MEET THE CANDIDATES FOR THE BOARD OF LIBRARY TRUSTEES

 

A trustee is selected to a 4-year term.  There is no monetary compensation. The position statements of the candidates have been provided in an effort to help our patrons make an informed voting decision at the April 2nd General Consolidated Election.

 

 

In addition to the recording of the February 28 League of Women Voters Candidate Forum, the position statements of the candidates have been provided in an effort to help our patrons make an informed voting decision at the April 2nd General Consolidated Election.

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League of Women Voters
Candidate Forum
February 28, 2019

 

Question 1 — What are your qualifications for the position of library trustee?

 


Kate Garrett:

I am very familiar with the issues the library is currently facing and I have a fruitful working relationship with the board and staff, having served as a trustee since 2017. In the last two years on the board we have conducted community engagement sessions, tackled 20 years of maintenance funding, and increased library card enrollment opportunities. My 13 year career in museum education has focused on connecting people with their heritage and with each other. Success in this field depends on communication, problem solving, and research skills, which I bring to my work on the library board. Working for a government body has helped me understand the responsibilities and limits of a good board. I am also a frequent user of the library, along with my young family. My career and background offer a complementary perspective to the experience of other trustees.

 

 

Andrew Deitchman:

I have been on the Board for six years. The Board's role is to provide direction to the professional staff of the Library and guide them in providing the services desired by the community by establishing the budget and policies. During my time on the Board we've reached out to the community with the Speak Up! campaign to learn what the community wants from their Library. Our next task is to implement the requests of the community in a fiscally responsible manner. Additionally, my education as a civil engineer provides me experience in reviewing and managing construction projects. This experience will be useful as we begin reviewing options for needed construction projects at the Library. 

 

 

Elizabeth Larson:

My name is Elizabeth Larson. I am a resident of Batavia and am running for the Batavia Public Library Board of Trustees. Why me? Besides being an avid Library user with my family, I have been on the board of the Friends of the Batavia Public Library since 2012 (Publicity Chair), have been the Friends Representative to the board of the Batavia Public Library Foundation since 2013, and served as a representative from the Library Foundation to the steering committee of Bulldogs Unleashed 2.0 (which raised over 70K to split between the Library Foundation, the Batavia Parks Foundation, and the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence). I am also involved with the Batavia Mothers’ Club. Being involved with the Library, I can speak to issues facing the Library, its needs, and the needs of users and families who make use of the Library.

 

 

Nick Caltagirone:

I am a public educator of nearly twenty years and as such I have dedicated most of my adult life to the idea of lifelong learning. Further, I am involved in negotiating contracts that deal with multi-million-dollar budgets. Finally, I volunteer with the Friends of the Batavia Library helping to facilitate the monthly book sale fundraiser. These activities qualify me to be a library trustee because they all revolve around furthering the mission of the Batavia Library - to provide the materials and resources necessary to help our residents be life-long learners.

 

 

Daniel Russo:

   -  Library Director, Batavia High School, 22 years

   -  State Board Member, Illinois School Library Association, 2 years

   -  President, Friends of Batavia Public Library, many years

   -  Co-chair, Batavia Public Library Community Engagement Project: “Speak Up!”

   -  Chair, Citizens for Batavia Public Library, promoters of the Library’s successful no tax rate change referendum

As an avid Library user and retired school librarian, I believe that a strong public library is one of the most important things a community can do for its residents. A public library benefits people throughout their lives, from birth through their senior years.

 

Ken Vanko:

I believe that anyone seeking local elective office should have roots within the community and a background that can contribute meaningfully to the work of the position sought. To that end, it is not essential for any library board candidate to have experience as a librarian or to have served in any capacity with a school or public library. The most essential qualifications are a candidate’s: (1) understanding of the role and duties of a library trustee; (2) commitment to attending all meetings and learning about the challenges that libraries face; (3) participating actively in the library budget and policy approval process; and (4) appreciation for the role the library plays in the community. And in conjunction with these qualifications, a trustee should serve as an ambassador in the community to promote the library and its programs. I have lived in Batavia for 10 years, am a lifelong Kane County resident, an active library patron, and an owner of a successful small business. I believe my business experience will be productive for the board as we budget and plan for future capital expenditures. All the candidates running for trustee are highly qualified.

