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.