Tuesday, January 27, 2015

21st Century Library Services, 1980’s Building

Don’t get me wrong, the Plainfield Public Library provides some amazing 21st century library services: loaning Roku boxes for streaming video; downloadable ebooks, eaudiobooks, magazines and music; technology help; computer classes; job seeker support; subscription databases; the laundry list goes on and on. But the thing that holds the library back from truly fulfilling the community’s needs is this building. Yes, the Board and staff have done a great job keeping it looking good. But every single day – and the Library is open 7 days a week – a resident with a need is turned away without getting what they need because their need requires something this building just doesn’t have - space.

From kids working on group projects, to tutors seeking somewhere to meet with their students, to community organizations seeking a room to hold a meeting, to businesses seeking a larger room for Skype or Go To Meeting, community, study and meeting space of all kinds is a daily request that cannot be fulfilled by this facility. Computer classes are limited in size and cramped into a room not designed for technology. The small size of the meeting rooms limit all programs, like author events, our annual teen murder mystery play and everyday children’s programs.

This building was designed in 1988-1989, before the Internet, email or cell phones were widely used. Before texting existed. When faxing was high-tech. When Miami Vice colors were in (thank goodness those are nearly gone from the building). When paper tax forms were still widely available. When many of today’s library users were very small children or weren’t born yet.

Libraries are now community gathering spaces, where creation of content and collaboration occur, where people connect with each other. Technology has fundamentally changed how libraries deliver service – and the way people use public libraries has changed along with it. Computer classes and technology help are a huge part of library service today. And they take up space that just wasn’t in the plan in the 1980’s.

We’re halfway there. We’ve begun 21st century services. With a little elbow room, the Plainfield Library could be the community’s 21st century gem.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Vacancy, Candidates and the April 2015 Election

With the resignation of Gretchen Fritz to assume her seat on Will County Board, the Plainfield Public Library District Board of Trustees has been operating with a vacancy since late last year. The timing of the vacancy would allow for the seated board of Trustees to appoint someone to that position only until the next regular election. Because the filing period for candidates for the April 2015 election to the Library Board was December 15 through 22, the Board of Trustees decided not to pursue appointing someone to the vacancy for only a few months. Instead, they waited to find out who would file their paperwork to run for the two-year unexpired term. Their patience was rewarded when only a single candidate filed for the two-year unexpired term. That candidate, Jason M. Puetz, has already begun attending Library Board meetings. It is anticipated that he will be appointed to the vacancy in either January or February.

Also, three seats for four-year terms will appear on the April 2015 ballot, according to the regular election cycle for the Library Board. Three candidates filed to run for these three seats: Crystal Andel, Carl Gilmore and Sharon Kinley. All three candidates filed at 9:00am on December 15, 2014, the first day of filing. A simultaneous filing lottery was conducted on December 30, determining the ballot order: Kinley, Gilmore, Andel.

No objections were filed against any petitions for candidacy during the objection filing period.

The Certification of the Ballot has been submitted to the Will and Kendall County Clerks for the two elections. That concludes my duties as Local Election Official (LEO) for the April 2015 election.

Write-in candidates may file their Intent to Write-In forms at the County Clerk’s Office through February 5, 2015. But the LEO doesn’t have to do anything with those!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Election Services at the Library

One of the many “hats” I wear as the Library Director is to act as the Local Election Official (LEO) for the Library District. Every other year, when seats on the Library Board of Trustees are up for election, I oversee the process, ensure that the proper notices are published, documentation collected and disseminated, forms filled out and appropriate originals or copies filed with the County Clerk’s Office. Thankfully the Will County Clerk and State Board of Elections offer training and support for the library, park, fire and other types of districts that are responsible for these duties. It’s a strictly regulated and highly structured process – and absolutely imperative that it’s done correctly.

This week, from December 15 through December 22, is the filing period for candidates to appear on the ballot in April. Each potential candidate must fill out and file the appropriate forms for the office for which they seek election, along with the correct amount of signatures of registered voters for the office. When the candidate files the paperwork with the district, it’s the LEO (and/or their designees) who accept them and provide a receipt for the filing. If two or more candidates file at the same time, the LEO schedules and holds a lottery to determine the order in which the candidates’ names will appear on the ballot. Later, the LEO certifies to the County Clerk’s Office the ballot proof, showing exactly how the names will appear on the ballot. Each part of the process follows rules, some directly from state statute and some from the State’s Administrative Rules. My role in election services at the Library is to ensure that we follow the rules.