 

 

Christy Ford:

   - Commitment to provide the best possible library service for the community

   - An abiding interest in the Library and the community for the purpose of sharing information and ideas without prejudice

   - Support for local, state, and national library organizations, joining those deemed most appropriate

   - Readiness to devote time and effort to the duties of trusteeship

   - Ability to work with people, lead meetings, and communicate effectively

 

Question 2 — What is your motivation for seeking a position as a Batavia Library trustee?

 


Kate Garrett:

My motivation for running to retain my seat as a trustee is to continue the work I started in 2017. I want to continue to be a voice on the board that takes a long-term view of financial and environmental sustainability, advocates for professional staff, and protects fair and equal community access to the services the library provides. My children are growing up down the street from the library and I want to ensure the library continues to provide all the wonderful benefits for them and for their friends that my libraries did when I was a kid.

 

 

Andrew Deitchman:

I've been a fan of the Batavia Library since I moved here almost 17 years ago and found this amazing facility. When our first son was born, we picked up a Born to Read book bag from the Library to help build a home library for our children.  Between movies, games, activity bags, magazines, puzzles, and books, we've probably have at least one item checked out from the Library every day over the last decade. We've attended many programs here and spent countless hours wandering the shelves looking for the next great item to borrow. I think it is important that we give back to the communities that support us. With all the Library has provided to us, I appreciate the opportunity to support the Library. And, I am a bit of a book nerd. 

 

 

Elizabeth Larson:

I have a lifelong love of reading and books. This love of reading was always encouraged by my local library, which let me take armfuls of books home, along with providing things like the summer reading program that encouraged reading as fun. The ability to use my time and talents in trying to help continuously improve the Library's services for the benefit of the community would be a wonderful opportunity to "give back" to the Library and to all those who enjoy these resources.

 

 

Nick Caltagirone:

My motivation for seeking a position as a Batavia Library trustee is that I hope to see the Library continue to be the best library in Fox River Valley. To that end, I want to help the Library carry out its building upkeep needs, continue to acquire and supply resources for the community, and to fairly compensate its excellent staff.   

 

 

Daniel Russo:

During the community engagement process, “Speak Up!” participants developed 10 recommendations for the Library Board of Trustees.  I would like to be a part of the board that uses this public input to shape the future of Batavia Public Library. 
Additionally, I have a special interest in three areas:

 

   - making the Library Board more visible to the public

   - exploring technology in all areas of the Library

   - reaching out to Batavians who are not current users of the Library

 

Ken Vanko:

I am seeking election for three reasons.

 

First, as a long-time resident and frequent library user, I feel serving our community as a trustee is a great way for me to give back and donate my time for the public good. I continue to be impressed with my neighbors and their desire to make a difference in the community, as revealed by the number of candidates who want to serve on the Board. I will bring small-business management skills to the Board and will work with everyone in a collegial, respectful way.

Second, the result of the November tax-swap referendum has revealed sharp division within the community over the Library District’s future spending and capital improvement plan. Like many, I remain very concerned with the overall taxes we pay as Batavians. I do not support tax increases. I want the Library to remain a vibrant part of our community, but I also intend to be an active participant to ensure the trustees spend what is necessary.

Third, I am a strong advocate for First Amendment freedoms and oppose all content-based restrictions on library programs, exhibits, and materials. The Aurora Public Library’s controversy last year over the Miller poetry exhibit shows that it is vital for library boards to have trustees with a deep understanding of, and appreciation for, the First Amendment freedoms that are important to all of us. That controversy also revealed how important it is for the trustees to work cooperatively with library staff.

 

 

Christy Ford:

My motivation for being a trustee stems from a love of libraries that I have visited all over the country and having been most impressed with our very own Batavia Library. Being a part of this great institution and wanting to assure that the superior attributes are accessible to all taxpayers for now and future generations.

 

 

Question 3 — What do you believe are the most essential services that the Library should provide for the community of Batavia?

