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 ( 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.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Question of the Day: Why was the Museum Pass checked out when I tried to get it?

This question was asked at the Check Out Desk recently: “Why was the Museum Pass checked out when I tried to get it? I was the first person at the Check Out Desk!”

Yes, you may have made it to the Check Out Desk first, but you were not the first in line. What you did not notice or were too late to see was the physically challenged woman who was waiting at the front doors well before the Library opened. She stopped Maintenance Assistant Jayne O outside to ask for help. This customer knew that she could not be first to the desk if she had to wait for the elevator, even though she was the first person waiting for opening time. So Jayne went to the Circulation staff on this customer’s behalf and brought her the passes for which she’d been waiting. 
The first customer received the passes, she just needed a little help to get them.

This story is just one more example of the deficiencies of the current building in providing library service to our community.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What is a Public Library?

Assistant Library Director Lisa Pappas shared this blog post from BookRiot: Libraries Are Not a "Netflix for Books". The author's words resonated with both of us. The role a public library plays in its community cannot be reduced to comparison with a for-profit company. The core philosophy of public libraries, open and equitable access for all, is diametrically opposed to profit motive. A public library provides an environment where people can improve their lives. It is more than any set of services, more than books, more than the staff. Ms Jensen states it clearly:
"The library is the center and the heart of community."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Celebrate National Library Week with Us!

The Plainfield Public Library District is facing many of the same issues that libraries across the country are facing today: a perception that public libraries are irrelevant, just warehouses for books. However, the role of the public library is evolving, not becoming irrelevant, as shown in Libraries are Dying? Think Again on CNN today. A strong library is able to not only withstand change, but thrive within it. The internet was seen as a threat to libraries, but people are learning that getting thousands of results for a search was not as useful (or quick!) as having a professional sort through that information to provide needed answers. The library’s role as a gathering and collaboration space has grown as people seek connection to the community beyond home and work. Embracing this evolving role requires looking at things differently and getting people to experience the reality of today’s library. 

Celebrate National Library Week with us and experience how we can connect you to information, to fun and to your community! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Neglected Blog and a Front-Page Article

Apologies for the quiet here on the blog! There are half a dozen unfinished posts for this blog that I really should have finished and posted.

Well, 2014 is a new year and things are hopping at the Library. But our perennial issues remain. Check out yesterday's Joliet Herald News front page article on the Library and our space issues:
Librarians Look for Elbow Room

We're doing our best with what we've got - and kudos to our staff for staying positive and finding creative solutions for our most pressing needs.