Did you know that overseeing the election process for the district isn’t the only election-related service offered by the Library? You can register to vote at the Library. Options for voter registration are:

Registration is open throughout the year except during the 27 days preceding an election. Registration reopens the second day following an election. However, if you missed the registration deadline prior to an election, you may be eligible for Grace Period registration. Voter registration, like election services, follows a complex set of rules. Your Library staff are available to help you through the process. Call or stop by for more information.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Planning for the Future

The planning process has begun! As you probably know if you’ve read this blog before, the current Library is too small for our community. While the Library staff has gotten very good at making do, being creative and patching problems, the needs that brought the 2009 referendum to vote still exist. Not only is the 27,000 square foot Library inadequate to serve 75,000+ people, it has also endured over 20 years of heavy public use. In 2011, through surveying and open forums, you told the Library Board an expansion was needed, but that you were not yet ready to have it on the ballot for economic reasons. The Library Board listened, creating a Strategic Plan that continued goals of Service Excellence, Community Focus and Stewardship while maintaining the aging and undersized facility. The final step in that Strategic Plan is planning for expansion, with a tentative referendum date of November 2016.

In November 2014, the Library Board of Trustees contracted with Anders Dahlgren of Library Planning Associates to update the Space Needs Analysis and Building Program, originally developed in 2007-2008. He is the first of a team of experts being assembled by the Library Board. In early 2015, finance consultants, architects and an owners’ representative will be selected to support the needs assessment phase of the planning process. By starting the planning process 2 years prior to a possible referendum date, the Library Board of Trustees will be able to create a plan and engage the community in providing meaningful feedback on it prior to any final decision to place a question on the November 2016 ballot.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Optical Illusion or Big Change Happening Slowly?

No, it’s not an optical illusion. The interior of the Library is slowing changing color! With the expertise of Roxanne Essex from Maggie’s Place (http://maggies-place.com/) choosing colors, we’re taking the Library from its 1980’s palette into the new century. Primarily, the mauve purple will become a blue gray. The seafoam green trim will stay, though the accent color walls on the lower level will also be updated. Refreshing interior paint was scheduled maintenance for the building but the new logo design inspired us to make the change. The Library’s fantastic Maintenance staff are doing all of the painting. So watch the progress as our “Miami Vice” Library sheds its retro look…

Maintenance Assistant Jayne Odegaard working on the painting project. Can you spot the two formerly mauve things in this picture? One is obvious and one much less so…

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Compliment of the Day: Kudos for Computer Instructors

As a Library Director, it always makes my day when someone goes out of their way to compliment a staff member on a job well done. We’ve been on a roll with these kinds of compliments recently, especially in the area of computer instruction. One was a compliment for ES, helping a gentleman at the public computers with a resume. Another was a compliment for LS, teaching and spending extra time working with a Computer Class student with special needs. A third compliment commended multiple staff members on their willingness to answer computer questions and provide excellent support for our public computer users.

Despite the limitations of the Library’s Computer Classroom, our computer instructors and staff are able to provide instruction and support for computer users and learners at all levels. Even at the public computers, staff help computer users as much as they can. Their hard work does not go unnoticed! Thank you, instructors, for a job well done!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Question of the Day: Can’t the Literacy DuPage representative set up their display somewhere else?

The full question was: Can’t the Literacy DuPage representative set up their display and talk to potential volunteers somewhere that is not right by the computers?

The short answer is no. There just isn't anywhere else that allows for connecting with adults as they enter and exit the library. With no space on the ground level for a person with a display, the choices become the entry areas on the upper or lower level. Since Youth Services is housed on the lower level, the upper level entry area is the choice. Now look at the space: stairs, hallway area, opening onto the main floor. And where is the first logical place for a display as you enter? The table across from the Check Out Desk stands in the space available, right behind the public computers. It’s Literacy Awareness Month. Our library was the first partner outside of Dupage County for Literacy DuPage. No other agency in Will County fills this need. Literacy DuPage relies on volunteers to provide tutoring for adult literacy learners. Allowing a volunteer to recruit other volunteers at our library to help fulfill literacy needs in our community makes sense.

This is another example of the current building’s deficiencies as a functional library.

On the positive side - this display and volunteer recruited more than a dozen new volunteers for Literacy DuPage.