 

 

Kate Garrett:

Batavia Public Library is a place that treasures knowledge, encourages inquisitiveness, and builds community. The most essential services are to maintain and support a diverse materials collection in a variety of formats, to help people access and understand those materials, and to offer space and time for people to meet and exchange ideas in a welcoming and supportive space. As I have learned in my time as a trustee, there is a great deal of work behind the scenes that allows these services to work smoothly, and this supportive work needs to be an essential part of the conversations surrounding patron services.

 

 

Andrew Deitchman:

The Library role is to provide lifelong learning opportunities to the community. It does this by maintaining a collection of books, movies, music, and other items for its patrons. But is also provides opportunities to learn by hosting programs for youth and adults and opening its meeting spaces to community organizations. 

 

 

Elizabeth Larson:

The main thing that Libraries can and have provided in changing times is access and space. Libraries provide: access to information/books/electronic books/media/video games; access to internet for those who do not have access at home; access to specialty databases/journals/newspapers that are not open to individuals; access to free lectures and classes on how to use technology and research, music events, story times, storybook character visits, and family events in youth services; access to trained personal to help sort through all the information out there to figure out exactly what is needed (I have never found a question that a librarian could not answer with time to research); and access to space for the community (rooms to use for other non-profits/organizations as meeting spaces, tutoring spaces, places to study and/or read quietly, place for kids to play).
Libraries reflect and support their communities and can help users sort through all the information out there to find exactly what they need.

 

 

Nick Caltagirone:

The most essential services that the Library provides for the community of Batavia are twofold. First, the Library provides the materials and resources that facilitate the learning opportunities for the residents of our community. Continuing to acquire and update these materials is necessary for the Library to meet its mission. Second, the Library provides a safe and welcoming place for community members and organizations to gather, discuss, and widen their horizons. 

 

 

Daniel Russo:

It is essential for the Library to provide collections and connections to all Batavians. 

 

Collections provide the foundation of learning and discovery:

   -  traditional books, e-books, audiobooks, and physical objects such as maps and puzzles

   -  DVDs, CDs, databases, and streaming services

   -  resource sharing through interlibrary loan

   -  technology devices

Connections are equally important:

   -  librarians and staff who guide the public through collections and services

   -  study and meeting spaces for individuals and groups

   -  literacy and special interest programs that connect Batavians with ideas, cultural experiences, and each other

 

 

Ken Vanko:

The Library provides a welcoming space for all members of the community to access information from a diverse set of viewpoints, free of editorializing. The Library also should provide a diverse and rich set of programs, which appeal to all sectors of the community. In this respect, the library staff should be responsible for identifying and selecting these programs, with only minimal trustee oversight. A perfect example of the type of rich, outstanding programming the Library should be promoting is the recent Lyceum Series discussion with Ryan Dowd of Hesed House. In general, our Library does a fantastic job.

What’s more, the Library should promote the use of new technology so that all patrons understand that libraries remain relevant. That said, technology investments must remain affordable and yield a return on investment. Library users will continue to want e-books and access to database material. Many patrons would like to see an update of the Library’s website, which most agree needs to be more user-friendly. All these services are priorities.

Finally, I would consider investing in an affordable multimedia lab, where patrons can use a dedicated laptop to use advanced design software (like AdobeDesign), to edit photos and videos, and to design websites. Ultimately, and ideally with a gift or donation, a multimedia lab could be integrated with a 3-D printer. These developments may encourage young adults to use the Library more.

 

 

Christy Ford:

   - Have books, DVDs, videotapes, CDs on the shelves for browsing patrons to borrow

   - Ability to research topics by use of the internet/internet access, librarians, books, periodicals, and other media

   - Access to librarians for help in research, answer questions, availability of services

   - Access to research databases, and help with the implementation of school projects

   - Ability to sit, read, study, or watch or listen to media

   - Youth learning activities and classes

   - Attend a meeting of a group of interest

   - Ability for adults to attend a class, program, or lecture

   - Audio book availability

 

 

Question 4 — If elected, what would you see as your responsibility to the patrons of the Library?

