materials from families and individuals who felt anxiety or financial strain from late fees and fines.
It will take some time not only for the library to educate the community and for this decision to change behaviors, but I do anticipate that once residents have more flexibility in returning books it will affect hold times for popular titles and new release books which may cause the library to acquire more of these materials and create some increased costs to supplement. I also think that this changed cadence of visiting might lengthen the time between visits, so the library may need to expand outreach and other programs to encourage physical visits to the library. Hopefully, this change will be coupled with new patron visits to diversify our use and bring more people to the library.
In the past six months, the Library has replaced outside security guards with social workers and employee security monitors. In your view, has this change had the desired result?
I believe that this has been a very positive change. There is still a great deal of work to be done but the social work team has already done a wonderful job at creating a culture of acceptance and stewarding productive personal relationships. Libraries have always been and hopefully, will continue to be safe havens in our cities and villages that enhance learning for all visitors. We must understand where our patrons need support and if they can be provided appropriate support at the library we should work to foster their learning.
I think the library may still need more support as the social work team works to engage both the teen patrons and the homeless who frequently need services outside of the traditional role of the library. An additional social worker on staff focused solely on each population may have more capacity to develop relationships across other social service agencies and governmental agencies to build long term solutions to the benefit of all our patrons.
With shifting values at the national level, do you anticipate any shift in the Library’s role and responsibilities in our community? How would you approach the elimination of the NEH and NEA?
I think that the libraries role in this political environment is more important than ever. With continued focus in fake news, the library can serve not only as a place to connect with well supported facts and research but also to encourage understanding about the diverse opinions that make up our national dialogue. I think that it is important for Oak Park Library to leverage the staff and community leaders to foster debate and encourage programming that helps showcase the value of learning both sides of an argument and understanding the world outside of the Oak Park bubble.
The possible elimination of the NEH and NEA is very troubling and could cause some real limitations for the libraries programming and grant access. I think that it will require the board to become more creative and collaborative to ensure that we can retain and grow our strong programs and services, while ensuring long term financial health.
Please describe how lifelong learning has been a value in your own life. How would bring this perspective to your work on the Library Board?
I have been very fortunate to participate not only in academic learning, but also professional development and political engagement trainings throughout my life. I’ve derived a great deal of pleasure and met many wonderful friends through these pursuits. Frankly, the learning I’ve had about the village and from many residents during my candidacy has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of pursuing public office. I have a great deal of enthusiasm about experiencing new ideas, discovering new authors and exploring arts and culture.
I would bring that enthusiasm to my service by working to support the wonderful staff at the Oak Park Library and ensuring that they were adequately supported in their continuing education and could leverage those learnings for our patrons to deliver fresh ideas, new materials and creative approaches to their areas of expertise.
The Library is an essential meeting location for local businesses, governmental agencies, and non-profits. How do you believe this resource should be managed?
I want to ensure that non-profits and community organizations which strengthen our village have more access to complimentary meeting rooms and media channels monthly. Our facilities can host more programming from social service agencies, workforce development and arts partners to ensure we are providing residents with tools to improve their skills and foster lifelong learning.
These events can serve as a valuable supplement to the libraries hosted programs. More importantly, I want to collaborate across the governmental organizations to ensure that all our village public spaces are all being better utilized to support these efforts which contribute to making Oak Park a diverse and vibrant place where we all want to live and work.
Over the years the Library has invested heavily in technology. Do you see unexplored opportunities for technology to enhance the Library’s work or extend its reach?
In my professional life, I’ve had the opportunity to work with educational resources that utilize not only live streaming but also virtual reality to bring students across the city or across the globe to experience live classes and behind the scenes tours of museums and cultural resources. I think we can continue to explore these resources and create connections not only for students but also for adult and senior learning. I envision hosting curated sessions at Oak Park Arms to visit the Louvre utilizing Google Arts and Culture and Park District Clubhouse programs live streaming with trainers at the Shedd Aquarium to feed the sharks. We have wonderful and talented staff at the libraries who do so much through our outreach and this work can be strengthened with smart investments in technology to bring this learning to life.
Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.
My mother, Diane Platt-$300
My sister-in- law, Meghann Glavin-$150
Making library access more diverse and diversified (Wednesday Journal)
Oak Park Library Board race is packed (Wednesday Journal)