 

 

Kate Garrett:

A responsible representative listens carefully to what the community needs. We conducted a series of community engagement initiatives that produced a final document compiling the feedback received during these meetings. This powerful document will help guide our funding and policy priorities. My responsibility would be to help the library implement these priorities. It is often cumbersome to ask the constituency their opinion on day to day operating decisions, however, and in those instances, my responsibility is to bring my judgement to bear and provide the greatest value for the community that I can.

 

 

Andrew Deitchman:

My responsibility is to help the Library provide the best services to the community we can in a fiscally responsible manner. As a Library District, we need to work within the constraints of our budget and maintain an ample reserve to account for planned future projects and potential unplanned needs. The trustees are there to provide direction to the professional staff. But the trustees also need to listen to patrons and make sure that we are providing the services that they want and need from their Library. One great aspect about serving on an elected Board is that I get to work to provide the services that my neighbors and friends want to see while making sure our money is spent wisely. 

 

Elizabeth Larson:

According to the American Library Association: "As part of a trustee board, trustees serve on a volunteer basis, can be elected or appointed to a library board for a period of time, and are tasked with the duty of helping to direct the funds and policies of an institution. In general, the library board of trustees has a role in determining the mission of the Library, setting the policy that governs the Library, hiring and evaluating a library director, and overseeing the general management of the Library." I feel the job of a Trustee is to act as a good steward of the Library funds, represent the common good for all Library patrons, and act as an overall Library cheerleader and supporter.

 

 

Nick Caltagirone:

If elected, I would see continuing the trend of excellent service as my primary responsibility to the Library's patrons. Additionally, I would see it as my responsibility to further the reach of our already strong educational programs available at the Library. Finally, I would be responsible for helping ensure that the Library spends our tax dollars wisely in its mission to serve the community.

 

 

Daniel Russo:

The duties of a library trustee are outlined by state statutes: create policies, manage the budget, evaluate services, employ a director, and promote the Library to the community.  My responsibility would be to undertake each of these tasks with enthusiasm and commitment. 

Additionally, because Batavia Public Library attracts over 250,000 visitors to the downtown area each year, I am interested in building even stronger relationships and partnerships with the business community.

Finally, the “Speak Up!” community engagement group made 10 recommendations to the Library Board of Trustees.  I have a strong commitment to reviewing and implementing these recommendations because they will shape the future of the Library and ensure that Batavia Public Library continues to provide “Knowledge for the City of Energy.”

 

 

Ken Vanko:

If elected, I would summarize my responsibilities as follows: (1) to exercise oversight and input over the library budgeting process; (2) to review and direct library policy; and (3) to serve as a liaison within the Batavia community to promote the Library’s programs and explain its value to our residents.

Within this broad framework, a trustee must also work cooperatively with colleagues, listen to diverse viewpoints, and understand the community’s needs. If elected, I would attend all, and be prepared to participate actively in, trustee meetings. I would also view it as my responsibility to understand trends within other library communities, including new and unique programming to suggest, as well as technology initiatives that may prove useful for short- and long-term planning.

And lastly, I would want to stress to patrons and community residents that, despite what many think, libraries still are highly relevant. Our Library is the gateway to downtown Batavia, and we must explain to our neighbors why it should remain so.

 

 

Christy Ford:

   - Establish policies and long-term goals for the Library: oversee the general operation of the Library, initiate and oversee the budget process: promote and advocate for the Library in the community.

   - Attend all board meetings and participate appropriately

   - Prepare for board meetings by reading board minutes and other materials sent out before the board meeting

   - Serve on committees as assigned by board chair

   - Lend expertise and leadership to the board for the good of the Library

   - Establish library policies and review them on an annual basis, updating as needed

   - Strive for adequate funding levels for library operations and maintains a clear picture of the Library's financial situation

   - Become informed about the services offered by the Library and promote these services in the community

   - Encourage ongoing strategic planning

   - Support basic library tenets such as: Intellectual Freedom, Freedom to Read, Confidentiality of Patron Records, Library Bill of Rights, and the Public's Right to Information

   - Become aware of local, state and federal library laws and issues, taking action when appropriate

   - Review costly contracts

   - Keep up with current library trends and practices through:

         - Attending professional meetings 

         - Visiting other libraries 

         - Talking to trustees from other libraries 

         - Reading library literature